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gig harbor film festival guide

A Guide to the Gig Harbor Film Festival

The Gig Harbor Film Festival is a must-see event. After a pandemic intermission, we are back in full swing for this year’s event, taking place September 22-25, 2022. Our world-class festival features more than 100 independent and arthouse films at the IMAX theatres.

Don’t miss showings of narrative, documentaries, animated, and foreign films. In addition to fantastic cinema, you can enjoy VIP and filmmaker parties, special events, a VIP lounge, and question-and-answer sessions with directors. You won’t want to miss a minute from the opening day film to the closing day awards.

Check below for ticketing information, and grab them before they’re gone! Keep reading for all the must-know event information about this year’s event. 

Gig Harbor Film Festival History

Beginning with its first festival in 2007, the Gig Harbor Film Festival has grown to host over 80 filmmakers, showing more than 100 films, and hosting an audience exceeding 4,000 film enthusiasts.

This 501(c)(3) non-profit organization maintains its mission to cultivate a community celebrating the power of cinematic arts to inspire, entertain, and educate. This year-round program culminates with a destination film festival that filmmakers, film buffs, and the local community recognize as a top-tier event.

If you’ve never been to Gig Harbor, you will love this maritime village tucked away in Puget Sound. Gig Harbor is the perfect location to relax while getting in four days of viewing at the film festival.

Opening Night Film

This year’s festival program starts with the opening night movie The Ventures: Stars on Guitars, directed by Staci Layne Wilson. This 96-minute documentary film highlights the world’s #1 instrumental surf-rock group.

Their hits include “Walk, Don’t Run,” “Tequilla,” “Whip Out,” and the theme song for “Hawaii Five-O.” The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

You will learn the story of their rise to fame from the 1960s to now. Playing the best guitar rock of all time is how they have made it to their 61st anniversary.

The film festival is honoring the legacy of the late Don Wilson, co-founder of The Ventures. Don passed away at the age of 88 on January 24, 2022.

The Venturers: Stars on Guitars is showing on Thursday, September 22nd; the start time is 6:30 pm on IMAX. If you miss this showing, you can catch it on Friday, September 23rd, at 4:30 pm.

Opening Night Party

This year’s opening party at Fondi Pizzeria begins at 8:30 pm. Hang out with fellow filmgoers, Ventures fans, and filmmakers.

We will serve light appetizers, finger foods, wine, beer, and cocktails. Fondi’s new multi-season outdoor dining patio is the perfect place to kick back and relax.

Don’t go home yet, because you won’t want to miss the exclusive after-party party for VIPs and filmmakers. Starting at 10:00 pm, come on down to Dunagan’s, where you can quench your thirst with the vast selection on their whiskey and tap lists.

If your ticket doesn’t include opening night parties, you don’t need to go hungry. In the Gig Harbor plaza, you will find everything you need to tempt your pallet between films.

You can grab a quick treat at Ben & Jerry’s, an energy boost at Cutter’s Point Coffee, or select from a variety of eateries with everything from gourmet burgers to Mexican, Vietnamese and more.


Justin Zimmerman of Bricker-Down Productions is bringing the main character of his documentary, Daniel King, to the film festival. Daniel King is a father of five, a firefighter, a SWAT trainer, and an armored combat enthusiast. If that isn’t enough to wear you out, Daniel also has ten years of combat, security, rescue, and recovery experience in Iraq and is a former military sniper.

Soldier incorporates 50 hours of footage and ten hours of interviews into what is bound to become a film festival sensation. Over the past nine years, Daniel has lost eleven of his closest friends to suicide and has a list of 100 people who are no longer with us. Daniel also came close to succumbing to PTSD. 

Watch the official trailer, and then come to the film festival to see the documentary. Soldier is part of the Documentary Shorts Vol. 2, being shown Friday, September 23rd at 11:50 am and Saturday, September 24th at 2:25 pm.

Two Films by Local Gig Harbor Director

700 Feet Down is a documentary that provides a rare look at Galloping Gertie 80 years after its collapse. On November 7, 1940, at about 11:00 am, high winds took the Tacoma Narrows Bridge 700 feet down into Puget Sound. It had only been open for four months. 

Producer, Peter Bortel, is an avid deep diver who has been exploring the area around the bridge for about 30 years. Teaming up with director Carly Vester, the two provide a new look at the tragedy and what is below the water with the Galloping Gertie. 

