15th Annual Salem Film Fest Kicks Off


The Salem Film Fest returns this weekend for its fifteenth annual documentary film festival, tapping films that explore craft beer, Claymation, women in the Afghani court system, among many other films, with most of the 47 features and shorts selected to screen for the first time in Massachusetts.  

This is now Massachusetts' largest all documentary film festival, and this year the event will take place in a hybrid format, with in-person screenings in Salem and Beverly from Thursday, March 24 to Sunday, March 27 at The Peabody Essex Museum Cinema Salem, The Cabot and the Manninen Center for the Arts at Endicott College in Beverly, followed by virtual streaming available to viewers from Monday, March 28 to Sunday, April 3.

Salem Film Fest kicks off Thursday, March 24 with the Massachusetts premiere of director Marq Evans’ “Claydream,” about the artistic legacy of Claymation pioneer Will Vinton and his court battle with Nike’s Phil Knight.

Other festival highlights include the New England premiere of “Exposure,” directed by Holly Morris, who won awards recognition at SFF 2016.  She returns this year with a film spotlighting a group of women from the Western and Arab world who join forces on what might be the last surface expedition to the North Pole.  

Also in the lineup is the premiere of co-directors Sam French and Clementine Malpas’ “With This Breath I Fly,” which examines women’s rights and Afghanistan’s court system and “One Pint At A Time,” director Aaron Hosé’s examination of the multi-billion dollar craft brewing industry and Black-owned breweries eager to shift the historical perception of who makes and drinks beer.

"Documentaries offer a way for us to connect with the world, and the discussions that follow our film screenings are so important. Salem Film Fest is all about connection and engagement,” said SFF Co-Festival Director Sadry Assouad.

Salem Film Fest will present 27 feature films and four shorts blocks with filmmakers attending and participating in Q&As at most in-person screenings.  The festival will offer events, parties, as well as live music over the four days of in-person programming.  Free events include the Mass Reality Check, a shorts showcase for Massachusetts college students, and Keeping It Reel which highlights films by Massachusetts high school students. 

In an effort to keep in-person festival a safe environment, current venue-specific public health protocols will be followed.

During the in-person festival, five awards will be presented to filmmakers: The Special Jury Award and Michael Sullivan Award for Documentary Journalism each include a $1,000 cash prize, The American Cinematographer Magazine Award as judged by ACM’s Editor-in-Chief Stephen Pizzello, the inaugural Cultrera Cuts Edit Award honoring SFF Co-Founder and longtime Festival Director Joe Cultrera, and the Award for Best Short.  The festival culminates on the last day of virtual programming with the Audience Award as determined by audience balloting throughout the in-person and virtual portions of the festival.

Tickets for in-person screenings start at $45 for a five-screening pack.  For information on films, the festival schedule, and ticketing go to Salemfilmfest.com.

marq evans, sadry assouad, sam french, cabot, joe cultrera, the american cinematographer magazine award, will vinton, clementine malpas, new england, stephen pizzello, phil knight, manninen center for the arts, cuts edit award, michael sullivan, aaron hosé, nike, holly morris, sff co-festival