What is the CASCADIA International Women’s Film Festival (CASCADIA)?
- CASCADIA is a multi-day annual film festival celebrating exceptional films directed by women from
around the world. Now entering its seventh year, CASCADIA is one of only a handful of festivals
in the U.S. currently dedicated to this purpose. Since its first festival in 2017, CASCADIA has
presented the films of 185 women. The organization also works year-round to provide film
production, exhibition, and distribution education.
- The CASCADIA festival spans all film genres: narrative, live-action, animation, documentary, and
experimental films of all lengths.
- CASCADIA is based in Bellingham, WA., a city of 90,000 on the shores of Puget Sound. It lies about
halfway between the film centers of Seattle, WA, and Vancouver, BC. The city enjoys strong local and
regional support for the arts. It is also a destination for hikers, kayakers, climbers, sailors, and other
outdoor enthusiasts. Increasingly, filmmakers are attracted to Bellingham for its proximity to urban and
rural environments, as well as the ocean, lakes, rivers, and mountains. Bellingham is also home to
Western Washington University, with 16,000 undergraduates and graduate enrollment, including the
well-regarded College of Fine and Performing Arts. It also is home to one of the finest sculpture gardens in the country
- CASCADIA is an IRS-registered nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.
What else does CASCADIA do, besides run a film festival?
- Helps women directors pursue their goals, by offering educational forums, panel discussions, and
director Q&As, designed to encourage information-sharing and networking.
- Educates audiences and the community, by partnering with businesses, Western Washington
University, arts, and other organizations to sponsor forums, workshops, special film showings and
- Promotes Bellingham, Whatcom County, and the surrounding area as a destination for filmmakers
and festival goers to spend time and enjoy the city’s and region’s many restaurants,
microbreweries, shops, and hotels.
When and where does CASCADIA occur?
- CASCADIA’s festival occurs in Bellingham over several days in the spring. The 2023 festival is
scheduled to be May 4-7 in person with an online festival May 11- 21. Approximately 40 films will
be accepted for the 2023 festival.
- During the two years of the pandemic, CASCADIA presented its festivals online and was one of the first film festivals in the country to do so. In May 2022, CASCADIA returned to the theatre for an in-person festival followed by an online version. Directors traveled from Los Angeles, New York,
Atlanta, Vancouver B.C., and Seattle to take part in social networking events, panel discussions, and Q&As with the audience.
- CASCADIA puts film lovers face to face with filmmakers. Recorded versions of the educational panel discussions are also now available on CASCADIA’s website.
What has CASCADIA done to date?
Since its first festival in 2017, CASCADIA has showcased films by more than 150 women directors from around the world. More than half of the films shown at the 2023 festival were made by women of color. Films by students, emerging directors, and Indigenous women were also included in the festival program.
In October 2015 CASCADIA presented its first event: women-directed documentary films at the Pickford Film Center’s annual “Doctober” Documentary Film Festival in Bellingham. CASCADIA has participated in Doctober ever since. This year, the film will be an audience favorite from the 2023 festival, “Pasang: In the Shadow of Everest.”
In April 2017 CASCADIA premiered its first multi-day film festival in Bellingham, WA. Directors who attended the festival, including five from other countries, participated in Q&A sessions, press interviews, workshops, and panel discussions. CASCADIA selects an honored guest to recognize during the festival who is chosen for her career achievements, the contributions she’s made to the film industry and the art, and her role as an
advocate for women in the industry.
Cheryl Boone Isaacs, immediate past president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was our Honored Guest at the 2018 festival.
The 2019 Honored Guest was Freida Lee Mock, an Academy Award-winning documentary director who presented a special screening of her film: “Anita: Speaking Truth to Power” at the festival.
In 2020, CASCADIA celebrated the centennial of the 19th Amendment and recognized the American suffragists with a special screening and online discussion of the film, “Iron Jawed Angels” directed by Katja von Garnier.
The 2022 Honored Guest was director Martha Coolidge, one of the most prolific women directors working today with more than 50 film and television credits. Coolidge was the first woman president of the Directors’ Guild of America, the powerful union to which all directors belong.
During the spring festivals and “Doctober,” and throughout the year, CASCADIA sponsors multiple networking and educational opportunities for working and aspiring filmmakers. These are often offered in partnership with several local and regional organizations, including Western Washington University (WWU), Whatcom Community College, the University of Washington, Bothell, Bellingham Film, and other organizations. Workshops have included sessions on mentorship opportunities in the film industry, film as activism, the art of the short film, immersive reality technology, and script writing.
Why the focus on films directed by women?
- A woman’s perspective is too rarely seen in film. An art form that teaches, informs, inspires, and motivates, is missing an essential perspective on humanity when women’s voices are not heard. This problem exists internationally, but especially in Hollywood.
- Numerous studies now document the persistent, ongoing failure of Hollywood studios to fund and support the work of women directors.
- Stories of sexual harassment and sexual violence against women in the entertainment business frequently point to one principal factor driving this bullying, and predatory behavior toward women: the lack of women in decision-making roles.
- CASCADIA is committed to changing this culture, by offering a venue, and a support system, for women to tell their stories through the medium of film.
- A film festival dedicated to showcasing quality work by women is an important and welcome extension of new technology-driving opportunities, by creating a new forum for the work of women directors to seen and their voices heard.
- In short, CASCADIA fills a much-needed niche, by providing a platform to showcase the best of women-directed films.
Who can enter a film, and how are entries accepted?
CASCADIA presents a curated selection of women-directed films. Short films are submitted through www.FilmFreeway.com. Suggestions are welcome from filmmakers who wish to have CASCADIA consider their feature, but the festival is not currently open to feature submissions.
Short film submissions are open through November 20, 2022 for the 2023 festival. Each short film is assigned to three of our 30 first-round reviewers located all over the globe. Films scoring the highest are forwarded to the program selection committee for the final decision.
Who are the people working on CASCADIA?
CASCADIA is a diverse group of people with a love of film and a commitment to opportunity and diversity in the art as in other walks of life. They have had or currently are engaged in successful careers in film or other art forms, business, education, recreation, community development, and government. Most, but not all, are connected to Bellingham and the Pacific Northwest. Many have ties to or still work in other areas of the US, Canada, or other parts of the world.
CASCADIA’s Program Director, Claudia Puig, is responsible for curating the festival’s feature films. The Los Angeles-based Puig is also program director for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, is President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and is heard on NPR’s
All share a vision of building a unique international event to showcase the work of women directors and create extraordinary opportunities for filmmakers to work in Bellingham, Whatcom County, and the surrounding area. (See cascadiafilmfest.org for information on our board of directors and advisory panels.)
Why should I support CASCADIA?
You should support CASCADIA if:
- You understand the power of film to engage, inform, inspire and empower change in both
individuals and society.
- You see that the absence of women’s perspectives in this powerful art form results in a. dangerous imbalance, affecting the way we see and seek solutions to concerns among individuals and communities.
- You want to support the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County, by encouraging people from outside this area to come here for a festival, vacation, and to support local businesses.
- You have a business that offers goods or services that interests those who attend the CASCADIA Festival.
- You’re committed to diversity, in art as in other walks of life and community.
- You just love film and want to support quality work.
How do I volunteer for CASCADIA?
We are always looking for more volunteers and would love to start a conversation with you! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org