A sign advertising the annual Homer Documentary Film Festival hangs on the side of the Homer Theatre Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018 in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

A sign advertising the annual Homer Documentary Film Festival hangs on the side of the Homer Theatre Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018 in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Homer Documentary Film Festival on deck

Film and documentary buffs in the Homer area should dust off their best sitting pants and polish their biggest popcorn bowls: the Homer Documentary Film Festival is coming to town next week.

Now in its 16th year, the long-running tradition brings true stories from filmmakers all over the country (and world) right to Homer’s one-screen theater from Sept. 12-19. The festival features nine documentaries hand picked by its creator and owner of the Homer Theatre, Jamie Sutton.

This year, they are:

“the Biggest little Farm” follows the efforts of John and Molly Chester over eight years as they leave city life behind and strive to build a sustainable farm on 200 acres of land outside Los Angeles. Directed by John Chester, the film won the Audience Award for Best Doc at the 2019 Sarasota Film Festival 2019 and the Audience Award for Best Doc at the 2019 Palm Springs International Film Festival.

“Pavarotti” gives viewers a never-before-seen look into the life of Italian opera singer Luciano Pavarotti. Director Ron Howard combines footage of Pavarotti’s iconic performances along with footage that has not been accessed before to take viewers around the world along with Pavarotti.

“Echo in the Canyon” takes one back to the 1960s to explore the explosion of music that came out of what’s known as the Laurel Canyon music scene. Director Andrew Slater paints a picture of what it was like when that scene was in its beginning stages, and shows viewers how the echoes of bands like The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, and The Mamas & the Papas sounded across the country and world.

“Maiden” is the story of Tracy Edwards, who in 1989 did what many thought to be impossible. Edwards led the first ever all-female crew of a competitive yacht race, the Whitbread Round the World Race. Director Alex Holmes takes viewers along for the ride and recounts how the women faired in the competition that stretched over 33,000 miles and lasted nine months.

“For Sama” takes people inside conflict-torn Aleppo, Syria in the form of a self-filmed love letter from Waad al-Kateab to her future daughter, Sama. Directed by al-Kateab and Edward Watts, the film follows al-Kateab over five years in Aleppo chronicling how she fell in love, got married and gave birth to her daughter, all while waging an internal battle over whether to flee for safety or fight for freedom.

“Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am” showcases the late author leading an assembly of other writers, as well as critics, in a discussion of race and history in America. Directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, the film offers an intimate meditation on Morrison as it examines her life and career.

“Honeyland” dives deep into an ancient tradition kept alive on the Balkan Peninsula in Macedonia: wild beekeeping. Directed by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubo Stefanov, it studies one woman keeping to that tradition in harmony with the bees and gives the audience a lot to think about in terms of the relationship between humans and nature.

“The Serengeti Rules” follows a ground of young scientists in the 1960s as they head out into wilderness in all different corners of the planet from the Serengeti to the Arctic Ocean. There, they discover a set of natural rules to seem to apply to all life on earth. Directed by Nicolas Brown, the film catches up with those scientists now to reveal how their work turned the human understanding of nature upside down.

“Human Nature” explores the far-reaching implications of CRISPR technology, which allows scientists to edit or modify DNA sequences. This technology allows for the curing of diseases or the altering of our children’s DNA structure. Directed by Adam Bolt, the film explores this technology from the point of view of scientists who brought it into being, as well as the people it’s affecting.

The festival will kick off with a gala event on Thursday, Sept. 12 where attendees can enjoy a barbecue and watch “the Biggest little Farm.” The gala costs $20, or $15 for seniors, youth and military. Or, the gala is free with purchase of a festival pass, which gets the viewer into every film along with the kickoff event.

The festival pass costs $55 for seniors, youth and military, and $65 for everyone else. Individual film tickets can be purchased 30 minutes before each screening. General admission is $9, and $7 for youth, seniors and military. Matinee admission is also $7.

Festival passes are available at the Homer Theatre box office or at the Homer Bookstore. For more information, visit homerdocfest.com.

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