Featured filmmakers to discuss films

ALPENA – Visitors to the Thunder Bay Film Festival will have an opportunity to hear from three featured filmmakers Saturday from 1-2 p.m. during the filmmakers panel. Brother-sister team Ann Belanger and Brian Belanger will be on the panel along with filmmaker Vince Deur to discuss each of their films and answer questions about the films, production or behind the scenes action.

Ann Belanger lives in Rogers City and said she is very excited to have two films in the festival and be on the panel.

“It’s humbling in a lot of ways, and completely unexpected, but I’m very excited,” Belanger said. “I’ve always loved history and arts and culture, and these projects really show that love.”

Belanger said both films, “A Century in Stone” and “November Requiem” work to preserve portions of history and tell the individual stories behind the big story.

“I love the story, but really it’s the people behind it that tell the story and make it so personal,” she said. “In ‘A Century in Stone’ we learned how natural resources pulled people from as far away as Europe, and how the quarry founded a lot of this region.”

November Requiem follows the stories of families who endured the grief of the sinking of the Carl D. Bradley and the immense loss of life.

“I love documentaries and I love the format,” Belanger said. “They allow me to bring forward something in a creative way to make people aware. Nature and history are my driving force and both are in these films.”

Belanger’s brother, Brian, was the cameraman and director for the films, and his sister praised his creativity and ability to bring out the story behind the story.

“November Requiem is a sad and tragic story, but it also has a story of survival and people trying to get past their grief,” Brian Belanger said. “We were fortunate to have the cooperation of Rogers City people who sat down for interviews and opened up to us.”

Belanger said making the films was hard work, and took tremendous dedication and time to complete.

“It’s almost a second full-time job,” Belanger said. “We’re really honored to have both our films at the festival and be on the panel. This is a great facility and a rare opportunity to see the films on a bigger screen.”

Both siblings said they hope to see young and old enjoying the films and festival, and they are excited to see the different films throughout the weekend.

“In the Alpena area there is this overwhelming support of the arts. It’s a cultural mecca,” Brian Belanger said. “It’s a great draw for people interested in maritime history and films.”

Deur also will be on the panel, and his film “Unsalted: A Great Lakes Experience” will be shown Saturday night.

“This film was basically my life’s mission,” Deur said. “I wanted to tell the story of how powerful the Great Lakes can be. I spend a lot of time on Lake Michigan, and I felt the lakes aren’t seen as powerful.”

The film follows Deur on a journey around the Great Lakes searching for adventure and showcases surfing on the Great Lakes.

“Surfing was my vehicle to show how powerful the lakes really are,” Deur said. “The film got some international coverage, and for me it was a source of pride for where I grew up.”

Deur said he is looking forward to the film festival and said the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center is the perfect venue for the festival and the different films.

“To have my movie shown in this venue, it’s targeted to people and a place that will understand it,” Deur said. “I love it when I get a chance to share it with people who haven’t seen it and really love the Great Lakes. I’m honored to be featured. It feels like winning an award locally. Of all the places the film has been, this one is alligned with the people I’ve wanted to see the movie since I made it. I’m very excited to be a part of the festival.”

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at ngrulke@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.