Archive for January, 2010

IF A MEDIUM FALLS IN THE FOREST…

January 19, 2010

A message from Northwest Film Forum programmers and the announcement of a special screening.

Anyone familiar with the wide-ranging programming at the Film Forum knows that we are not your traditional film purists. Part of our job is indeed to preserve the legacy of cinema, to show cinema’s history and exhibit classic works in the manner that the filmmakers intended. But we also take very seriously the other part of our job, which is to constantly rethink cinema, to embrace a variety of attitudes, approaches and new technologies. The all-too-often devisive and oversimplified debate of “film versus video” first began around the time of our organization’s founding 15 years ago. Although the word “film” is central in our name, we decided long ago to adopt a malleable approach toward the meaning of that word, to openly redefine it as an expanding art rather than a particular medium, and to emphasize its shifting and growing implications through embracing the more important word in our name, “forum.” As we’ve presented classics on 35mm celluloid alongside works in every imaginable format of film, video and new media, our staff, audiences, involved artists, instructors, students and volunteers have been engaged in an ongoing exploration of all possible tools, techniques and content of cinema. While the development of various new filmmaking technologies and high quality home viewing formats have presented tricky challenges for cinemas, we’ve generally approached these as fascinating cultural twists and relevant issues to sink our teeth into as curators and presenters.

But we were recently taken aback by the announcement of a series called “Sci-Fi on Blu-Ray,” showing at SIFF Cinema this month. While the selection of historic films in the series is impeccable, we found the screening format of these classics, and the fact that the video format actually shares the bill with the content, perplexing. We were quickly reminded of a traveling series that came to Seattle last year, “Hi-def Hitchcock,” which bragged that the great auteur’s masterpieces were being shown “for the first time in HD!” “Isn’t 35mm film higher def than HD?” we thought? “And weren’t most if not all of those Hitchcock films available for exhibition on 35mm prints?” We have the same questions about the blu-ray screenings in this Science Fiction series, which SIFF programmers describe as “superior presentations.” Aren’t these so-called high-tech presentations of classic films acts of convenience and promo glitter, when in fact the analog medium on which these movies were shot and intended to be shown is both superior and available for exhibition? There’s no doubt that SIFF Cinema’s video projection system is outstanding, nor doubt that the movies in this series are strong enough to withstand exhibition in the unintended format and remain entertaining experiences. And the average viewer may not want to concern him or herself with such issues of presentation. But professional presenters have a duty to make careful, sometimes subtle but no less important distinctions when choosing and communicating such things.

We fully support digital presentations of digital works, but as we see the producers of the country’s largest film festival championing blu-ray as a superior format to 35mm film and disregarding the original intentions of master filmmakers, the issue becomes not simply a question of digital vs. analog, but one of the legacy of cinema and the responsibility of its arbiters. The discussion among our staff has raised interesting questions and some differing opinions, but there is complete agreement here that films such as Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Planet Of The Apes (both featured in the “Sci-Fi On blu-ray” series) are best presented in 35mm. After some investigation, we found that there are, in fact, great 35mm prints of many of the films in the series available for exhibition. So we are left wondering why the prints are not being shown. Are film programmers no longer discerning? Does the public no longer care? If this is indeed the end of a dying era of 35mm film then wouldn’t screening available prints of classics be all the more important? Or should celluloid be put to rest?

In order to engage in a discussion with Seattle audiences and film professionals, we invite you to join us for a screening of a glorious, pristine 35mm print of the 1968 film PLANET OF THE APES on Thursday January 28th at 7pm. The journey into the classic film’s imagined future will be followed by an informal discussion with Sean Axmaker (MSN.com formerly of Seattle PI), Dennis West (Cineaste), Jeff Shannon (Seattle Times) about the future of film exhibition.

Planet of the Apes presented in the original high definition 35mm!

January 19, 2010

Check out the latest addition to our winter calendar:

In response to current blu-ray screenings of Science Fiction films in Seattle, Northwest Film Forum champions the presentation of classics on their intended format and opens a dialog about the future of film presentation.

We are proud to present this screening of a glorious, pristine 35mm film print of the 1968 sci-fi classic starring Charlton Heston as an astronaut stranded on a planet where superior apes dominate inferior human slaves. The film is a one of cinema’s most imaginatively crafted and beautifully shot science fiction allegories.

Immediately following the cinematic journey into an imagined fate of the human race, join us for a coffee and informal discussion with Seattle film professionals Sean Axmaker (MSN.com formerly of Seattle PI), Dennis West (Cineaste), Jeff Shannon (Seattle Times) and others about the fate of cinema exhibition.

Free admission for Film Forum members.

Read more here: http://www.nwfilmforum.org/live/page/calendar/1215

We have a new house manager!

