Film festival begins this week in Alpena

The 5th Annual Thunder Bay International Film Festival is beginning this week in Alpena.

The festival, hosted by Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, features a world of films on all things Great Lakes & ocean related– ranging from shark conservation to deep sea exploration, lighthouse history to surfing, and much more.

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Some of last year’s audience at the festival.

The festival began last week in Alcona but comes to Alpena this week. Festival events in downtown Alpena kick off Tuesday, January 24th, with a FREE sneak peek event at Thunder Bay Winery beginning at 6 pm. A portion of all glass and bottle sales will go towards the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Screenings of films will continue throughout the week, with various programs scheduled between 10 am and 5 pm on Saturday, January 28th and Sunday, January 29th in the Visitor Center’s theater. Many of the films come from the San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival, one of the most famous ocean-themed film festivals, whose films are typically unavailable to the general public outside of a festival setting. For a full, detailed schedule of programming and films, click here. 

The low-down on the programming.

In addition to film screenings, the festival will also feature three receptions this week on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (January 26-28th), with evenings filled with film screenings, an amazing array of locally-made appetizers, and drinks. Each takes place from 6-9 pm at the Visitor Center at 500 West Fletcher Street.  Tickets are $30.

The Heritage Center set up for a film reception.

Not in Alpena? The film fest is also on the road this year! Come to the historic Rogers City Theater on Wednesday, January 25th at 6 pm for an evening of film. Tickets are $5 and include a reception afterwards. As the Sanctuary’s borders reach further than Alpena, Stephanie Gandulla, Film Festival Coordinator comments on the excitement “to work with communities to make this a regional event and expand the festival to include other sanctuary cities.”

With its amazing selection of films, variety of topics, and opportunity to entertain as well as educate, Sanctuary Superintendent Jeff Gray says it best: “Whether you’re looking to spend just a few hours with us, or the entire week of film festival, there really is something for everyone.”

Thunder Bay International Film Festival is an annual fundraiser for Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which encompasses 4,300 square miles in Lake Huron. Designated in 2000, the Sanctuary exists to preserve our Great Lakes maritime heritage, including a significant collection of historic shipwrecks. Through innovative, accessible educational programs and community outreach, the Sanctuary strives to protect our Great Lakes for future generations. 

Anne Gentry writes Blog Downtown Alpena in conjunction with the Alpena DDA. A special thank you to the lovely, wonderful, and talented Stephanie Gandulla for the information for this post! Stay updated with the Sanctuary by liking them on Facebook here.

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