Archive for September, 2008

Final note

September 22, 2008

I just caught this story about Henry Steinway, the great-grandson of the founder of the Steinway piano empire. For those of you who caught Note By Note at NWFF this past February, the eulogy will resonate.

Remembering Henry Steinway

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Morning Edition, September 19, 2008 · Henry Z. Steinway, the great-grandson of the founder of the legendary piano-making company, died Thursday in New York. He was 93. He was the last of his family to run the company that was started in 1853. The company was sold to CBS Corp. in 1977. Steve Inskeep has this remembrance.

Local Sightings schedule online!

September 20, 2008

The 11th Annual Local Sightings Film Festival program is now online at www.localsightings.org.  Peruse all the truly impressive Northwest work on display for the week-long event.  What better way to spend your rainy Saturday or Sunday than marking your calendar with fantastic documentaries, short films, and special happenings to look forward to October 3-8, made by people you recognize and are sure to hear more from?

And, of course, don’t forget to come kick the whole thing off on Friday, October 3 with a great program of short films and a wild and woolly party to follow.

See you in the cinemas!

Keith Haring Is Here!

September 19, 2008



In the summer of 1979 I interned with a poets workshop in New York City that hosted weekly open readings at the East Village’s Club 57. One of the regulars was Keith Haring, a pale, nerdy-looking art student with Elvis Costello glasses from Kutztown, Pennsylvania. Week after week, he would hop up on the makeshift stage and repeat a small number of words over and over in his gentle, deadpan voice: “baby. car. apple. dog. baby.” He wasn’t much of a poet but he was adorable.

Soon after, Haring gave up on naming objects and instead began drawing them on the walls of the city’s subway stations. He became an art world star practically overnight, and had his first one-man gallery show in 1982, at the age of 24. Within a couple years you could hardly turn around in any major city in the world without bumping into one of his iconic, cartoonish images.

What I like most about The Universe of Keith Haring, opening Friday at NWFF, is its extensive footage of the artist working, which he almost always was. Dealers told him to draw less in order to decrease supply and thus increase prices, but he couldn’t stop covering public space with his whimsical doodles. He painted murals all over the world, and opened a store in Soho called the Pop Shop which sold nothing but items bearing his images. Although I’ve always loved Haring’s work, I used to think he was either greedy or egomaniacal; after watching this documentary, though, I now think he was just compulsive, and actually very generous. He had a Really Big vision that he needed to share with everyone, which often meant giving his work away, especially to political causes. (See an example here.)

The documentary is also a nostalgic chronicle of downtown New York in the 1980s, where punk, hip hop and art school cultures came together in a legendary way. Haring painted to the music of the B-52s and the Ramones, and befriended Jean-Michel Basquiat, Madonna and Grace Jones. Through interviews with friends and family we learn that he became a dance club fixture, fell in love often, embraced AIDS activism, and claimed he didn’t feel white. In many ways, he was the ’80s. If he had lived into middle age (he would have turned 50 this year), who knows what kind of artist – or person – he might be now. Sadly, though, he died of AIDS at the age of 31.

U.S. Senate Passes Film Preservation Legislation

September 18, 2008

Terrific news to report!  This past Tuesday night, the United States Senate passed H.R. 5893, the bill reauthorizing the National Film Preservation Board and National Film Preservation Foundation.  The bill now moves on to President Bush for his signature and is expected to become law within the next 2-3 weeks.

More information on the bill
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:h.r.05893:

September 17 Press Release from Office of Senator Patrick Leahy
http://leahy.senate.gov/press/200809/091708d.html

Crazy cool multimedia performance thing at OTBs

September 18, 2008

I’m not sure I get it, but this sound awesome:

On the Boards kicks off the 08/09 season with a multimedia extravaganza, courtesy of Europe’s Superamas
Superamas | BIG, 3rd episode (happy/end)
Thu – Sat | Sep 18 – 20, 2008 | 8pm | $24

(Seattle) – On the Boards (OtB) is thrilled to open the 08/09 performance season with the Seattle debut of European performance collective Superamas. This internationally lauded company comes to OtB with BIG, 3rd episode (happy/end), a provocative multimedia performance using theater and dance vignettes with film interstitials to expound on the search for happiness and love.

BIG, 3rd episode, the final installment in the BIG trilogy, crafts a world in which the men are macho, the women are beautiful and the dialogue seamlessly volleys between vapid gossip and philosophical musings on love and sex. Superamas focus their energy on deconstructing three scenarios – a band practice, hanging out in a locker room, and a house party – while sourcing a multitude of pop culture objects, including Sex and the City and Nirvana, and writers/theorists, such as Michel Houellebecq and Boris Cyrulnik. In Seattle Big, 3rd episode will be augmented with the addition of 10 local dancers to the 8 Superamas performers.

Hovering above this all is the company’s staggering precision as they employ their cinematic sensibility to pause, rewind and rework scenes throughout the show. With completely pre-recorded dialogue, directed lighting and carefully choreographed performances, BIG, 3rd episode uncovers the dark side of happiness while displaying the technical prowess of the company.

Originally founded in 1999, Superamas have since split their time between Paris and Vienna, garnering an international reputation for their cheeky collisions of performance, video and text. In their almost 10 year history, the company has travelled to festivals and venues such as Vooruit Art Center (Belgium), La Villette Paris (France), BIT Teatergarasjen Bergen (Norway), Hebbel-Theater Berlin (Germany), the Wexner (OH) and the Under the Radar Festival (NYC). This summer they premiered a brand new work, EMPIRE, at the Avignon Festival (France).

