For more than 100 years, makers of short films and full-length major motion pictures, as well as commercial and music video productions, have chosen to film on location, using the grandeur of mountainous White Pine County and the old world charm of Ely as the sets and backdrops for their projects. 

Primed and ready to make White Pine County history this weekend, The Ely Film Festival will be the first Hollywod-scale celebration of some of those cinematic achievements that feature local filmmakers and award-winning silver screen showcasings of our unique city and surrounding geography. 

From Friday through Sunday, March 13 -15, the Historic Ely Central Theater, The Postal Palace, Bristlecone Convention Center and The Nevada Northern Railway will play hosts to an international collection of movie industry professionals bringing their artistic creations to our small town big screen.  

Sharing the spotlight, White Pine County students that have made and submitted their own homemade films to the festival will also be a focal point of the weekend’s events. The top student films will be awarded prizes during Saturday’s schedule, presented by a special guest. 

Offering the community informative and interactive panel discussions beginning on Friday at the Bristlecone Convention Center, the Ely Film Festival will present several opportunities to hear directly from the film industry pros themselves. 

At 1 p.m. on Friday, local White Pine High School graduates, filmmaker Dutch Marich, and professional photographer, Kyle Ford will speak on what it took to chase down their dreams and make it in the entertainment and artistic industries. 

Joining this panel, will be professional photographer, Checko Salgado, along with Canadian Screen Award winning director, Maxime Giroux, and film expert and author, Robin Holabird.  

The diverse group panel will discuss shooting on location before discussing with attendees what it takes to get the perfect shot in your own film or photograph. This is a unique chance for any and all interested in Nevada’s movie history, as well as how art and technical elements blend together to make impactful and imaginative film.

Friday’s 6 p.m. feature film at the Ely Central Theater is “The GreatDarkened Days,” the recipient of eight nominations for Canadian Screen Awards, ultimately winning in five categories, including: Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction/Production Design, and Best Supporting Actress. Filmed in Ely and throughout White Pine County, this is a dark film that is a stark difference from the typical movie. 

“It is a difficult film to explain,” saidDirector Maxime Giroux. “It is more about the feeling of what the character is passing through, which is kind of a nightmare. It is a metaphor about my vision of this world today; a violent world where people have difficulty finding their place amidst too much invisible power by the people who want to take control of us, but it is a visually beautiful film because of Ely.” 

“The Great Darkened Days” may not be suitable for younger audiences. What is described as a chilling indictment of the loss of humanity in a timeless but violent dystopian world. Giroux said, “I wanted to play with cinema. The Charlie Chaplin character is a perfect character to play with, and one that was himself critical of capitalism. Charlie Chaplin was funny, but back then his characters were homeless or poor and we are playing with that.

“I wanted to shock people with the violence. Violence should always shock you when you see it, but the problem now is society is desensitized because shocking violence is all around us and that is dangerous. This violence and the increasing sense of dread is juxtaposed against the beauty of the background the characters inhabit. 

“The incredible landscapes were like paintings.  Everyone was amazed during shooting scenes, by the mountains and by your sunsets. There is nothing like that in Canada.”

Throughout the viewing of the film, audiences will be able to identify many of the locations this production utilized during filming.  

Giroux said choosing White Pine County was an easy choice, “After an extensive internet search for ghost towns and old trains, we traveled with our producers to about seven states for the movie to find the best location. We discovered the perfect landscapes in and around Ely. The train station is incredible and the murals in town were perfect for building the world of our film.”  

This director also said it wasn’t only the locations that helped make the low budget film a success, “Everyone at the train station was so helpful. They are great people. Without them there would have been no film. We won the Canadian Screen Awards in part because of Ely and White Pine.”

With Saturday holding even more panel discussions, and the student film awards, it is the night’s feature where the Ely Film Festival has the distinction of holding the world premiere of “Reaptown,” written and directed by White Pine alum Marich. Along with these exciting events over the course of this weekend, the film festival will conduct location tours, cocktail parties, and a train ride on one of the Nevada Northern Railway’s much filmed locomotives.

Come be a part of local film history and celebrate the art of cinema with provocative and engaging films that highlight why White Pine County and Ely are a new hot spot locale for filmmakers from all over the world.  Schedule details and tickets are available at https://elynevada.net/ely-film-festival/.