Mar 032015

Interaction. There are many factors contributing to Salem Film Fest’s continued growth and worldwide recognition, with interaction between moviegoers and filmmakers being a key element. You can be part of that process March 5-12 when Salem Film Fest is presented in Salem Ma.

Shoulder the LionThis year, 38 films will be showcased by filmmakers representing 10 different countries telling stories from around the world. Of these films, 29 will be making their North American, US, East Coast, New England or Massachusetts premiere.

As self-described on their web page “Salem Film Fest focuses on well-told stories with strong technical elements and interesting visual approaches, each film screened over the week-long schedule represents an immersive aesthetic experience, an opportunity to glimpse the world with fresh eyes, and leave changed as a result.”

It is also an open opportunity for you, the viewer, to speak directly with many of the driving forces of the films to be screened, as more than half of these films will feature Q&As with the filmmakers.

For example, consider this forum topic: Filmmakers often encounter people experiencing difficult life situations while making a film. How does a filmmaker balance respect and empathy for their subjects, while crafting the narrative of their film?

Salem Film FestScreenings will take place at the Peabody Essex Museum and CinemaSalem.

PEM will also host the opening night film and the closing awards ceremony, live music, talks and art making.

For films shown at PEM, tickets may be purchased at the admissions desk, by calling 978-542-1511 or by visiting Ticket sales at PEM will conclude each day by 4:30 pm. Tickets are also available through CinemaSalem (in-person box office or at

(Photo from Shoulder the Lion, a film focusing on “three artists, three tragedies. The usual story told in a very unusual way.”)

Feb 242015

Film Fest WindowWith the Oscars out of the way, you can now focus up close and personal on the Salem Film Fest (March 5-12). Entering its eighth year, Salem Film Fest is one of New England’s largest documentary film festivals; it attracts submissions and attendees from all over the world.

We’ll have more on the SFF in an upcoming blog, but if you want a sampling of SFF, Creative Salem produced an Oscar worthy profile page. But there is a visual problem with being the home of SFF, and we’ve come up with a solution that requires your assistance.

“The only drawback of a festival like Salem Film Fest,” explains Kylie Sullivan, Salem Main Streets Manager, “is that, by necessity, the vast majority of the action happens behind closed doors. The Film Fest gets bigger and better every year, but sometimes it’s hard to see that if you’re just walking down the street.”

She continues, “Therefore, we started the Film Fest window decorations last year because we wanted people to walk into town and KNOW that there was a film festival in town! In addition, we have many filmmakers and guests from out of town who are exploring the city for the first time during the festival. The Salem community gets so excited for this festival, and we wanted to have a visual representation of that excitement to welcome our visitors.”

Merchants, if you’ve got a downtown storefront window, we want to see your best film-inspired window! While the festival focuses on documentaries, your window does not have to be documentary-specific (windows inspired by Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, or The Avengers are absolutely encouraged).

This year, we will have a jury select a winning window. The winner of the competition will become the underwriter of a single film for the 2016 Salem Film Fest ($300 value)!

As a sign that this is indeed a group effort, if you need some inspiration or materials, Paul Van Ness of CinemaSalem will again be donating old celluloid film and film reels (and popcorn!) to anyone who wants to decorate a window. Stop by the Main Streets / Chamber offices at 265 Essex any time after 12:30 pm for film, popcorn, and Salem Film Fest posters (while they last)!

Participating businesses must notify Salem Main Streets of their interest and have window decorations completed by Friday, Feb. 27. So don’t delay. Any questions should be sent to or go old school and call 978-744-0004.

(Photo courtesy of Social Palates)

Mar 032013

First Friday last week was a success, and the activity doesn’t end for March. It is only beginning!  The 6th annual all-documentary Salem Film Fest will be held March 7 – March 14 at CinemaSalem (with a few presentations at the Peabody Essex Museum, see full list below).

This is the largest All-Documentary Festival in New England, representing 32 feature length films. And— two-thirds of filmmakers plan to not only attend but also engage in post-screening dialogues.

This year’s fest kicks off at the Peabody Essex Museum with the world premiere of  THE GHOST ARMY about a top-secret WWII unit that used inflatable tanks, sound trucks and other clever tactics to impersonate U.S. Army units and deceive Hitler’s legions. Q&A with Lexington filmmaker Rick Beyer and local heroes who served during WWII will follow.

