By Kaila Cove
The Pickford Film Center’s annual Doctober film festival runs this year from Sept. 28 through Nov. 1 and features documentaries about subjects as diverse as rodents and ballerinas.
“[Doctober is] Pickford’s month-long documentary film festival,” said Cole Wilder, who works at the theater. “This year, we’re playing 57 documentaries over the course of about 30 days.”
The month-long festival includes community events, panel discussions, Q&As, and a Doc-ED program, which Wilder said, “brings middle schools in from around Whatcom County to watch documentaries for free.”
“Doctober is great,” said member Josh Cerretti. “It’s exciting to have the whole month filled with all these movies.”
Jed Bailey, a Pickford member for 20 years, said, “People should come to Doctober because it’s always a good chance to expand your wisdom and awareness of things. It’s both entertaining and life affirming.”
During the film festival, the theater also hosts the Doctober Challenge where patrons attend as many documentaries as possible to fill punch cards. Participants can either choose to cash in their punch card for a prize or save them up for a drawing.
Raffle prizes range from Pickford merchandise to the grand prize, which allows participants the chance to win a “Goldfinger Card.” The Pickford only gives one of these memberships out each year. It means a year of free movies for the recipient and a friend at the Pickford.
Over opening weekend, Bailey said he went to five documentaries.
“I think I got about 52 last year.”
This year, Bailey said he plans to see all 57 documentaries.
The Pickford Film Center, located in downtown Bellingham on Bay Street, is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 that specializes in independent cinema. It’s mostly run by volunteers and relies on memberships as well as ticket sales to support its mission.
“It is important that people are a bit more open to movies that aren’t all the big blockbusters,” Wilder said.
Cerretti sees most of his movies at the Pickford because he likes the types of movies that they show.
“I like the small feel of it and the downtown location that the other theaters can’t provide,” he said.
Pickford is unique because they play films that people don’t usually see, said Bailey.
That’s the point of Doctober.
For example, one of the documentaries called “Pick of the Litter” is about five puppies that become guide dogs is showing at the Limelight, the Pickford’s second location for films.
Sierra Games, who works at Brigadoon Service Dogs, attended the movie and talked about her first Doctober and brought her service dog, Siena.
“It was very realistic, unlike other service dog documentaries I have seen,” Games said.
Though “Rodents of Unusual Size” and “A Ballerina’s Tale” have already played, there are plenty more documentaries and events throughout the month. Visit the Pickford website at www.pickfordfilmcenter.org for a complete schedule with show times.