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Weekend Pick: Ellensburg Film Festival has wild variety

The Ellensburg Film Festival celebrates its 15th year this weekend with a wildly varied slate of films befitting its goal of offering well-known classics alongside unearthed gems.

This year’s classics include a couple of personal favorites, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” and John Hughes’ “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

The former, a 1954 Technicolor masterpiece, is the perfect slow-build suspense film. Even Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly’s quick-witted verbal sparring in the beginning is underscored by Hitchcock’s veneer of menace.

And the latter, a generational comedy classic from 1986, is a case study in how perspectives change over time. It’s undergone a critical reevaluation as society has begun to recognize that slick dudes who get away with whatever they want and never have to face consequences maybe shouldn’t be seen as heroes. But it’s still a funny movie.

The other titles you’ll recognize are the groundbreaking 1996 Robin Williams and Nathan Lane comedy “The Birdcage” and all four “Toy Story” films.

Among the titles you (probably) haven’t heard of are such intriguing films as “La Flaca,” a 2018 fiction-documentary hybrid about transgender immigrant woman Arely Vazquez, who leads the Santa Muerta cult in Queens, N.Y.; “Robbery of the Heart,” a 2019 documentary about the German city of Wetter’s attempts to reconcile itself with its history on the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht; and “Patrinell: The Total Experience,” a documentary about Seattle’s “first lady of gospel,” the Rev. Patrinell Staten Wright, and her attempts to maintain her choir in the face of Seattle’s gentrification.

And that’s just a small sampling. There are plenty of other films, both shorts and features, many of them made in or focused on the Pacific Northwest. For local film lovers, it’s definitely worth the half-hour drive from Yakima to Ellensburg.

If you go

What: Ellensburg Film Festival.

When: Friday-Sunday.

Where: McConnell Theatre on the campus of Central Washington University; Kittitas County Historical Museum, 114 E. Third Ave.; Hal Holmes Community Center, 201 Ruby St.

Tickets: Single sessions $6 online, $8 door ($3 online, $4 door for students; $4 online, $7 door for seniors); festival passes $50 online, $60 door ($10 for students online or door; $25 online, $30 door for seniors).

Information and full schedule:

Reach Pat Muir at

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