Annual music and film festival takes over Bay City

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Bay City hosted the 11th annual Hell’s Half Mile Music and Film Festival this past weekend.

The event kicked off Thursday evening with a reception, film screening and after party, and it continued all weekend with film screenings and live music performances all over downtown Bay City.

The event is named after a stretch of Bay City’s riverfront that, in the late 1800s, was lined with saloons, gambling houses and hotels that lumbermen frequented.

A number of events were hosted at the Delta College Planetarium and Scottish Rite Cathedral Auditorium, as well as the Empire Room, State Theatre, Electric Kitsch, Jake’s Corner Lounge, Tavern 101 and Studio 23. Some events were free, while others required a ticket or pass to get in.

In addition to movies and music, there were several other activities, such as a workshop on better social media presence and a rally on crowdfunding, which many musicians and filmmakers rely on for their projects.

The festival featured local musicians and filmmakers from Bay City, Detroit and Grand Rapids, as well as ones from as far away as Chicago, Atlanta and New York City.

Cole Waterman, the music planner for the event, said he was most excited to see the bands Kickback and Gringo Star perform Saturday night. He said his favorite thing about helping plan Hell’s Half Mile is choosing different bands to expose audiences to new things and the bands to new audiences.

In regards to a performance by the Northwoods Improvisors, an experimental jazz group from Midland, Veronica Rozek, a second-year graphic design major, said she enjoyed their performance.

“It was really awesome seeing them play so passionately,” she said.

She said she also liked the short films shown on Friday and said they shed insight on things she had not thought of before.

Each day, there were several feature films shown, as well as a compilation of short films. Those who saw the short films were given ballots to rate each film, so the highest rated film could win an award.

Filmmaker Brian Schulz, an Ann Arbor resident and native New Yorker, made the film “For Flint,” which was shown on Saturday.

His short documentary is about the Flint water crisis, but it is a different take on it than what everyone is used to seeing.

“It’s about the inspirational stories in wake of it,” Schulz said. “I wanted to tell a different story and look on the positive.”