January 19, 2010

We are delighted to welcome Brady Rainey as our new House Manager. You might recognize Brady as our current volunteer coordinator. Brady has been involved with the Film Forum as a box office volunteer, projectionist and special events staffer for over three years, and recently took on the position of volunteer coordinator.

Stop by and say hello to Brady, a face you just might recognize if you’ve been to NWFF before.

Heaps of thanks and praise are also in order for our Interim House Manager, Jennifer Schneider, who has been filling the role since the beginning of January with aplomb.

We had over 100 resumes sent in for the job—an embarrassment of riches—and were astonished by the quality and competency of everyone who applied. Thanks to everyone who expressed interest in the position!

Seattle Magazine Admires The Animation

January 18, 2010

Last Thursday’s “Animated Art” program, with films by Webster Crowell, Salise Hughes, Britta Johnson and — among others — Drew Daily got a rave from Seattle Magazine. Check here for the review.

The Stranger, Seattle Weekly and UW Spectator all suggest

January 14, 2010

…you attend Rebel Without a Cause with Screenwriter Stewart Stern this Friday!

January 15 at 8pm
Join us for a special 55th anniversary screening of this classic film, with special introduction by screenwriter Stewart Stern. James Dean achieved iconic status for his starring turn in Ray’s searing study of teenage alienation in mid-century America. Rebel Without a Cause is a stylist’s rendition of the socially conscious melodrama. This anguished portrait of the American nuclear family has become an enduring emblem of the very decade it sought to question.
More info/buy tickets

Looking for even more? How about spending an afternoon with Stern, watching Rebel, stopping the film to ask questions and discuss it’s creation?

An Afternoon with Stewert Stern on Rebel Without a Cause

Saturday, Jan 16, 12–3pm
Instructor: Stewart Stern
Tuition: $25/WigglyWorld members, $30/general
Max Attendance: 48

Join Seattle’s most famous Hollywood-expatriate, Stewart Stern, for a live screenwriter’s commentary of Rebel Without a Cause. In a casual setting, we’ll watch Rebel Without a Cause and Stewart will share his stories about the film, its writing and its production.  The film will be intermittently stopped at the audience’s request to discuss specific scenes.  Though not required, Mr. Stern strongly suggests those planning to attend this event attend the previous night’s screening and bring their questions the following day.  Although born into Hollywood royalty as the nephew to Paramount founder Adolph Zukor, Stewart began his career at low-budget studios and then television before his seminal story went into production. We’re delighted to have this master raconteur spending an afternoon with us in our cinema.

Register for An Afternoon with Stewart Stern

Here’s one for our projectionists

January 13, 2010

Courtesy of this delightful blog.

Seattleites interviewed for “New Brow” art doc

January 13, 2010

Yet another reason not to miss New Brow, which plays this Friday-Sunday at 7 and 9pm: four prominent Seattle residents were interviewed for it!

Come watch and look for Marlow Harris, Kirsten Anderson, Charles Krafft and Larry Reid.

And if that’s not enough, the director Tanem Davidson, will also be here opening night – Friday, January 15.

Watch the trailer or get your tickets now.

Eric Rohmer Dead at 89

January 11, 2010

One of the founders of the influential French New Wave Movement, Eric Rohmer, died today.  A French critic and filmmaker, Eric Rohmer directed more than 50 films including Oscar nominated “My Night at Maud’s,”  which screened last eyar in our 69 series.

From the BBC: “Arthouse French film-maker Eric Rohmer has died at the age of 89, his producer has told the AFP news agency. He was the director of the critically acclaimed ‘Tales of Four Seasons’ and one of the key figures of the post-war New Wave cinema movement. Rohmer, born Maurice Scherer, made 24 films over a period of 50 years. His main works include the cycle of films ‘Six Moral Tales.’ The third, ‘My Night at Maud’s,’ shot in 1969, brought him international recognition. His films are well-known for being almost completely devoid of action, featuring lengthy conversations between the usually young, middle-class protagonists. Born in 1920, he was formerly a literature professor, and literary works heavily influenced his film-making. After the release of his last film, ‘The Romance of Astrea and Celadon,’ at the Venice film festival in 2007, he said he was considering retirement.”

“Zoo” Filmmakers Begin Shooting New Documentary

January 7, 2010

This just in!

“Zoo” Filmmakers Begin Shooting New Documentary
on Would-Be Gerald Ford Assassin Sarah Jane Moore

Sundance Channel Playing “Zoo” All This Week Prior to Festival
After Film Is Named Named One of Top 25 Indie Films of the Decade

SEATTLE, WA, January 6th 2010 – The filmmaking team of “Zoo” and “Police Beat” – writer/director Robinson Devor, writer Charles Mudede and cinematographer Sean Kirby, in association with producer Zach Sebastian’s “Pamphlet & Parable” – have begun filming a new documentary on Sara Jane Moore, a suburban, middle-aged wife and mother who attempted to assassinate U.S. President Gerald Ford on September 22, 1975 outside the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco.

