When my friend Zandra Gutierrez asked me to volunteer at the 2015 Friday Harbor Film Festival, I was hesitant. For me, coming from Kansas City, Missouri, it’s cars, planes, buses, ferries and walking before I even pull on my volunteer shirt. Then I remembered the beauty of the islands; the excitement of the inaugural festival, and passages were booked.
There are two ways to approach my experiences at this years’ festival. One would be to concentrate on the fantastic documentaries. Documentaries are knowledge through entertainment. To attend movies of such quality and interest that no one moves, let alone speaks or texts on cell phones, is an experience in and of itself. To witness grown men cry during a movie about violence against women, causes a rise in hope for every woman who also views the film. Watching four young males graduate from college foregoing capitalist gains to promote adventure, their love of wild mustangs and our western landscapes, by riding from the Mexico border to the Canadian border was heartening. The subject matter was about the mustangs, but the lessons were in young leadership, teamwork, respecting nature, and appreciating the wisdom of elders. I learned how to die in Oregon and explore Mars. I learned.
The second way to describe my experiences is by focusing on community spirit. Friday Harbor is the most populist of the San Juan Islands in Washington State. Which is not to say it’s metropolitan. Therein lies the beauty. It’s a 24/7 version of Brigadoon in the Pacific Northwest. The population is small, but their dedication to the success of the Film Festival goes far beyond being neighborly. It’s community support, commitment, loyalty, dependability, and generosity in motion. Volunteers showed up en masse. Directors were accessible and approachable, willing to indulge in selfies, autographs and discussions about their film work,
I have volunteered all over the world. This experience was one of my most enjoyable. In a film canister; attending next years festival should be on everyone’s bucket list. Thank you Lynn, Karen, and Zandra, for putting together a topnotch festival. You are a small, but talented, group of dedicated women who know how to do things right.
Cynthia Broom Townsend
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