About Us

Sagebrush Hills Film Festival is dedicated to presenting an array of relevant and engaging films to the Yakima Valley community. Our mission is to inspire meaningful dialogue and transcend cultural boundaries by bringing people together through the shared experience of film.

Conception Story

Sagebrush Hills Film Festival is the long-percolating brainchild of Soo Choi. Soo was raised in Yakima and lived here most of her life, excluding a four-year stint away at New York University. After graduation, she came home and she brought something with her: an idea of how to finally overcome an obstacle that was ever present in her childhood. Growing up as the daughter of hard-working immigrants who encountered cultural and communication barriers every single day, Soo had firsthand experience with the walls that arise between different social groups…and she could never really find a way to bring those walls down. During her life in New York City she finally stumbled on a possible answer. Film. Film can transcend language barriers by portraying themes visually. Film can transcend cultural barriers by transporting a viewer into the heart and mind of an unfamiliar culture. Film can depict a universal experience, and two very different people with two very different backgrounds can both understand that experience. The concept of a film festival that would celebrate the cinematic arts while bringing together different cultural groups through a shared experience seemed both obvious and entirely daunting.

Soo enlisted (begged) her friend and co-conspirator, Clayton Bussey, to help her turn this conceptual film festival into a reality. The underlying idea beneath the festival is that if you and the person next to you watch the same thoughtful, entertaining film, you suddenly have common ground for conversation -- regardless of how different your background may appear to be. And that conversation is how communities grow and strengthen.

A discussion with the Yakima Valley Museum about film festivals made it clear that the Museum would be the perfect venue for the first of the film festivals. “Sagebrush Hills” became the festival’s name, because sagebrush embodies the Yakima Valley – it is seemingly unobtrusive from afar but completely vibrant and teeming with beauty and energy once you look closer.

After months of careful deliberation over the inaugural program, the doors of Sagebrush Hills Film Festival are open wide. Come on in. Let’s watch a movie together!

Soo Choi (aka "51%")

Soo is a high-functioning, balls to the wall, serial entrepreneur and believes the semi-colon deserves more use; thus Sagebrush Hills Film Festival came to be. These clauses are connected - trust us. Born in Queens, New York, Soo moved to Yakima as a child and always dreamt of returning to the big city she didn’t remember. When she got back to New York City, Soo realized that the place she truly needed to be was the place from which she’d started (The Alchemist anyone?). With a diploma in hand, Soo sprinted back home with a crap-ton of debt and a brain full of dreams.

Despite the photo, Soo does not actually smoke cigars and thinks scotch tastes like butt; however she likes the spherical ice balls that accompanies scotch. Fully Korean. Partially out of her mind. When she is not pulling weeds in the garden, she is most likely romping around the mountains looking for shrooms to eat.

Clayton Bussey (aka "49%")

Clayton is an invasive species to the Yakima Valley, moving here in 2011 straight outta the cornfields of Ohio. As it turns out, the Yakima Valley produces good wine and beer, so he plans to stick around for a while. He is single, socially awkward, precociously good at making dad jokes, single, always intrigued by new people and scenarios, and completely single. Community involvement is important to Clayton, so he jumped at the chance to help Soo start Sagebrush Hills Film Festival. 

When he’s not spontaneously signing up for random adventures, he can be found in his default “Off” position: immobile and slack-jawed on his couch. Ladies…did we mention he’s single?!

Let's watch a movie together!