There are dangerous currents under the bridge, and massive concrete blocks create a maze below the water. Only through the determination of divers who put aside fears can you experience their discoveries.

Don’t miss watching 700 Feet Down at 11:35 am on Friday, September 23rd, or at 2:20 pm Saturday, September 24th.

Stand Up, produced by Peter Bortel and directed by Carly Vester, is a documentary about two women who use water sports to push back against female marginalization. It is the story of two athletic moms who navigate their way on stand-up paddle boards through a 70-mile race. They complete this high-endurance challenge in 48 hours with the hope of raising awareness and empowering women.

This 60-minute film is showing Friday, September 23rd at 1:00 pm and Saturday, September 24th at 1:35 pm.  

Gig Harbor Film Festival Parties

In addition to the opening night parties, the festival is full of opportunities to meet and greet your fellow filmgoers and filmmakers.

Meet the Filmmakers Party takes place on Friday, September 23rd, from 5-9 pm. Peter and Liz Morkill host this gathering at their waterfront home in Gig Harbor.

Open to VIPs and filmmakers only, this is the perfect opportunity to meet those who create phenomenal films. The evening will fill you with warm camaraderie while you enjoy refreshments, appetizers, and breathtaking sunsets. Don’t miss the fun!

The Kiwanis Club of Gil Harbor is sponsoring Grill & Chill on Friday, September 24th, from 5:30 to 8:00 pm. Taking place outside the Galaxy Theatres under a covered pavilion, attendees will enjoy Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches, chips, and beverages courtesy of the Kiwanis Club. You won’t want to miss this social event, which is open only to VIPs and filmmakers.

It’s A Wrap Mimosa Breakfast and Awards Ceremony brings our four-day festival to an end. The event begins on Sunday, September 25th, at 9:00 am in the Imax Theatre lobby.

After partaking in a light breakfast, watch the awards presentation in numerous categories starting at 9:45 am. If you miss the original showing of the Director’s Choice winners, courtesy showings will take place at 11:15 am and 1:45 pm.

Filmgoer Ticket Options

You can choose whether to purchase general admission tickets or a VIP pass. Check the festival schedule online so you don’t miss a moment of fun.

General admission tickets are available now at the Uptown Galaxy Theatres for $40. Your paid admission gets you a collectible 2022 GHFF embossed wristband.

With your wristband, you can enter the opening night festival films, each shown twice during the 4-day event. Seating with this admission is first-come, first-serve.

Your VIP pass grants you access to all films, parties, and events taking place during the event. You receive priority seating when you arrive 15 minutes before showtimes. Between films, relax and grab a snack in the VIP lounge.

VIP holders enjoy opening night afterparties, a filmmaker’s party at the Morkill estate, a Saturday Grill and Chili dinner, and a Sunday mimosa breakfast before the awards ceremony. The benefits of this $300 pass can’t be beaten.

Unfortunately, the 2022 VIP passes are sold out. If you are interested in purchasing a pass for the 2023 festival, let us know, and we’ll put you on the list. In the meantime, enjoy this year’s festival with a general admission wristband.

Getting to the Gig Harbor Film Festival

Pierce Transit has convenient bus schedules, including a summer trolley that gets you to Uptown and the waterfront.

Rates are only $2.00 per adult or $1.00 for those under 18. You can even sign up to receive route updates, rider alerts, and other news on your phone.

You can also contact alternative transportation services, including Gig Harbor Taxi, the Around the Sound Shuttle Vans, and A Blessing to Serve Taxi. 

Check our website for easy driving directions from Seattle, Bremerton, and Olympia. Our step-by-step instructions will get you here in no time.

We have an EV charging station in the north parking lot to keep our patrons on a roll. ChargePoint stations are the world’s largest network of independently owned charging stations. Drivers can locate, reserve, and navigate unoccupied stations using iPhone and Android applications.

Our EV station parking is available for $1.00 per hour for up to four hours or $2.00 after four hours. The minimum charge is $1.00.

For Your Viewing Pleasure

Don’t miss out on one of the best film festivals in the world. Grab your tickets now, review the festival information online, and head out for four days of great film-watching.

While you are here, visit the many retailers of Gig Harbor. Enjoy national retailers, fine dining, and an ever-changing calendar of special events, including the Gig Harbor Film Festival.


Uptown Gig Harbor

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