Script coming together for Freeland Film Festival

Event Coordinator Evelyn Galster shows off her Freeland Film Festival director’s chair in front of the future festival headquarters: Town Square. Reagan Zimmerman photo

by Reagan Zimmerman

Green Lake has a population of 952.

The world has a population of 7.5 billion.

Little Green Lake hopes to make a big difference in the world by hosting its first ever global film festival.

Steve Galster, the Freeland Film Festival director, wanted to raise awareness for influential environmental and human issues. He also is the founder and director of Freeland, a global company based in Bangkok, Thailand that is focused on stopping human and animal trafficking.

The Green Lake branch of Freeland opened up around a year and a half ago and is run by Steve’s sister, Evelyn Galster.

Evelyn had just called it a career from her position at an insurance company when her brother came to her with an offer.

“I had just retired and he asked me what I thought about working for him,” Evelyn said. “I told him no because I didn’t want to move to Bangkok, but he suggested the option of opening an office here in Green Lake. I really liked the idea of having a U.S.-based office and why not have it here in Green Lake.”

One of the first initiatives Steve suggested for the Green Lake office was to create a local film festival focusing on stories that inspire.

The types of films will range from documentaries, feature length films and shorts.

They are looking for films that are not only relevant globally, but locally as well.

What does human and animal trafficking have to do with Green Lake?

“We aren’t just thinking about Asia when it comes to this topic because it all connects with conservation, wildlife and ecosystems.

The foundation collaborated with the Green Lake Conservancy and Green Lake Association to make its event relevant to the local area.

Evelyn’s insurance background hadn’t prepared her for organizing a film festival. So she hired an executive producer, Dawn Borchardt from Salt Lake City, who has worked with Sundance Film Festival in the past.

With Borchardt’s help, Evelyn became the event coordinator. The two began their planning process.

The process has taken a little under a year so far and there still is a year before the event.

The festival is scheduled for June 15 to 17, 2018.

Evelyn explained some things are set in stone for the event but others aren’t, including the schedule, awards and ticket cost.

“The night of June 15 will be our big kickoff night with the biggest movie we have at our festival,” Evelyn said. “It will be shown at Thrasher Opera House and after the showing, there will be a party at the American Legion.”

The remaining schedule is not completely set because the festival still is receiving film submissions.

From those submissions, Evelyn hopes they can award the winning film with a trip to Thailand for the Malaysian Film Festival.

Ticket prices have not been solidified but Evelyn knows they will be lower because the foundation is focusing on getting people to the venues in Green Lake more than profit.

Locations for film screenings include a few of Green Lake’s special venues: Town Square, Caestecker Library, the American Legion and the Thrasher Opera House.

“Green Lake was the perfect place for the festival because of its variety of unique venues and its charming small-town atmosphere,” Evelyn said.

She believes the town, residents and visitors will be aided from the festival.

“Everyone is benefiting from this,” Evelyn said. “The city is getting visitors, businesses are getting customers, the festival is getting experience and the people attending are learning.”

Evelyn hopes individuals who attend one of the films will walk away having learned something they didn’t know before because films are a special way to discover the world.

“You can sit in front of somebody and listen to them talk, but your mind will wander. Well, people like to learn from stories, so getting to see a film helps people learn something new through the stories being told,” she said.

People will get the chance to learn from keynote speakers during set times as well as listen to music as they browse vendors at the festival.

If parents are interested in having child care while they attend a film, it will be provided at Caestecker Library.

“We want to have something for everyone because the parents might want to see a film that is on animal or human trafficking, which can be graphic; they won’t want to bring the kids,” Evelyn said. “The kids can be dropped off at the library, where they can watch a kid-friendly film while the parents watch their own. It will be set up so the whole family can enjoy it.”

Those interested in learning more about the festival may attend an information presentation Friday, Aug. 25 at 6 p.m. at Town Square.

For those who can’t make it to the program, more information may be found at