'Muscle Shoals' to Debut at Homer Documentary Film Fest

     The Homer Documentary Film Festival is back and bigger than ever. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the festival is breaking new ground, including its first-ever international premier. 

     Jamie Sutton is the owner of the Homer Theatre and along with his wife, the curator for the annual Homer Documentary Film Festival. Sutton says that this year, the Homer Doc Fest will feature the worldwide premier of "Muscle Shoals," a look at a small Alabama music studio with a rich history.

     "It's a great doc about lots of different people that end up coming into this small studio," says Sutton.

     Sutton hopes to have a videotaped introduction from the filmmakers before “Muscle Shoals” screens at Thursday night’s gala, which will also feature a barbecue dinner and various guest speakers.

     He says the 10 films featured at this year’s festival should bring a little something for everyone. For fans of extreme sports, there’s “Where the Trail Ends,” a close-up look at globetrotting downhill mountain bikers who are constantly in search of the gnarliest terrain, and “The Crash Reel,” a profile of snowboarder Kevin Pearce, who was severely injured before the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.

     Another film, “The Trials of Muhammad Ali,” examines issues of race, religion and war through the lens of its title character. 

     Or, if hard-hitting exposes are your thing, you’ll want to see “Blackfish,” an in-depth look at the capture and treatment of orca whales that are destined for the world’s aquatic theme parks.

     Audiences will also be treated to a talk and slideshow presentation about orca whales in Alaska, courtesy of Homer resident, author and orca expert Craig Matkin.

     While some of the doc fest’s films take you to faraway places – like “One Track Heart,” the story of yoga chant-master Krishna Das – others hit closer to home, like the 20-minute feature “The Old Believers.”

     "It's a historical study of how the Russians ended up here and what is the nature of their culture," says Sutton. "And how challenging it is to preserve that culture.

      “The Old Believers” was shot in Homer by University of California graduate student Ryan Locklin. It will air during Thursday’s gala and before every 8:00 p.m. feature throughout the festival.

      Sutton says the film festival has grown from four featured films to ten over the last ten years. He’s been pleased to see the audience in Homer grow with it, as well.

     The Homer Documentary Film Festival begins Thursday night. Showtimes are at 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. each day of the week-long festival. General admission tickets are $8 dollars for adults but a festival pass can be had for $50.