By Rod Bastanmehr
That’s the ultimate goal of the Pacific Rim Film Festival (PRFF), said Kathy Foley, a longtime member of the festival’s steering committee.
If the goal sounds lofty, keep in mind that this isn’t the first time this festival has found its way into Santa Cruz. Kicking off Oct. 17, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the event.
The PRFF plays at the Del Mar Theatre, the Rio Theatre and the UC Santa Cruz Media Theatre. UCSC plays a large role in allowing the festival to continue year after year.
“Major support for the festival comes from UCSC as a whole,” Foley said. “[Porter Provost] David Jones gives money which I can use for support, so I direct that support toward the film rental and costs of the event, to help keep the festival free.”
The lack of a fee encourages student interest in the festival.
“There was an initial appeal in it being free of charge,” said Lindsay Price, a third-year Kresge student. “It made me think that I had nothing to lose, so I went just for the heck of it … [and] I was completely blown away.”
Spanning six days, with a total screening of 17 international films, the PRFF garners a large amount of attention, partly because its goals exceed simple cinematic back-patting.
“People put this festival together to promote cross-cultural understanding,” said Foley, who has been involved in the festival since the late 1980s. “The smaller goal is helping Santa Cruz citizens to see, through the medium of film, some of the issues and concerns of [their] neighbors around the Pacific Rim.”
Foley, who was once the provost of Porter College, said that UCSC student voices have often spawned some of the festival’s film selections.
“Last year, I started having [students] review and suggest films [for] the next year’s festival,” she said. “One of the steering committee members for this year was a student in that class last year. This was a great boom to the committee in that it increases the student voice in defining the programming.”
Myles Brown, a third-year Porter film major, remembers when he first attended the PRFF last year.
“I was still hesitant about [declaring a] film major, so I made it a point to go to any film-related events that Santa Cruz had to offer,” Brown said. “[The PRFF] was the one that really hit me hardest … It made me realize that I was right in choosing UCSC, and that I was right in choosing the film major.”
And what of the “world peace”?
Foley explained, “[The festival] is about people from Santa Cruz, the Bay Area, UCSC, Cabrillo. It is about filmmakers who came once and want to come back, she said. “It is about everyone working together to create something for the community and each other, which represents the best of art, of learning about others and ourselves, as members of a transnational, connected world — about making our world a little wider and more connected.”
The first film of the festival will screen at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 at the Del Mar Theatre. For more information about the festival, visit pacificrimfilmfestival.org.