BRATS: Our Journey Home A Donna Musil Film Featuring Narration and Music by Kris Kristofferson
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Published: Friday, March 2, 2007
These women's films carry festival's weight
The dozen movies in the 10th annual Everett Women's Film Festival ought to appeal to anyone with a love of cinema.

By Theresa Goffredo
Herald Writer

These are not chick flicks.

There's one about a kid growing up as a military brat.    Another is about two girls who try to escape the Nazis by hiding in a cave.

Then there's the film about this gigantic, 100-room mansion, a great Americana real-estate saga.

The selections for this year's 10th annual Everett Women's Film Festival are movies with mass appeal and universal themes: love, wealth, war, more love.

The women's festival does, however, showcase women as directors.    All but one of the films was done by a woman, said Eileen Simmons, this year's festival director.

"There are lots of guys out there who think women's films are all about PMS," Simmons said.    "There is a certain amount of truth to that ... but women make a lot of different kind of films.    They don't just make chick flicks.   We're interested in a lot of different things."

Simmons said this 10th year for the festival is particularly exciting because several of the filmmakers are planning to attend the event, which starts tonight and runs through Saturday evening at the historic Everett Theatre.

The festival was started by a group of female film buffs.    The festival, a volunteer effort, has stayed with its small-scale, two-day format, though this year there are 12 films, up from last year's nine.

The films generally are just a couple of years old and are picked by the festival committee with input from just about anybody, Simmons said.

"Volunteers or friends or others who have heard of something they think might be interesting ... send us ideas and we try and track them down," Simmons said.

Highlights of this year's festival include tonight's opening film, "Through Hell and High Water," by Elly M. Taylor.

Taylor's documentary tells the story of Norwegians hiding in an island cave to escape the Nazi occupation.

"When you see the cave they stayed in you can't even believe they managed to live there," Simmons said.    "It's so small, it's like a little crack in the rock.   It's just amazing."

Their rescue by Allied forces leads to love and marriage for one of the young women, to a British seaman.    The couple eventually settles in the Seattle area, Simmons said.

Filmmakers who might make an appearance Saturday afternoon include Catherine Ryan and Gary Weimberg, whose film, "Three Women and a Chateau," tells the story of Chateau Carolands, an architectural masterpiece built by Harriet Pullman Carolan, heiress to the Pullman sleeping car fortune.

Director Lucy Ostrander is also expected to be on hand to comment on "Finding Thea," a documentary about Tacoma's legendary Thea Foss, the woman on whom Tugboat Annie was based.

Donna Musil will also be present Saturday for the screening of her film, "Brats: Our Journey Home."

Saturday night offers "Touch the Sound," which tells the story of deaf, Grammy-winning percussionist Evelyn Glennie.    The filmmaker, Thomas Riedlesheimer, is the festival's only male director, but his work elevated the film to festival status, Simmons said.

"It's such a cool film," Simmons said.   "It's completely about her (Glennie) so it's very appropriate."

The festival closes with "Puccini for Beginners," a contemporary love story by Maria Maggenti.

Though one volunteer once compared the work of putting on the festival to planning a wedding, Simmons said the festival continues because of a corps of dedicated movie lovers.

"We all love movies," Simmons said.    "It's a big event with lots of planning that goes into it and most all of us have full-time jobs or family.    But when it happens there's kind of a glow afterward."

"Brats: Our Journey Home" (right) tells the story of Army brats, including Gail Dunagan Morrison, with "Pier Charlie" the cat (below).

Gunvor Bay and Nancy Kelly travel by boat to Fella on Srya, Norway, in "Through Hell and High Water."
The first documentary about growing up military.