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Salem Film Fest 2017

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Gala Party Kicks Off Tenth Anniversary Of Unique Salem Film Fest

SFF 17 Candle

2017 Film Fest milestone schedule includes more than fifty documentaries and shorts, over twenty-five visiting filmmakers, Gala Party, special 10th anniversary tribute book.

Celebrating ten years of unparalleled success, Salem Film Fest 2017 (SFF) one of the nation’s leading all-documentary film festivals, will kick off on Thursday, March 2, 2017 at 7:30 pm with an impressive Gala at the historic Hawthorne Hotel in Salem. The ticketed event opens with a catered reception and will fire up with live music and dance.

Film screenings take place March 3-9 at CinemaSalem, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), and the National Park Service Visitor Center. The schedule and full breadth of the week-long events can be viewed at Attendance at this year’s screening is easily expected to surpass last year’s record setting 6,000+ viewers.

At the Gala, SFF organizers will present the inaugural Salem Film Fest Storyteller Award to David Fanning, Founder and Executive Producer at Large of PBS’ acclaimed FRONTLINE TV series. Salem Film Fest alumni filmmakers and guests from WBUR 90.9, Salem Film Fest’s official media sponsor, will be on hand to acknowledge Fanning’s contributions to documentary filmmaking. Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, State Senator Joan Lovely, and State Representative Paul Tucker are expected to attend.

Gala attendees receive a complimentary Salem Film Fest Tribute Magazine and Program, with photos, memories and highlights from the festival throughout the years. Music will be provided by the Boston-based Nephrok! Allstars, whose music spans several decades and many genres including Soul, R&B, Rock, and undoubtedly Funk.

Proceeds from the Gala will support an endowment for continuance of the all volunteer, nonprofit SFF. Tickets are available online at and at Salem Cinema and Salem Chamber of Commerce offices on Essex Street, Salem. Tickets are $55.00 if purchased by February 23 ($75 after).

Salem Film Fest concentrates on well-told stories with strong technical elements and interesting visual approaches, letting narratives unfold that wind their way through the human experience in the USA and foreign lands. Many of the films represent a US, East Coast or regional premiere. Filmmakers are expected to be present for more than half of the screenings, giving audiences a unique advantage to learn about the documentary process.

SFF 2017 offers a diverse schedule of feature length and short documentaries, parties, discussions, meet-and-greets, family-friendly screenings, student film showcases, and opportunities to meet visiting filmmakers in intimate settings.



A complete line up of films to be shown this year, accompanied by short and detailed summaries is posted at where you will also find listings for filmmaker receptions and music events.


  • Tickets and passes and for more information about Salem Film Fest 2017 visit
  • Follow Salem Film Fest on Facebook ( and Twitter (@_SalemFilmFest).
  • To secure interview with available film producers/directors, please contact


  • FOREVER PURE – A Russian-Israeli billionaire unleashes a racist campaign by some of the team’s extremist fans when he hires two Muslim players from Chechnya to join the only Premier League Israeli football team never to sign an Arab player.
  • AFTER SPRING – Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan has been the “temporary” home of 80,000 Syrians since 2012. Meet two families who long for a permanent home as they contemplate an uncertain future.
  • FIRST LADY OF THE REVOLUTION – The remarkable story of Henrietta Boggs, an Alabama Southern belle who takes a life-altering journey through marriage, civil war and audacious democratic reforms to become the First Lady of Costa Rica.
  • THE PEACEMAKER – In the heart of the world’s most intractable conflicts, Cambridge, MA resident Padraig O’Malley tries to broker peace using the unorthodox methods and dogged determination he discovered while battling his own addictions.
  • LEAGUE OF EXOTIQUE DANCERS – Eight unforgettable Burlesque Hall of Fame inductees share the good, the bad and the ugly about the golden age of stripping with bawdy good humor and moving insight.


  • One of largest all-documentary film festivals in the U.S.
  • Two-thirds of filmmakers to attend and engage in post-screening dialogue
  • Unique financial model in which rather than pay submission fees, filmmakers are paid a screening commission sponsored by a business, individual, or organization from the regional community
  • Founded and organized each year by an all-volunteer organization of passionate documentary lovers

Each film provides an opportunity to immerse oneself in the encounters of others in a dramatic and sensory way, embarking upon what is different and recognizing what is common to us all. “The world is an amazing place,” is an oft worn but timely phrase. Salem Film Fest affirms that travel quote for your eyes and ears to behold. And some films may strike that ‘responsive chord’ that can change your life forever.


Salem Film Fest was founded in 2008 by filmmaker Joe Cultrera (HAND OF GOD), local businessman Paul Van Ness (CinemaSalem, Van Ness Creative), Executive Director of the Salem Chamber of Commerce Rinus Oosthoek and others from the community. Run and operated entirely by volunteers, the week-long festival has become a community-wide event with screenings at CinemaSalem, the Peabody Essex Museum and the National Park Service Salem Visitor Center with filmmaker parties and music events held at venues throughout downtown. Fueled by great films, dedicated volunteers and enthusiastic audiences, festival attendance has grown 15 to 25 percent each year.



The “Salem Film Fest” must be referred to as “Salem Film Fest,” “SFF 2016,” or “Salem Film Fest 2016.”  When naming the event, please use the word “fest” instead of “festival,” they are not interchangeable.
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Examples of incorrect usage:  “the Salem Film Fest,”  “Salem Film Festival,” or “SalemFilmFest”