Washington West Film Festival Held In Reston

Washington West Film Festival Held In Reston

Film festival hosted at Bow Tie Cinema.

Assisting the 2014 Washington West Film Festival were over 120 volunteers, including students from local colleges such as George Mason University.

Assisting the 2014 Washington West Film Festival were over 120 volunteers, including students from local colleges such as George Mason University. Photo by Ryan Dunn.

The 4th Annual Washington West Film Festival was held Oct. 22-26 at Reston and other locations within Northern Virginia. Hosting the opening night film and reception was Reston Bow Tie Cinema at Reston Town Center. The film festival invited filmmakers, film lovers, industry professionals, and media alike to experience a breathtaking view of artistic cinema. “What is unique about Washington West Film Festival is that we believe a story can change the world,” said Brad Russell, founder and president of Washington West Film Festival.


Producer Alexandra McDougald takes questions from the audience after the showing of documentary film “Alive Inside” at Reston Bow Tie Cinema. Next to her is Washington West Film Festival Director of Operations Samantha Dols.

Other locations which hosted the 2014 Washington West Film Festival events included Gum Spring Library in Stone Ridge, Va. and George Mason University. In 2015, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts will host events for the film festival. The 2014 opening night film, a documentary “Alive Inside” was sold out and had standing room only. The movie focused on the use of music therapy for individuals suffering from memory loss. Attending the opening night production were Reston founder Bob Simon, Herndon Council for the Arts Executive Director Signe Friedrichs, and Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins. “The movie was enjoyable and inspiring,” said Supervisor Hudgins. “It makes you rethink our nursing home model.”

THE DOCUMENTARY has been well received and won the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award for an American documentary. With the use of iPods and music playlists, unresponsive patients at nursing homes become animated and alive. The film tracks the progress of a team of social workers who introduce the use of iPods and music at nursing homes. Producer Alexandra McDougald answered questions about the film after it was shown.

Box office profits for this year’s film festival event will be going to the nonprofit organization OneVoice based in Vienna, Virginia. “Washington West is the most unique film festival in the country,” said documentary filmmaker Dan Cohen. Cohen is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and his documentary “Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope” has achieved mass distribution, airing on PBS stations across the country. Over the years the filmmaking industry within the Washington, D.C. area has grown in profile as many federal and state contractors hire local filmmakers and crews to do their video work. The film festival was an opportunity for film professionals to network and connect.

Helping with operations were over 120 volunteers, some students at local colleges including George Mason University. “I love films, and film festivals are a great way to watch other stories and explore creativity,” said George Mason senior Bradyn Heck. Other features of the film festival included a short films program held at Reston Bow Tie Cinemas Oct. 24-25, with both national and international films. This year, between 40 to 45 films were screened for the festival.

ON FRIDAY, director Andrew Loo and actor Carl Li held a question and answer session after showing the film “Revenge of the Green Dragons,” produced by Martin Scorsese. In the film two immigrant brothers survive impoverished despair of New York City in the 1980s by joining a Chinatown gang “The Green Dragons.” The film was inspired by a 1980s article from The New Yorker, and took six years to create. “Marty read the script and responded to it,” said Loo. Hong Kong film director Andrew Lau co-directed the film with Andrew Loo.

In addition to the opening night film “Alive Inside,” other featured documentaries included “The Honor Diaries” and New Zealand film “The Cave Connection.” Directed by Micah Smith, “The Honor Diaries” profiles nine women’s rights activists with origins in the Muslim (and non-Muslim) world. The event closed with an awards ceremony presented by the Film Festival panel of jurors.