Celluloid Bainbridge Film Festival hosts films with Bainbridge connection

Courtesy Photos In film strip from top: “Rhondavision” features Bainbridge resident Johhny Garcia. “Outsourced” was directed and co-wrote by former Bainbridge resident John Jeffcoat

While growing up on Bainbridge Island, Brigid Maher used to hang out at the Historic Lynwood Theatre. A lot.

“We used to come every Sunday for the matinee,” she said on the phone from Washington, D.C., where she teaches at the School of Communication at American University.

When “Veiled Voices,” the film she wrote and directed, screens at Lynwood this Sunday during the 12th annual Celluloid Bainbridge Film Festival, Maher will be half-way around the world.

“I’m disappointed I won’t be there for the festival,” she said. “I fell in love with films in the Lynwood Theatre.”

Her absence is bittersweet. The reason Maher can’t be on Bainbridge for the screening of the film about Islamic religious leaders who happen to be female, is because the film has been accepted to the Aljazeera International Documentary Film Festival in Doha, Qatar.

She’ll be joined by the film’s co-producer Karen Bauer with whom Maher went to school – on Bainbridge Island.

“We met in math class in middle school,” she said.

The friends hung out together in high school but lost touch after graduation. They reconnected seven years ago.

“We realized we had taken similar paths without knowing it,” she said. “We both studied Arabic in the Middle East at different times,” she said.

Bauer was finishing up her doctoral dissertation when she called Maher, While Maher had taken the film route.

“She told me ‘I just finished interviewing Huda al-Habash, a religious leader in Damascus, Syria. You have to do a documentary,’” Maher said.

The result is their collaboration “Veiled Voices,” a 60-minute documentary that introduces American audiences to the world of “sheikhas,” women who are reviving their leadership role in Islam in the Middle East. The three women featured in the film are Ghina Hammoud in Lebanon, Dr. Su’ad Saleh in Egypt and Habash in Syria.

Maher, who will be in Qatar next week, credits her Bainbridge High School education for expanding her world view.

“I have to say, it was actually Bainbridge High School that sparked my interest. We had debates in American Studies Class and we talked about the Middle East. Mrs. Johannson’s class my senior year was influential,” she said.

“Bainbridge is an open-minded community that has produced some really thoughtful artists,” Maher said.

“This is a tribute to the community, really.”

Maher’s parents, John W. and Helen Maher will attend the 11:10 a.m. screening of “Veiled Voices,” one of 20 short and feature-length films that will screen back-to-back during the Bainbridge festival.

Each film must have some connection to Bainbridge Island. For example, John Jeffcoat, who directed and cowrote “Outsourced,” which will run at 6 p.m., lived on Bainbridge as a child. The film was edited by Brian Berdan and features actor Matt Smith, both of whom currently live on Bainbridge.

Bainbridge Island filmmaker Cameron Snow shot footage of last year’s Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and The Wolf.” Principle players of the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra provide commentary on why Prokofiev chose their instruments to represent certain characters in the story. Then the full orchestra plays the half-hour composition with Guy Sidora providing lively narration. The complete presentation, part of Celluloid Bainbridge Film Festival, lasts 50 minutes.