The Salem Film Fest is also proud to host the much-anticipated Salem premiere of WEST OF MEMPHIS that tells the story of Salem resident Damien Echols desperate and extraordinary fight to escape death row. Echols will be on hand for what is sure to be a powerful Q&A.

Salem Film Fest was founded in 2008 by filmmaker Joe Cultrera (HAND OF GOD), local businessman Paul Van Ness (CinemaSalem, Van Ness Creative), the Executive Director of Salem Chamber of Commerce Rinus Oosthoek and others from the community. Run and operated entirely by volunteers, the weeklong festival’s attendance has grown 20 to 25 percent each year.(Mike Otis photo)

For more information about Salem Film Fest including ticket purchase information (some showings may be sold out already) visit, follow Salem Film Fest on Facebook ( and Twitter (@SalemFilmFest).

Screening Locations:
CinemaSalem, 1 India Square Mall, 978-744-1400
Peabody Essex Museum, East India Square (161 Essex Street), 978-745-9500

Screening Schedule:
Thursday, 3/7/13
7:00PM The Ghost Army, Peabody Essex Museum

Friday, 3/8/13
5:00PM Bay of All Saints, Screening Room, CinemaSalem
6:00PM Buzkashi!, Main Theater, CinemaSalem
6:45PM Scarlet Road, Screening Room, CinemaSalem
8:20PM Water Children, Screening Room CinemaSalem
8:30PM West of Memphis, Main Theater, CinemaSalem
10:00PM Radio Unnameable, Screening Room, CinemaSalem

Saturday, 3/9/13
10:00AM Trash Dance, Main Theater, CinemaSalem
10:30AM The Fade, Screening Room, Cinema Salem
12:00PM The Missing Piece: The Truth About The Man Who Stole The Mona Lisa, Main Theater, CinemaSalem
12:30PM Bay of All Saints, Screening Room, CinemaSalem
1:00PM In No Great Hurry – 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter, Peabody Essex Museum
2:30PM Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride, Main Theater, CinemaSalem
2:30PM Scarlet Road, Screening Room, CinemaSalem
3:30PM The World’s Most Fashionable Prison, Peabody Essex Museum
4:45PM Mr. Cao Goes to Washington, Main Theater, CinemaSalem
5:15PM Radio Unnameable, Screening Room, CinemaSalem
5:30PM The World Before Her, Peabody Essex Museum
7:15PM The Fade, Screening Room, CinemaSalem
7:15PM The Big Easy Express, Main Theater, CinemaSalem
7:30PM Poetry of Resilience, Peabody Essex Museum
9:15PM Welcome To The Machine, Main Theater, CinemaSalem
9:45PM Water Children, Screening Room, CinemaSalem

Sunday, 3/10/13
10:00AM Town of Runners, Main Theater, CinemaSalem
10:30AM Radio Unnameable, Screening Room, CinemaSalem
12:15PM Sneak Peek, Main Theater, CinemaSalem
12:45PM Scarlet Road, Screening Room, CinemaSalem
1:00PM Kind Hearted Woman, Peabody Essex Museum
2:30PM Charles Bradley: Soul of America, Main Theater, CinemaSalem
2:45PM The Fade, Screening Room, CinemaSalem
4:00PM FRONTLINE Forum, Peabody Essex Museum
4:45PM Dreams of a Life, Main Theater, CinemaSalem
5:00PM Water Children, Screening Room, CinemaSalem
7:15PM Bay Of All Saints, Screening Room, CinemaSalem
7:20PM Women With Cows, Main Theater, CinemaSalem
7:30PM Poetry of Resilience, Peabody Essex Museum

Monday, 3/11/13 6:00PM Seeking Asian Female, Main Theater, CinemaSalem

Radio Unnameable, Screening Room, CinemaSalem
8:00PM Scarlet Road, Screening Room, CinemaSalem
8:30PM Where Heaven Meets Hell, CinemaSalem

Tuesday, 3/12/13
6:00PM La Camioneta, Main Theater, CinemaSalem
6:30PM Bay Of All Saints, Screening Room, CinemaSalem
8:15PM Call Me Kuchu, Main Theater, CinemaSalem
8:15PM Water Children, Screening Room, CinemaSalem