Grass-roots creativity and Alaska filmmaking in video fest

Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2002

Avalanches and eye candy come to Juneau with The Panhandle Picture Show.

Described as "a quirky little video festival" by organizers Kim Lehner and Mark Fontenot, the Haines-based contest for short movies screens at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at the Goldtown Nickelodeon theater.

Fontenot said his partner Lehner conceived of the contest.

"Her whole thing is to foster creativity at the grass-roots level," he said. "She wants to provide outlets for people to do art, especially noncommercial outlets."

Lehner and Fontenot will be in Juneau to introduce the show. Lehner, a past president of the Haines Arts Council, said 19 video entries were submitted for this, the third biennial contest. The videos, five to 10 minutes long, debuted March 2 in Haines. A panel of judges rated the submissions on creative and technical aspects, and awarded cash prizes.

Scott Baxter of Juneau won fourth place with a nature video called "Alaskan Eye Candy." Other Juneau entries were "Little Norway Festival," a documentary by director Rik Pruett, and "Five Reasons not to Drink," inspired by reality television and directed by Eric Morrison.

Third place ($100) was awarded to Steve Kroschel of Haines for his film about avalanches, "Into the White."

"Into The White" was one of the few submissions shot on film, not videotape, said Fontenot.

"It's incredibly crisp," he said. "It doesn't quite read as a straight documentary. It's tongue in cheek, although it deals with a deadly topic."

The Audience Choice Award ($50) went to Doug Fine of Haines for his entry "Talk Around the Cave," a spoof about local politics.

Second place ($250) was given to an experimental film entitled "Summer Home," directed by Jason Halprin from Berkeley, Calif.

Fontenot said he doesn't really know how the California filmmaker got wind of the Haines contest, which drew four entries from Washington state, one from Colorado and one from London, England. Six entries came in from Haines and one from Ketchikan. He said Lehner notified a few university film departments about the contest, and handed "call for entry" posters to friends headed down south, with instructions to "leave these in cafes where the right people will see them."

"I think the Alaska mystique worked for us," he said.

The contest is open to all genres, but films and videos must be less than 20 minutes long. The longest entries were cut from the screening Saturday to keep the event to about two hours. Admission is $7.

Riley Woodford can be reached at

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