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Hell's Half Mile Festival 6 Years Strong

September 29, through October 2, 2011 in Bay City, Michigan.

September 18, 2011       Leave a Comment
By: Julie McCallum, Entertainment Editor

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Fans of independent film and music are invited to attend the sixth annual Hell's Half Mile Film & Music Festival, which runs from September 29, through October 2, 2011 in Bay City, Michigan. Hell's Half Mile Festival is 6 Years Strong with 80's Indie Rock Gods, 90's TV Heartthrob & 1,000's of film-goers.

In just five years, Hell's Half Mile has become a major annual event for lovers of film and music, drawing over 7,000 attendees to downtown Bay City to take in fine films and related events. HHM attendees include cinephiles. college students looking for edgy entertainment and substance-seeking Michigan citizens craving a great entertainment experience outside the mainstream.

Hell's Half Mile kicks off with its opening night street party on Thursday, September 29, 2011 in downtown Bay City (on Washington Avenue in front of the State Theatre). The street party includes live, original music by two local bands. The headliner is An American Underdog (fronted by Andy Reed, also a member of the Verve Pipe) with local favorite Vince Dynamic opening the show.

The street party includes a beer tent featuring Michigan Microbrews, and food from several local restaurants. Throughout the evening, there will also be interviews with many of the cast and crew members of the films showing at this year's fest. The street party is open to the public.

In addition to the opening night party, the festival includes two exclusive social events on Friday and Saturday evening. First up is the HHM Friday Night Happy Hour at Studio 23 followed the next night by the Filmmaker Reception, held at the former Masonic Temple Club prior to Saturday night's live music event. These events are open to All Access pass holders, sponsors and filmmakers only, visit to purchase your All Access pass.

HHM's film lineup for 2012 is highlighted by Color Me Obsessed, director Gorman Bechard's documentary about 80's "indie rock gods" The Replacements. Hailed as "one of the top 7 best music docs of the year" by Rolling Stone magazine, Color Me Obsessed has been screening to sold out audiences at film festivals around the country and will make its Michigan Premier at Hell's Half Mile.

Bechard is no stranger to Hell's Half Mile and Bay City. In 2009, his film Friends (with Benefits) won the audience choice "Fest Best" award. Bechard also plans to shoot scenes for his next narrative feature film while in Bay City. Anyone interested in watching the film shoot and attending a short workshop on the making of this film are welcome and can find more information at

Also attending this year is 90's TV sitcom star Rider Strong, from the ABC hit Boy Meets World. Strong will be joined by his brother, Shiloh, and producer Alexandra Barreto. The Strong brothers will be screening three of their co-directed short films at Hell's Half Mile, including two short films that were 'official selections' at the Tribeca Film Festival, where festival director Alan LaFave met the talented trio.

"Audiences are going to have fun meeting Rider, Shiloh and Alex and they're going to love their films," says LaFave. "Each short is completely different from the other. Dungeon Master is totally fun with an amazing twist. Irish Twins is completely engaging, while Method is a sly, dark-comedy that pokes fun at acting." The Strong brothers short film program also features a Michigan-made film called Mr. Pleasant, in addition to another short co-directed and written by actor Matthew Modine.

In addition to a strong slate of films, HHM is a music festival featuring live performances from indie bands hailing from coast to coast. Headlining the music for the 2011 Festival will be Los Angeles synth-pop band, The One AM Radio. Amazon describes their latest album as "a dance record for introverts, the soundtrack to getting lost in a city. Full of irresistibly catchy pop hooks, melancholy lyrics, and pulsing electronics."

Also performing is Brooklyn-ite, Leslie Sisson, lead guitarist and vocalist for The Wooden Birds and sometime member of the HHM 2010 headliner Matt Pond PA. Rounding out the Saturday night line-up is Flint's Empty Orchestra and Bay City's own The Crooked Trees. Bands and audiences enjoy a first-rate performance space at the historic Bay City Masonic Temple, which has fast become known as the most atmospheric and acoustically rich music venue in our region.

HHM offers attendees unique venues to screen films, including the State Theater, the Delta College Planetarium and the former Masonic Temple Club. The festival screens feature films, short films, and documentaries in both short and feature categories. Many films are handpicked from major festivals including the Traverse City and Tribeca Film Festivals, while other submissions come in from around the world, including a number of homegrown, Michigan filmmakers. HHM also gives attendees great access to filmmakers. Many screenings include panel discussions with filmmakers which brings about lively conversation.

In addition, participating filmmakers hold workshops on subjects ranging from screenwriting to cinematography. "For many people, the highlight of the festival is getting the chance to attend a screening and then hang around for the panel discussions with the filmmakers," says LaFave. "It gives people a chance to ask questions and get a glimpse of what goes into making a feature film." HHM offers an array of film and music unlike any other festival and the sixth year promises to be better than ever. For more information on the Festival, including the complete listing of films and schedules, please visit

The festival's name refers to Bay City's history, specifically to a strip of raucous saloons and two-bit hotels' known as Hell's Half Mile - where turn-of-the-century loggers and shipmen would go to blow off steam and take in more than a little local color. Time has passed but the same rough-and-tumble spirit of the day is reborn in the Hell's Half Mile Film & Music Festival.

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