For Tyler Dooghan, director of the documentary “Break the Record, Break the Stigma”, the upcoming West Sound Film Festival is a deeply personal homecoming.
His film, shot over six days, follows three ultrarunners and their experiences with mental health. One of the runners featured in the film – the Tabatha Collins, Guinness World Record Holder from Bremerton – is Dooghan’s mother. Dooghan grew up in Kitsap County and remembers taking a television production course at Bremerton High School. Dooghan sat down with runners and hit trails across Washington State, where they shared personal and traumatic experiences from their lives. But Dooghan was very focused on Collins’ journey.
“I knew my mom was going to try to set this Guinness World Record, and I knew I wanted to do something about it and I wanted to tell this story because she was doing it to raise awareness for mental health,” said Dooghan.
Dooghan expects many friends and family members to attend the festival. Of all the places he has submitted his documentary to, he says the West Sound Film Festival’s Bremerton roots mean something special to him.
“No matter where I go, it’s my home. And that’s who I am. It made me who I am today,” he said.
“Break the Record, Break the Stigma” is one of 69 films that will screen during the next Western Sound Film Festivalwhich returns to both the Roxy Theater and SEEfilm Cinema in Bremerton from Friday to Sunday.
Films from across the country and around the world are featured at this year’s festival, with entries from Sweden, Germany, Ukraine, Iran and France, among others.
Now in its seventh year, the festival includes films spanning all sorts of genres – horror, drama, documentary, experimental films and music videos.
“We have a bit of everything, I would say something for everyone,” said festival director Amy Camp.
The festival started in 2016 as the Port Orchard Film Festival, and after a online festival in 2020 and one return to in-person visits in 2021Camp says coming together to celebrate the art of filmmaking is always important.
“When you sit down and watch a movie with other people, it’s a shared experience. You have just experienced something in a group. And I think it’s a totally different feeling than watching something alone,” Camp said.
In preparation for the festival, Camp looks at every film submission. Of the films accepted, Camp has watched each at least three times.
One such film is the Kelly Hughes music video “The Fingers”, which features a performance of The Electric Kühl-Aid Party at Bremerton’s Bay Theater in the old Bay Bowl building on Wheaton Way.
Hughes, who has been making films for more than 30 years in the area, learned of the theater’s closure and felt that filming a musical performance might be the perfect way to send the local venue.
“If this is going to be the last thing in theater, I thought a musical performance was the most appropriate thing,” Hughes said.
The video, filmed in a single day, begins with a shot of the graffiti-covered walls and desolate entrance to the Bay Theatre. As the band begins to play in the old cinema space, the word “Bremerton” slips across the screen. Inside the theater, as the music intensifies, zombies appear from other parts of the building.
“This theater is dormant, practically condemned, and when the band plays it’s almost like summoning the ghosts of the theater,” Hughes said.
Camp says the price of admission to the festival is low to ensure that all kinds of films are part of the screenings. This year line up includes documentaries like “SOLDIER”, which tells veterans with trauma and PTSD; “Stolen Dirt, Fresh Air”, about underground BMX communities; and other horror films, music videos and experimental pieces. The festival is currently looking for volunteers to frame the projections.
Many films from the West Sound Film Festival won’t be screened elsewhere, Camp says.
“So to sit down and look at the world through someone else’s eyes, that you might not be able to see that perspective or that point of view any other way,” Camp said. “I think it’s a really important experience.”