Tickets for Superamas
BIG, 3rd episode (happy/end)
General Admission $24 | student & opening night RUSH discounts available

On the Boards Box Office
206.217.9888 | ontheboards.org | 100 West Roy Street, Seattle, WA 98119

MOMMA’S MAN

September 12, 2008

MOMMA’S MAN     (94 MINUTES)     2008      W/D:  AZAZEL JACOBS     PLAYS  FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 22 AT:    7 AND 9PM      PLUS  SATURDAYS AND SUNDAYS AT:    5PM

I was fortunate enough to see this film at SIFF (as that totally LOVELY, KIND, MULTI-TALENTED and TOTALLY ACCURATE PROFESSIONAL, Ryan Davis, Communications Director at NWFF, generously loaned me her SIFF Pass!) and it haunts me still.  I really loved it!  It was a definite case of film serendipity–you know how when you look forward to a film you’ve picked out from the schedule, and you decide to make it a double bill so you go to whatever is before it at the same venue?  Naturally the one I came for came for sucked (SUKIYAKI DJANGO WESTERN–it started out with Quentin aping Clint (original!) and was initially dull, boring and derivative, but ended up being stupid and pointless.  I am personally of the belief that Q. and Co. smoked at least a KILO of pot and then decided “let’s make a movie!”–OY!)  So I was SOOO happy I chose to see this film before it!

It is an semi-autobiographical account by Azazel Jacobs (son of avant garde filmmaker Ken Jacobs–who I’m SURE lives for the day when people STOP SAYING THAT, but as it’s pertinent to the film, I beg his forgiveness for doing so), that tells us the story of a son visiting Ma and Pa back East after just having his first child.  We meet him as he’s trying to fly home to California, but the weather keeps him grounded.  And as one day turns into two, and then three and then…….he starts to consider exactly why he’s rushing off so fast.  (With the new little one there is the normal extra tension (and responsibility!) in the marriage, and his hectic, unfulfilling work schedule add to his feeling of being overwhelmed.)  One of the most endearing images in the film is him finding his box of childhood treasures, and going through them in a cape that he obviously made himself when he was 6.  Oh, and did I mention his parents PLAY his parents in the film?!  Adding level upon level upon level.  (His mother’s Greek chorus of “Can I fix you something to eat?” becomes almost a mystical part of the background.)  And WHAT a place to grow up!!!  Filmed in the actual loft he grew up in–it’s, it’s, well, more like the warehouse that’s at the end of the first Indiana Jones film–full of–well–I’m not actually sure, but I KNOW avant garde artists must need them!  Stacks and stacks and stacks of precisely ordered whatevers, stacked to the ceiling!  The living quarters are shoved in a corner and as basic as basic can be, almost as if habitation for the human beings is an afterthought.  (The scene where Mom and Dad view one of Dad’s latest creations, a GORGEOUS gown lit up from the inside in way I can’t describe, but will ALWAYS remember….incandescent is NOT the right word!)  So we follow him around, visiting friends, checking out the neighborhood, trying to hook-up with a long-lost love.  And descending more and more into his childhood, getting used to no responsibilities and nothing to do everyday, as well as Mom’s nurturing presence (and FOOD!).  In the meantime his poor wife is trying to figure out how New York has swallowed up her husband, as he no longer returns calls or even bothers to pretend he’s trying to get a plane home.  Ironically, it’s Mom that gets through to him in a most unexpected way, when, as deceptions do, all the conflicting stories finally come to a head, and all the lies and vulnerabilities are revealed.

It’s a lyrical film of quiet beauty and insight.   Sigh.

Two groovy new posters

September 10, 2008

From Mr. Peter Lucas.

Strangers in your living room

September 10, 2008

Today tickets went on sale for the Couch Fest Film Festival, a film festival that tours audiences through willing living rooms throughout the city.

I also, fittingly, came across this mention of Home Movie Day, “a celebration of amateur films and filmmaking held annually at many local venues worldwide.”  Last year NWFF showed THE LAST SLIDE PROJECTOR in honor of Home Movie Day, and while I don’t think we are doing anything to officially commemorate it this year, I still applaud the effort and encourage people to get involved.

New York Times on new distribution models

September 8, 2008

In yesterday’s New York Times, Manohla Dargis cut to the core of how independent film, and film distribution has changed.  Discussing Jim Jarmusch, the Coen Brothers, and Spike Lee, she shows how far we have travelled from when they were the cutting edge of low-budget American independent cinema.

Her examples of the new guard are films and directors who often have a home at NWFF.  From Kelly Richert (Old Joy) and Momma’s Man to Frownland “with its grubby milieu and rivers of mucus” she sees much of the the interesting work being distributed outside the studio system.

And in foreign work, she notes, La France, “which found a distributor in a nonprofit cinematheque.”  That cinematheque being Northwest Film Forum.  Come see one of the most inventive musicals in years before it closes Thursday.

The Wrestler picks up Golden Lion and distribution

September 8, 2008

In what has been a crazy whirlwind weeked for Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler, the movie won the Golden Lion at Venice, and after an all night bidding war, was bought by Fox Searchlight.

The words coming out of Venice were glowing- saying that in particular Mickey Rourke’s performance was one of the best of his career.  Congratulations to NWFF Board President and Wrestler Executive Producer Jennifer Roth.


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