Saturday, May 18, 2024

From DVDs to digital: Idaho Panhandle Film Festival returns

Staff Writer | April 16, 2024 1:06 AM

WALLACE — In the early 2000s, Mary Lou Hanks seized upon the idea of hosting a film festival in the Silver Valley. She enlisted her daughter, Nancy Hanks, to come back from Los Angeles and screen films for locals.

“I had a DVD player at the time,” Hanks recalled.

The management of the festival first rested squarely on Nancy’s shoulders before her mother convinced other locals with an interest in furthering the reach of local films, but the event fizzled out after three years in 2006.

“It’s hard to do, it’s a lot of work,” Hanks said.

Hanks was born in Coeur d’Alene and was ecstatic to return after a long time spent in California.

“You can only live in L.A. for so long,” Hanks said.

Nearly two decades after the Idaho Panhandle Film Festival was retired, Nancy Hanks decided the time was right to bring it back.

“It’s not a new thing, but it’s a revival,” she said.

The family-friendly short film festival will host a gathering of industry professionals and film lovers in Wallace from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Wallace Elks Lodge, 419 Cedar St. The daylong event is intended to serve as a platform for emerging talent and unique storytelling.

“We’re trying to keep it local and small. This isn’t some Hollywood big deal, this is to show the beauty and talent here,” Hanks said.

The festival will include a tribute to Mary Lou Hanks.

Locally made narratives, documentaries and student works will kick off the festival, followed by regionally made films. 

Short films from New Zealand, Switzerland, France, Morocco and Mexico will close out the event.

“Portal to the Clockworld,” “Semiphore Sam — The Ninth Portal” and “The Last Witch” were ventures that had students and locals get into amateur filmmaking and set on Bank Street which Hanks created about 10 or 11 years ago. 

The first day of shooting was pouring rain and Hanks was worried the cold and damp conditions would sour the students on the process, but “we finally got the shot, and they all came back the next day,” Hanks said.

The films were a vehicle to introduce the students to filmmaking and how the process works and she’s brought them out to share during the first portion of the festival. 

She’s excited for them to get to see the reactions of the audience for their work.

“I think they learned a lot about film production and how a storyboard works. It’s funny to see them 10 years later.” Hanks asked.

She tried to keep the films to about 10 minutes, but some longer shorts made the cut because Hanks felt the stories were compelling.

“We’re trying to inspire people to make films,” Hanks said. “We all live by stories, so we’d like to inspire more people to make their stories.”

Short local films with students:
10 a.m. to noon

“Portal to the Clockworld”

“Semiphore Sam — The Ninth Portal” 

“The Last Witch”


"McGuffin 2: Hard to be a Hero"

Preview for "Dimensions III," coming soon to Wallace.

Tribute to Mary Lou Hanks.

Local/regional short films:
1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

“Dante’s Wallace”

“Secret World of Wildfire”


“Fire Flower”


“America Haute Couture”

“Lavender Space”



“The Message”

“The Hardest Part”

“Come Back With Me”

International films
5 to 7 p.m.

The Netherlands
"The Path of the Greys"

A pupil in the Star Wars universe is subjected to a physical and mental test.

New Zealand
"Nice Thievage"

Joselle is long on working hours and short on money. One night, on the way home from work, she encounters something that will change her life.

United States
"Dream Farm"

One man’s quest to find his own dream.

"The Great Pyramid and More"

A self-described Egyptologist guides a group through the Giza Plateau.

United States
"The Smell of a Ghost"

After reading a ghost hunter’s account of his true life encounters Emmet follows the author’s unique advice to rid his home of a spirit.

"Who is God?"

This project was created entirely with artificial intelligence.

"Silent Descent"

After finding himself lost and stranded in the middle of nowhere, a man needs to confront his inner demons.

"Silent Sighs"

The film takes place in a working-class neighborhood near the Mediterranean Sea, where Younis, who has autism, lives with his father, the fisherman, Idris.


Follow the insect’s tenacity as it navigates its dangerous realm teeming with challenges and predators.

"The Forest of Souls"

Mathilde is a young acoustician looking for a way to find souls of the departed.

If you go

For a complete list of film titles, visit or

    "Fire Flower" by local filmmaker, Misty Shipman follows Ruby, a young woman who is forced into a hastily arranged marriage with a religious sect leader.
    "Silent Sighs," a short film from Morocco follows the story of Younis, who has autism and lives with his father in a working-class neighborhood near the Mediterranean Sea.