The 10th Annual Waterfront Film Festival on the scenic shore of Lake Michigan was held June 12-15 in the artsy village of Saugatuck, MI. Midwest premieres and world premieres were among the eclectic selection of full-length feature films offered at the festival. Dozens of film shorts, seminars on various film-related topics, and special events were also sprinkled throughout the schedule. More than 14,000 tickets were sold to regular viewers for the various screenings. Also in attendance were numerous directors, producers, screenwriters, and actors. Following the tradition of many indie film festivals, open Q&A sessions with filmmakers followed most of the screenings.
Named by SAGindie as one of the Top Five Film Festivals, Waterfront's carefully selected movies served as a demonstration of the fact that notable independent film is often where the upcoming talent is found. As a general rule, independent films are created within the constraints of much lower budgets and shot in a fraction of the time frame of their commercial movie studio counterparts. Despite this, the Waterfront films displayed magnificent cinematography and beautiful sets. Many contained celebrity casts, while others showcased new talent.
Though I was not able to attend every film at the festival, there were, in my opinion, a few that stood out from the crowd. Dakota Skye was a clear winner on every level. A coming-of-age story about a teenage girl with the superhero power to know the truth behind the lies people tell, this movie ranks at the top of my list. Amongst the slew of recent superhero films, Dakota Skye managed to add a new spin that made the main character so essentially human. The writing was fresh and intelligent, while the directing invoked the perfect blend of adolescent angst and empathy. The casting was equally impressive and I have no doubt that we will be seeing more from these young talents in the future. A testament to its pure entertainment factor, the young man who sat next to me laughed so hard that he could barely recover between scenes. A complete review and a separate interview with director John Humber, writer Chad Shonk, and actor Ian Nelson will be published soon.