The 33rd annual Olympia Film Festival, beginning Thursday, is about much more than film. Several of the festival’s biggest events don’t include films at all.
Friday, Idaho-based indie band Built to Spill will play a benefit concert. Sunday brings popular children’s artist Caspar Babypants. The festival closes with a night of comedy, featuring Emmett Montgomery, who competed last year on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.”
“Having live events makes us unique among film festivals,” said Harry Reeves, film programmer for the Olympia Film Society and for the festival. “It’s exciting to have live events sprinkled throughout the the festival.
“It’s a mega dose of what we do year round — films and live events.”
Never miss a local story.
The Built to Spill show, which is nearly sold out, is part of the festival by happenstance.
The band, credited as one of the originators of indie music, was set to play in July but had to reschedule for personal reasons.
The rare Olympia appearance is a benefit for Friends of Mia, a nonprofit organization that funds research for childhood cancer, and the band is playing for a reduced fee.
“We all have people in our lives who have dealt with cancer,” bandleader Doug Martsch told the Olympian in June. “It’s a tough thing. It’s nice that we have any ability to help at all.”
Built to Spill’s last Olympia show, also a benefit for Friends of Mia, was in 2010. It caused, according to the film society website, “non-stop eargasms” and raised $10,000.
Having live events makes us unique among film festivals. It’s exciting to have live events sprinkled throughout the the festival.
Harry Reeves, film programmer for the Olympia Film Festival
For younger music fans — and their parents — the festival offers the show by Babypants (aka Chris Ballew of Presidents of the United States). Babypants’ repertoire includes original tunes on such kid-friendly topics as worms, rabbits, chickens and clouds, plus covers of Beatles songs.
Then there’s the comedy show. Headliner Montgomery of Seattle has performed his self-deprecating standup at Sasquatch, Bumbershoot and beyond. He’s known to boast that he’s “successfully married to a human lady” despite an appearance he compares to Robinson Crusoe’s.
Among the other comics performing is Olympia’s own Sam Miller, who’ll be competing in this year’s Seattle International Comedy Competition. Preliminaries begin Wednesday in Seattle. (See seattlecomedycompetition.org for details.)
Miller, who hosts the weekly comedy open-mic Vomity at Le Voyeur, recently opened for Brad Upton at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts. If he gets past the Seattle preliminaries, he’ll be back at the center Nov. 17 for a semifinal show.
The opening-night gala features “Moving Pictures,” a collaboration between local filmmakers, students and alumni of The Evergreen State College and choreographers affiliated with Ballet Northwest.
“It’s a synthesis of dance and film,” Reetz said.
Also screening opening night is “Contemporary Color,” a documentary about another collaboration — this one between popular musicians led by David Byrne and high school color guards — the squads that perform coordinated movements, generally with a marching band.
Live performance will also be a part of the beloved “All Freakin’ Night,” the festival’s traditional all-night horror movie marathon. The event will begin with a screening of the 1929 silent film “Häxan,” accompanied by live music by the Birch Graft ensemble.
“That’s going to be amazing,” Reetz said. “The band is led by Bryan LeFay, who provided musical accompaniment to the film ‘Der Golem’ in 2014. It was mindblowing, so I’m bringing him back.”
The festival will feature visits by filmmakers, most notably Bobcat Goldthwait, who’ll attend a screening of his 2009 indie film “World’s Greatest Dad” and receive the festival’s Outstanding Achievement in Directing award.
“Since retiring from standup comedy, he’s become one of the more interesting independent-film directors,” Reetz said. “His stuff is sort of offbeat and a bit twisted and always has a lot of humor.”
Olympia Film Festival
What: The 33rd annual festival features lots of live performance along with screenings of films.
When: Thursday through Nov. 13.
Where: Capitol Theater, 206 Fifth Ave. SE, Olympia.
Tickets: $10, $7 for Olympia Film Society members, $4 for children 12 and younger. Children are admitted free to Kids Club films. Full and partial passes are available.
Information: 360-754-6670, olympiafilmfestival.org.
Opening-night gala: 7 p.m. Thursday. $15, $10 for members.
Built to Spill: 8 p.m. Nov. 4. $15, $12 for members.
Caspar Babypants: 2 p.m. Nov. 6. $10, $5 for kids 12 and younger.
“World’s Greatest Dad” with director Bobcat Goldthwait: 7 p.m. Nov. 12. $15, $10 for members.
All Freakin’ Night: Midnight Nov. 13 (doors open at 11 p.m. Nov. 12). $20, $15 for members.
Closing-night standup comedy: 8 p.m. Nov. 13. $12, $9 for members.