In a very short time, Moore went from country clubs and nurseries to meetings with violent Marxist radicals who advocated the overthrow of government by violent force. Strangely, she was also a narc for the FBI.  Torn between loyalties, Moore eventually gave information to both the FBI and the radical left. Her exposure led to death threats from both camps, and the hatching of a plan to assassinate Ford.

Now eighty and free on parole after thirty five years in prison, Moore agreed to fly back to San Francisco for the first time to do a four day interview on camera. Filming took place all over the city, including inside the St Francis Hotel (where she was thrown to the floor and interrogated for several hours after the assassination attempt) and the Federal Building where she had multiple meetings with her FBI control agents.

“She led an incredible life,” says Devor. “She was a Southern girl who joined the army in her teens during World War Two and patrolled the US coast for German submarines. She reinvented her self in Los Angeles in the fifties and sixties where she became a Hollywood insider married to the Oscar winning sound designer of ‘Citizen Kane.’ By the seventies, she was remarried and settled in a conservative upscale East Bay neighborhood with a young son. She would commute one hour each way into San Francisco to be educated as both a Marxist and an FBI informant – all the while commuting back to the suburbs to pick-up her son from private school.”

“We can see in her the two extreme sides of American politics: the far right and the radical left,” ventures Mudede. “These extremes are still with us today. But at one moment in history, Sara’s body was the site of this struggle between the forces of conservatism and revolution. The conclusion of this struggle was a bullet flying in the direction of an American president.”

“Like ‘Man on a Wire’, this is one of those incredible tales that recent American history has seemed to forget, “ says Sebastian. “Not only is it a compelling character portrait,  it is also a strange and thrilling story that perfectly captures the mood of mid-70’s high paranoia. Think of it as Errol Morris’ ‘Mr. Death’ meets Francis Ford Coppola’s ”The Conversation.’”

Despite the San Francisco locale, Devor is keeping things local to Seattle. He brought crew down from Seattle, rented gear from Oppenheimer Camera, and is using Modern Digital for transferring and post.

As part of the build up to this years 2010 Sundance Film Festival, ‘Zoo” will be playing on the Sundance Channel this week at the following times:

•    Thursday, January 7th at 8PM
•    Friday January 8 at 2:45AM
•    Tuesday, January 12th at 11:30 PM

For more information, contact Zach Sebastian: PamphletParable@gmail.com

Robinson Devor – BIO

Robinson Devor ‘s last feature film, ZOO, made its world premier at 2007 Sundance Film Festival, and then went on to play at the prestigious Cannes film festival. The film was picked up for distribution by ThinkFilms and has played in theaters around the world. The press has called the film “masterful” (Dennis Lim, New York Times), “beautiful and beguiling” (Village Voice), and “a breathtakingly original nonfiction work” (Scott Foundras, Variety).  It was recently named by Filmmaker as “One of the Top 25 Indie Films of The Decade.”

In 2005, Robinson Devor premiered his second feature film, POLICE BEAT, in Dramatic Competition at Sundance 2005. The film was called “emotionally devastating” (Rolling Stone), “a visual knockout” (Variety) and “Sundance at its best” (Los Angeles Times), as well as named one of the year’s best films by the New York Times, Film Comment and Art Forum. For his efforts, Devor was nominated for a 2006 Indie Spirit Award and 2005 Gotham Award.  The film has since been included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

Named one of Variety’s “10 Directors To Watch” in 2000, Devor made his feature film directorial debut with THE WOMAN CHASER. Debuting at The New York Film Festival and then at Sundance, THE WOMAN CHASER received critical high marks throughout its US theatrical run (“Wicked and Brilliant”, The New Yorker; “A Masterpiece”, MovieMaker Magazine).

A 2002 Fellow at the Sundance Institute, Devor collaborated with Seattle journalist Charles Mudede (co-writer of POLICE BEAT) on the feature script, SUPERPOWER, the story of an African child soldier attempting to recapture his childhood after a civil war.

Rob Devor and Charles Mudede

Moore at St. Francis

On Set in San Francisco

Patti Smith coming to Seattle Arts & Lectures

January 6, 2010

I saw Dream of Life at Northwest Film Forum during SIFF 2008 and have been curious about seeing Patti Smith in person ever since. Now’s the time!

Link to Seattle Arts & Lectures page

PATTI SMITH

Patti Smith Benaroya Hall, 7:30 pm
Monday, January 25, 2010

Order tickets now!


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