Festival Overview: Opening the Lens on the 11th Annual Hells Half Mile Film & Music Festival

    icon Sep 01, 2016
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2016 marks the 11th Anniversary for Bay City’s annual Hells Half Mile Film & Music Festival, which thanks to the dedicated vision of its organizers, has successfully delivered a divergent array of cutting edge independent films & music throughout Bay City for a four-day artistic excursion that stands out from the predictable fodder of mainstream Hollywood by showcasing the work of innovative directors making movies carrying substance, weight, merit, and meaning.

This year the 11th Annual HHM Film Festival will run from September 22nd - 25 and screen 19 phenomenal feature length films and over 20 fantastic short films.  According to Festival Director and co-founder, Alan LaFave, over 20,000 attendees have frequented the HHM Fest over the past 10 years, watching independent films, listening to amazing indie bands, and attending social events, workshops, and panels.

“Hells Half Mile is another layer that has made our community a more interesting place to live,” notes LaFave.  “One of my personal goals when starting the festival was to prove that you can break from the norm and do something a bit more progressive in a city as small as Bay City. We had to go slowly to find our audience, but we found them and more and more of them are finding us. My hope has always been that the festival inspires other people to create something new for our community, something they’re passionate about.”

“It’s pretty satisfying to see how many people come each year to the festival, both first-timers and returning festival-goers. It really makes me proud of what our team has accomplished when people tell me it’s their favorite weekend of the entire year. When we conceived of the idea I’m not sure we knew what to expect. We were just happy we pulled it together and that people came out to it. Over the years we’ve been able to fine-tune the festival and our expectations. As proud as I am of what we’ve accomplished, I think Hell’s Half Mile still has much more potential than has been realized.”

Here are some highlights of this year’s Festival:


The Hell’s Half Mile “Half Mile” Race is Back!

It’s a half mile run in Downtown Bay City right on Water Street, which was the location of the infamous “Hell’s Half Mile”, our namesake. It probably sounds ludicrous to have just a half-mile race, but it pretty much goes with the festival’s personality.

It starts at 10 am on Sunday morning, September 25th and ends at the intersection of Water Street and Center Avenue. Prizes will be awarded. There’s a $10 entry fee, which gets you your race bibs, your 0.5-mile sticker, a film voucher and a drink ticket.

The drink ticket can be immediately redeemed at Tavern 101 for your choice of a selection of beers, mimosa or Bloody Mary. Sounds like a great way to start a Sunday. Plus, you’re already downtown so you can catch a movie!”



Bay City’s own Betsy Brandt stars in “Claire In Motion” at Hell’s Half Mile. This affecting drama is co-directed by Annie Howell and Lisa Robinson. Brandt, a 1991 graduate of Western High School is known for her roles in “Breaking Bad”, “The Michael J. Fox Show”, “Masters of Sex” and is currently on the CBS comedy “Life in Pieces”.

From 2008 to 2013, Brandt portrayed Marie Schrader in the AMC hit drama series Breaking Bad, widely regarded as one of the greatest television series of all time.

Synopsis:  When Claire’s husband Paul takes a routine hike in a routine forest and doesn’t return, she’s faced with a more troubling conundrum: do even our closest loved ones exist when we don’t see them? Paul’s disappearance reveals a world of his that Claire never knew, much of it centered on a charismatic young artist named Alison. As Claire and her pre-teen son Connor seek clues to Paul’s whereabouts, the mystery of what became of him is overtaken by that of who he was. 

“Claire in Motion” is nominated for two jury awards at Hell’s Half Mile, including Best Actress (Betsy Brandt) and Best Supporting Actress (Anna Margaret Hollyman) and screens once on Saturday, 9/24 at 8:30 pm at the State Theatre.


Festival Pass & Ticket Information

For ticket information, passes, and detailed film schedules & locations of all events please visit www.hellshalfmile.com.

All Access Passes • $50 until Sept. 18th, includes access to all films, Friday music at the Empire Ballroom, Saturday music at Masonic Temple, Opening Night Reception, Friday Filmmaker Reception, and the Saturday Festival Happy Hour and Crowdfunding Rally.  All Access Pass cost increases to $60 on Sept. 19th.

Film Passes • $25 until Sept. 18th, includes access to all films at all locations. Film Pass cost increases to $35 on Sept. 19th.

Friday Music • $8 (21 and over only). Located at The Empire Ballroom, corner of Washington and First St. 10:00pm start time. 

Saturday Music •  $15 (all ages). Located at the Masonic Temple, corner of Madison and Sixth St. 9:00pm start time.

Film venues include the State Theatre (913 Washington Ave.), Delta College Planetarium (100 Center Ave.) and the Historic Masonic Temple (700 N. Madison).

Visit www.hellshalfmile.com for complete info and updates.

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