Annual Homer Documentary Film Festival returns this week

Hold onto your popcorn, it’s time to talk docs. The Homer Documentary Film Festival is coming to a theater near you — well, the only theater near you — starting tonight.

Now in its 15th year, the festival brings nine documentaries sourced from all over the country and Canada to the Homer Theatre for a full week of entertainment and enlightenment.

Those are the goals of festival organizer Jamie Sutton, who also owns the theater. He picks documentaries he thinks people will enjoy, but that will also teach them something they might not have known otherwise. His biggest goal, however, remains to have people walking out the door excited to come back the next year.

“I think this is one of the most fun things to do,” Sutton said. “For anyone to do, anywhere, but especially in Homer.”

Asked why it’s special to hold the festival in Homer, Sutton said it’s “because there’s so many people that give a damn, you know? And they’re interested, and their brains are firing on all cylinders. And they want to know stuff.”

This year’s selection includes two very publicized and talked about films: “Won’t You be my Neighbor?” and “RBG.” The former details the life and work of Fred Rogers, originator and host of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” while the latter follows the rise of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Sutton called these “classic biography documentaries done by really good storytellers.”

Other selections include “Three Identical Strangers,” the story of triplets separated at birth who find each other as young adults; “Bathtubs Over Broadway,” a musical documentary about the world of industrial musicals (yes, they’re really a thing); “Dark Money,” an examination of the role money plays in American elections; “The King,” in which creator Eugene Jarecki drives around in Elvis Presley’s Rolls Royce and compares the late star’s trajectory to that of the United States; “On Her Shoulders,” the story of a young woman tasked with being the spokesperson for her neglected community, the Yazidi; and “Pick of the Litter,” which documents the path some puppies take to becoming guide dogs for the blind.

One film Sutton singled out for Homer specifically is “Evolution of Organic,” a film directed by Oscar nominee Mark Kitchell. It tells the story of organic farming from its roots in the 1960s all the way up to present time.

“It’s such a Homer movie,” he said. “It’s about people moving their lives off the grid and getting to it, you know getting back down to what matters in the world.”

The festival kicks off with a gala tonight at 6:15 p.m. at the theater with a barbecue dinner, after which attendees will get to watch “Won’t You be my Neighbor” and previews for all the other films. The gala costs $20 general admission and $15 for seniors, children, and members of the military or Peace Corps.

The films will be played on a rotating schedule every day from Friday to Thursday, Sept. 27, at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. There are three chances to see each documentary, and four chances to see “RBG.”

Each film costs $9 for general admission and $7 for seniors, military and children under 14. Passes for the entire festival are available for $65 general admission and $55 for discounted groups. The pass gets you into the festival and the gala.

“One of the nicest things about putting on a documentary film festival, is there are all these people who paid money … and they’re interested,” Sutton said. “And they walk in, and they say ‘I don’t know much about this subject, but you say it’s a good movie … so, bring it on.’ What an attitude, right?”

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