What’s with the name?

In the late 1800s, a stretch of Bay City’s riverfront was lined with raucous saloons and two-bit hotels.

“‘Hell’s Half Mile’ was the strip of waterfront where lumberjacks used to go boozing and whoring. Now, a bunch of us from Hollywood go there for a film festival. Not much has changed.”

Rider Strong, two time guest

Time has passed, but the same rough-and-tumble spirit of the day is reborn in the Hell’s Half Mile Film & Music Festival. Today, the city boasts a beautiful downtown riverfront with boutiques, restaurants, theatres, pubs, hotels, and other points of interest…. a state of the art planetarium, art galleries, a thriving business community, and an active shipping lane for Great Lakes freighters… Downtown Bay City is alive with activity.

Mission & Objective

The Hell’s Half Mile Film & Music Festival (HHM) is the perfect mix of independent film and live indie music. Still under the radar, but we’re starting to make an impact with our guests.

Our taste is eclectic, everything from quirky comedies to hard hitting documentaries to emotional dramas. Our goal is to find “the little film that could”  a bunch of them actually and bring the filmmakers together to take over Bay City, MI. Our primary concern is community, and the filmmakers who attend our long weekend walk away with lifelong friends and future collaborators.

About the Festival

After eleven years, Hell’s Half Mile organizers continue to strive to be an innovative festival for genuinely independent films and original music. This festival is about connecting the filmmaker and the festival-goer. Period. Well, and parties too.

In addition to relentless promotion of films, Hell’s Half Mile recognizes and rewards films with jury, programmer and audience awards, some with prizes. Prizes include a cash prize of $1000 for the Grand Jury Award, as well as other valued prizes. Grand Jury Winners include the controversial “Lamb” (2015), the Icelandic “Metalhead” (2014), and the acclaimed documentary “Remote Area Medical” (2013). Past jurors include Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), Adam Busch (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Adam Schartoff (Filmwax Radio), Jasmine McGlade (Maria My Love), Joey Kern (“Super Troopers”), Geoff Marslett (Loves Her Gun), WAW Parker (Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench), Rider Strong (Cabin Fever), Leslie Raymond (Ann Arbor Film Festival), Mark Covino (A Band Called Death), Michael Dunaway (Paste Magazine), Joel Potrykus (Buzzard) and Jeff Meyers (Metro Times).

Each year we screen great narrative films, like the Midwest Premiere of Terry McMahon’s “Patrick’s Day” jury award winner for Best Feature at the 2014 Woodstock Film Festival, and winner of the Hell’s Half Mile jury award for Best Screenplay. Quirky comedies like James Westby’s “Rid of Me” and Neil LaBute’s “Dirty Weekend” have been big hits with HHM audiences. Co-director Mark Covino attended with the international hit “A Band Called Death” which won the HHM “Fest Best” award. Rider Strong has been a guest at HHM with four amazing films over the years, including “The Dungeon Master,” written and directed with his brother Shiloh and winner of the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival Best (Online) Short Film.

Some of the great music we’ve had over the years connects our film and music events. Matt Pond PA joined us at HHM in 2010. This same year, screening at the festival was “Lebanon PA,” with original score by Matt Pond and Chris Hansen of Matt Pond PA. Another great band that performed at HHM in 2011 was The One AM Radio, led by Hrishikesh Hirway who also did the original music for the 2012 feature film “Save the Date.”

HHM, a partnership with the Bay Arts Council, utilizes a unique mix of venues including Bay City’s historic Mayan themed State Theatre, the Delta College Planetarium, and a turn-of-the-century red sandstone former Masonic Temple, saved from demolition by the Bay Arts Council. Likewise, the Hell’s Half Mile programmers are looking for the right mix of creative and challenging works, including those from underserved segments of the film community, to bring to our seriously appreciative audiences. We hope you’ll consider us.