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Weekend Pick: Sagebrush Hills Film Festival a boon to local movie buffs

Here, nearly two decades into the century, we can sit in our homes, computers in our laps, and access an online film selection so vast as to be essentially limitless.

And still, with virtually the entire cinematic world available at home, we go out to movies. We’re driven by some desire to leave our cocoons and our pajamas and actually venture out in the world to see them.

They’re better that way, movies. There’s something about sitting among other people, watching on a bigger screen and experiencing a film the old-fashioned way. It’s the difference between laughing alone and laughing along with a room full of people.

Film’s power to pull people out of their bubbles and into a community setting is what the Sagebrush Hills Film Festival is based on. Festival founders Soo Choi and Clayton Bussey aren’t film experts. They’re film fans, and they figured this town has a lot of film fans. Their festival’s slogan: “Let’s watch a movie together.”

That doesn’t mean these are just any movies, though. Sagebrush Hills, which celebrates its fourth year this weekend, has a broad slate of movies including such disparate fare as the smart-and-silly vampire send-up “What We Do in the Shadows” and the gripping documentary “Vessel,” about a Dutch doctor’s efforts to provide abortion services to women without other legal alternatives.

The schedule also includes critically lauded films that never had much of a theatrical run here, if they had any at all. “A Ghost Story,” for instance, stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara in a supernatural drama that plumbs the very nature of existence and time. Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade” is a heartbreaking and funny look back at the high-stakes world of middle school interpersonal relationships. And “The Florida Project” takes Sean Baker’s directorial audacity and filters it through a dysfunctional family story.

Those are just a few highlights. The three-day event is full of films of all kinds. Some are free, some require tickets, but all are worth leaving your home to experience.

If you go

What: Sagebrush Hills Film Festival.

When: 6-11 p.m. Friday; 12:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday; 12:30-8:30 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Yakima Valley Museum, 2105 Tieton Drive, on Friday and Sunday; The Hop Shop, 702 N. First Ave., and Gilbert Cellars, 5 N. Front St., on Saturday; Glenwood Square, 5110 Tieton Drive, and Yakima Valley Museum on Sunday.

Tickets: $40 for a three-day pass, includes Silver Screen Gala on Friday; $8 for some single screenings, free for others.

The movies: “A Ghost Story,” “The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales,” “The Biggest Little Farm,” “The Black Stallion,” “Captain Fantastic,” “Eighth Grade,” “The Florida Project,” “Inventing Tomorrow,” “Vessel,” “What We Do In the Shadows,” “Your Name.”

More information:

Reach Pat Muir at

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