Windrider Film forum returns to Atherton


Windrider Film Forum returns to the Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center in Atherton for an expanded "very selective" showing of independent films April 14 to 16.

"We bring the best of the best from Sundance and other film festivals," says Terri Bullock of Atherton, the director of Windrider Bay Area.

Now in its seventh season here, the forum has grown from being a one-day event last year at Hillview Middle School in Menlo Park, to three evenings of cinema and conversation at the M-A Performing Arts Center, which seats 492.

This year there will be feature-length films shown on both opening and closing nights, and the middle night will showcase three award-winning short films. Each evening's program will start at 7 p.m. and end with question-and-answer sessions with people who were involved with the films.

Filmmakers and subjects of the films travel here for the event and stay at sponsors' homes. The forum depends on corporate sponsors, individual donors, and a largely volunteer work force.

Below is the lineup for each night.


Thursday, April 14

The forum opens with "Searchdog," the 2016 "Best of Fest" Selection at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. The movie tracks four years in the life of a former Marine turned police sergeant who saves dogs from shelters and trains them to do search-and-rescue missions.

After the showing, filmmaker Mary Healey Jamiel and Sgt. Matthew Zarrella (with his dog, Buster) will participate in a panel discussion.


Friday, April 15

Three short films will be shown:

● "This Way Up," winner of the 2016 Windrider International Student Film Festival (WISFF) Grand Jury Award and the 2015 Student Academy Awards in Narrative. The story involves an unemployed man living in a Las Vegas storm drain who creates a fake life to keep his daughter in the dark about his circumstances.

● "Frogman," winner of the 2016 WISFF Honorable Mention in Documentary. The film covers a boy's complicated relationship with his father, a Navy SEAL team member who is gone on secret missions for long stretches of time.

● "Day One," winner of the 2016 WISFF Director's Choice Award and a nominee for this year's Academy Award in Best Short Film Live Action. Inspired by a true story, the movie depicts a woman's first day on the job as a translator working with an Army unit searching for a terrorist.

The Q&A panel will include Mike Langer, producer of "This Way Up"; Patrick Humphrey, narrator and real-life son of the Frogman; and Henry Hughes, a former paratrooper who served two tours in Afghanistan and later made and directed "Day One."


Saturday, April 16

"How to Dance in Ohio," a feature film that premiered at last year's Sundance Film Festival, follows three teenagers on the spectrum of autism and their experiences getting ready to go to a formal spring dance.

After the screening, Dr. Emilio Amigo, founder and clinical director of Amigo Family Counseling, and Caroline McKenzie will talk with the audience. They are both featured in the film.


Tickets: Go to windriderbayarea.org to buy tickets, at $15 for adults and $10 for students. Tickets may be purchased at the door.

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Short story writers wanted!

The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

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