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Searchlights, red carpets and flashbulbs – must be Hollywood!

The 2024 edition of the Snakebite Film Festival got off to a glamorous head start Wednesday evening with a snazzy sold-right-out red carpet affair at downtown Penticton's Pizzeria Tratto.

<who>PhotoCredit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

Sponsors, donors and potential sponsors were treated like stars at the exclusive event intended primarily for them, just one day before the Festival officially kicks off Thursday with the first flick (John Water's wild and wacky 1988 comedy Hairspray) and the Opening Gala at Black Antler restaurant.

<who>PhotoCredit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

Everyone arriving at the event, called "Friends of Snakebite," got the full Hollywood treatment. Outside the restaurant was a pair of high-powered searchlights shining into the night sky. Leading to the door was a fully walkable red carpet. Just past that was a glitzy photo station.

<who>PhotoCredit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

After all the tables were filled, Festival founder and driving force Carl Meadows addressed and thanked those in attendance, many of whom have contributed directly to the effort, touted as "Awakening Culture, Uniting Communities."

<who>PhotoCredit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

And that effort has been quite impressive. Snakebite seems to gain traction each successive year. In 2024, the upgrades include Wednesday's "Friends of Snakebite" gala, a bump in total movies from five to seven, and a brand new association with the Okanagan Society of Independent Filmmaking.

<who>PhotoCredit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

It's that last development that may well pay the biggest long-term dividends.

<who>PhotoCredit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

In its first year partnering with the Festival, the OSIF organized something called the "5-Day Film Challenge," in which budding independent filmmakers had five days to write, produce and edit a short film.

<who>PhotoCredit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

Eleven of those films will be shown to a packed house Saturday in what will arguably be this year's most intriguing show. The Festival will present the eventual winner with $1,000 and hand over another $3,000 as a bursary for up and coming filmmakers.

OSIF prez Chelsea McEvoy, having a great time Wednesday with several other members of her organization, seemed thrilled with the relationship.

<who>PhotoCredit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"We wanted to have more outreach in the southern interior," she said, "so when Carl asked if we wanted to be involved, we said yes right away.

"We ended up with eleven teams competing, and you have to multiply that by ten or 15 people per team. So we had well over 100 people involved, and from what I hear the results are excellent."

<who>PhotoCredit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

According to McEvoy, the OSIF will use that bursary as prize money for future competitions to encourage more filmmakers and more films.

"We hope this competition happens every year going forward," she said, "and that it gets bigger and bigger. We'd love to be involved."

<who>PhotoCredit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

Festival boss Meadows was just as pumped over the new OSIF collaboration.

"It's so exciting," he said Wednesday night. "On the 11th of January, filmmakers had to sign up. They then had five days to produce scripts, get props and produce and edit their films. I've since spoken with many people in the industry who are judges for the competition and they say the quality is unbelievable."

<who>PhotoCredit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

We asked Meadows if the event has indeed grown as it seems to have done.

"We'll see more than 1,200 people going thru the festival in its four days this year," he said. "And 54% of them are not from Penticton. They're from various places throughout the province and the country and the USA. And internationally too.

<who>PhotoCredit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"And right now, there are very few tickets left for any of the films. The passes and the events are all sold out."

Tratto co-owner Chris Royal was part of the serving staff Wednesday evening and looked like he was enjoying himself.

<who>PhotoCredit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"We've been involved with Snakebite since the start in some form," he said. "The very first year, my wife was in one of the inaugural films. And I'm a third generation actor, though I'm in recovery now.

"It was weird for me. I started as an actor (Royal starred in the TV series "X-Files" back in the day, amongst other stage and screen accomplishments) and got into restaurants later in life.

<who>PhotoCredit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"But I'll always support the arts over anything else."

Enjoying a pre-dinner drink when we came by was Cary Schneiderat of Penticton-based legal firm McLeod & Schneiderat, long the event's top sponsor.

<who>PhotoCredit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"We've been involved from the first year," he said. "We love supporting community events and this year we wanted to go all out with the Festival because we really like the partnership formed with the filmmakers.

"We just want everyone to have opportunity."

<who>PhotoCredit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

For more info on Snakebite Film Festival or to purchase tickets to whatever is still available, head to its website here.

<who>PhotoCredit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>



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