Nevada City Film Festival (NCFF) presents Watch & Wonder, a 3-day mini-fest for the Young and Young at Heart, featuring programming that inspires a sense of awe through the magic of film, dance, puppetry, and more, August 25-27 at the historic Nevada Theatre.

Coming off of a successful twenty-third annual international film festival and Movies Under the Pines outdoor film series, NCFF is launching a new event that will appeal to all ages, with an emphasis on younger audiences.

“We worked with the Nevada Theatre this year on securing a few extra weekends to present year-round sponsored film events,” explained Jesse Locks, NCFF Executive Director. “Pre-pandemic we had presented animated programming from Pixar and Dreamworks to our local elementary and middle schools, so it only seemed natural to expand and offer something that would stoke curiosity and learning while also offering the community something entirely unique.”

Watch & Wonder - A Nevada City Mini Film Festival for the Young and Young at Heart

Watch & Wonder is curated by Pamela Vadakan, a film lover and archivist who brings a wealth of experience to the event. Last fall, she worked with NCFF to bring Home Movie Day to Nevada City. Her day job is as the director of California Revealed, a state funded program which helps libraries, archives and historical societies digitize and preserve their special collections related to California history, art and culture (including Nevada County Library). For Watch & Wonder she has also collaborated with the Exploratorium Cinema Arts, Pacific Film Archive, Harvard Film Archive, and Canyon Cinema on some of these programs.

“You’ll find Surprise, joy, laughter, inspiration. There will be a little bit of looking back, a little bit of nostalgia, but we’re also offering new perspectives too,” said Vadakan. “The films weave together several thematic threads: music, nature, puppetry and the handmade. Each day we’ll have a workshop where you can bring a little piece of the festival home with you: floral printing, puppet making, and filmmaking.” 

Friday Events

Friday’s events begin at 10am with a morning program for preschoolers with kinetic dance animations and shadow play, with music, movement and stretches between films, led by Kristi Keefe (Village in Motion). The afternoon program at 1pm is presented by Exploratorium Cinema Arts will touch on themes of kinetics and nature followed by a special plant printing workshop. School groups are welcome!

Saturday Events

On Saturday at 9am, the infamous Swazzle Puppeteers (“Waffles and Mochi”, “Kidding”, “Crank Yankers”) will present a full day of exploring the wonder of puppetry including short films from Treebees, Pee-wee’s Playhouse, The Muppet Show, and Homemade Puppet Dreams for Families with introductions, a 2pm puppet building workshop, followed by The Great Muppet Caper – Jim Henson’s 1981 musical heist comedy. 

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Sunday Events

All-ages will be delighted with Sunday’s 10am paint-and-scratch-on film workshop. If you want to create as a painter and filmmaker, you have the great opportunity to make your own experimental animation 16mm film without a camera. In this workshop led by filmmaker and archivist Kate Dollenmayer, we’ll explore the many techniques of cameraless filmmaking and discover new ones along the way. Participants are encouraged to choose their materials and tools, then scratch, paint and collage directly onto the surface of film. At the end, all projects will be spliced together and projected as a one-of-a-kind collective film, followed by a program of cameraless films made by Norman McLaren, Len Lye and Jodie Mack.

Local Student Films

At 1pm, enjoy a program that highlights short films submitted by kids from the local community and around the globe. If you’re interested in submitting a film, please respond to our open call. Deadline is August 20.

Fantasy Feature Films

Each day wraps with a special evening feature at 7pm – Labyrinth (Friday), The NeverEnding Story (Saturday), and The Last Unicorn (Sunday). These films will take you back to the 80s golden age of handmade and hand-drawn fantasy magic. Sit back, watch and wonder! 

“It’s important to be reminded of the infinite mysteries of the world, and of its infinite perspectives to explore. Children know this and teach this every day,” shared Vadakan. “We have the potential to always learn, and hopefully, perpetually grow. There is no better way to feel wonder and awe than sitting in the movie theater and experiencing a film that reframes the world for you in new, exciting, ways!” 

WHAT: Watch & Wonder – A Nevada City Mini Film Festival for the Young and Young at Heart

WHEN: August 25-27, 2023

WHERE: Nevada Theatre, 401 Broad Street, Nevada City

TICKETS: Workshops Free – Capacity Limited to 50, Kids under 10 must be accompanied by an adult. Evening Fantasy Films $8/GA.