Calling all cinephiles: Film fest teams with Vashon Theatre

A new partnership is blooming between Vashon Theatre and the Vashon Film Institute.

Just in time for warm weather and long summer nights, a new partnership is blooming between Vashon Theatre and the Vashon Film Institute (VFI) — the nonprofit responsible for the annual Vashon Island Film Festival.

The independent film festival, now in its third year of presenting award-winning independent films on the international film festival circuit, will run from Aug. 8-11 at the theater this year. But all summer long and into the future, VFI will support and sustain the beloved historic movie house in a variety of ways, said its president, Mark Sayre.

Volunteer corps

VFI is now helping to recruit a community corps of film-loving volunteers to help staff Vashon’s beloved single-screen cinema — a program based on highly successful efforts to involve the community in this way at independent cinemas including Tacoma’s Grand Theater, Bellingham’s Pickford Theater, and Northwest Film Forum, in Seattle.

These volunteers will fill multiple roles at the theater — as box office workers, concessions attendants, and “theater ambassadors” who will do everything from introducing film screenings to helping to sweep up popcorn after the show. Gardeners who can help beautify the theater’s grounds are also welcome, said theater owner Eileen Wolcott.

Wolcott said that she’s looking forward to working with VFI as well as a newly formed Vashon Theatre Foundation, to “smooth out the rough edges and provide fantastic community events.”

“This is the way,” Wolcott said — describing how nonprofits and community partnerships can ensure the theater’s viability and presence in the community for years to come.

“We’ve had this sort of relationship with other nonprofits, like Island Greentech, which helped raise funds to buy an extremely expensive projection system in 2012,” she said.

Interested in volunteering? Contact coordinator Michelle Johnson ( and copy to get more information.

First Friday markets

VFI has also announced it will present free open-air night markets — a program dubbed NTMRKT — during this year’s celebration of Vashon Summer Nights.

Summer Nights is a Vashon Chamber of Commerce effort that turns Vashon Highway, in the town’s center, into a pedestrian-only zone on the First Friday of every month, from 5-9 p.m.

VFI’s night markets — featuring local vendors selling art, antiques, vintage goods, collectibles, and other products — will take place in Vashon Theatre’s new Backlot space, which comes complete with a beer and wine garden, a giant screen where silent films can be projected, and plenty of space to dance the night away to sets from local deejays.

Sayre, of VFI, envisions the markets as a joyous place to gather — a win-win for merchants, film lovers, and the broader community.

“Our goal is to expand VFI’s presence beyond the Vashon Island Film Festival, both on the island and in and around the greater Pacific Northwest,” says Sayre. “At NTMRKT, we look forward to introducing the community to local artists and vendors during its cherished First Fridays. And to host it at the Backlot at the Vashon Theatre is an exciting opportunity and a space where we hope to be coordinating events for years to come.”

Vendor applications for NTMRKT will typically open three weeks before each event, and close the week prior (or once all space is reserved, whichever is soonest). Applications for the inaugural event on July 5 are now open here.

Vendors are encouraged to apply quickly as reservations are secured on a first-come, first-serve basis.

To find out more and purchase advance passes to Vashon Island Film Festival, visit To check what’s playing now and coming up soon at Vashon Theatre, visit