Archive for September, 2007

Local Sightings Jurror Vanessa Renwick Wins SAM’s Money!

September 27, 2007

Yesterday the SLOG announced that our Local Sightings juror Vanessa Renwick (ssen above with filmmaker Bill Daniels) is the recipient of a PONCHO Special Recognition Awards in the amount of $1,500 from SAM. She’ll be in town next weekend for Local Sightings presenting a program of work from Portland, but will apparently be returning for the awards ceremony at SAM on Oct. 23. Congrats Vanessa!

Jobs and production gossip from one group!

September 27, 2007

Our friends over at Media Inc publishing just launched a fine blog about production news in the Pacific Northwest. At the same time, they’ve ramped up their website for the Production Index, and it’s now an excellent place for free posts and looking for paid jobs.  There are a ton of listings of crew members, and will soon have actual paid jobs.  Let’s move these jobs off of craigslist and into our own community.

Look for an announcement soon from NWFF about a new online networking tool for our members.

Indigenous beginnings

September 26, 2007


On Friday, I finally had the chance to see Mala Noche. After fifteen years of anticipation, it’s a testament to the strength of this film that it actually held up.

26 years after Cassavettes’ Shadows, the Northwest had its first breakout DIY feature film. Mala Noche is quite simply the most important film ever made in the Pacific Northwest. In 1985, the Northwest had a small, dedicated group of filmmakers, and there were artists making strong work- particularly experimental films. If I’ve missed a key Northwest film, do tell me, but I know of no indigenous NW film work that had such an international impact, and inspired a generation. With Mala Noche, Drugstore Cowboy, and My Own Private Idaho, Gus Van Sant defined the Northwest on film better than anyone. And its work made by one of our own.

As much as anything else, sitting in a theater in 1991 watching My Own Private Idaho inspired me to get involved with filmmaking. It’s shocking  how long many of us had to wait to see Van Sant’s first film screened properly.

The Ins and Outs of Programming for NYFF

September 26, 2007

I came across this article today, giving you some insight into the mind of a programmer. Not just any programmer either. A rather esteemed programmer for the New York Film Festival. Someone we often quote in our calendar. Someone we had out to serve on one of our recent Local Sightings juries. That man of course is Richard Pena. There were a number of points that Pena made here that I think are essential to any one interested in becoming or already working in the programming field. Primarily, his use of the word “curated”. He goes onto to define it stating that the films in the program should give people the sense of having been very carefully selected. As I often get questions from patrons, volunteers, or students in the community about my job, I’d offer this as the essence of what it is that I do. Carefully select.

The article also offers quite a bit more in terms of the back story of how Richard landed such a prestigious position, not so surprising as that is the other question I’m often asked. That story however, is quite long, and quite boring, so I won’t go into details.

Lastly, and again the other question people want to know, Richard was asked about leaving his post. He suggests that perhaps the future vision of his organization is best suited in the hands of someone else. For longevity, both personally and for the organization, these are certainly words of wisdom. Not that I’m suggesting I’m leaving here or anything like that, just that right now I’m a steward. At some point this ship as it grows, will need to chart new waters.

Rob Nelson Lives!

September 24, 2007


A few weeks back I blogged about another New Times victim, my former local critic Rob Nelson. In an act of absolute genius, the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis thoughtfully hired Nelson to become a regular blogger on their website. The city was faced with the crisis of a failing critical culture, and the Walker took a leap into what might certainly be the future of film criticism. Fortunately for Minneapolis, they plucked one of the nation’s foremost film critics to become one of their own. I applaud the Walker, long considered a cultural leader, for tossing this man his line to safety. It might be the smartest move an arts institution has ever made. Good luck Rob at your new gig. I toast to you and the Walker, may you have a long and healthy life.


September 23, 2007

La Mort

Local Sightings opening night film & jury guests announced !

September 19, 2007

We are pleased to say that the 10th Annual Local Sightings Film Festival will open with THE CHURCH ON DAUPHINE STREET, a locally-made documentary detailing “one Katrina story.” From the film’s website:

One year ago, Father Joe Benson watched Hurricane Katrina tear the roof off his church’s historic parish building, just two years after a fire nearly destroyed the church itself. But Blessed Seelos Catholic Church sits on precious high ground in New Orleans’ upper 9th Ward, and it is now being rebuilt by volunteers—-who are hammering right through another hurricane season.

In this independent feature-length documentary, we meet Father Benson and Arthine Vicks, two kindred spirits who are working to reunite a fiercely independent congregation: Blessed Seelos is home to the city’s deaf Catholics and to many Spanish-speaking immigrants, making it trilingual and unlike any other church in New Orleans. With volunteer help from a group of strangers from Seattle and union craftsmen from New Orleans, many of whom lost their own homes to Katrina, this small church, perched on the edge of some of the worst destruction America has ever seen, is slowly becoming a symbol of renewal for the city.

The Church on Dauphine Street reveals what life in New Orleans looks like a year after Hurricane Katrina and tells the story of Father Joe, Arthine, their unique church and the kindness of strangers.

We can also reveal that our jury of film industry professionals will this year include acclaimed filmmakers Joe Swanberg and Vanessa Renwick, and Jonathan Marlow (former VP of GreenCine and founder of new V.O.D. company Cabinetic). The jury awards cash prizes for the best feature ($4,000) and short film ($1,700) in competition. The winning films will also be given the opportunity for theatrical exhibition in NWFF’s cinemas.

Here’s more:
Joe Swanberg studied film production at Southern Illinois University, where he developed an interest in emerging video technology and a crippling addiction to the Internet. His three features, KISSING ON THE MOUTH (2005), LOL (2006) and HANNAH TAKES THE STAIRS (2007), premiered at the SXSW Film Festival and have played extensively at festivals around the world. HANNAH is being distributed by IFC First Take and is currently playing in theaters across the country. He produces an episodic web series, YOUNG AMERICAN BODIES, with his wife, Kris, that can be viewed for free online at He lives and works in Chicago, IL.

Jonathan Marlow is a writer, director, producer, cinematographer, critic, curator and composer. Not necessarily in that order. A moderately accomplished filmmaker with more than two dozen short films to his credit, Marlow is presently the President and CEO of the independent film distributor Cabinetic, with stops at, Scarecrow Video (where he ran the smallest operational movie theatre in the world) and the Rent-by-Mail/Video-on-Demand service Greencine along the way. It is not uncommon for Marlow to draw on his disparate experience in articles and interviews for numerous publications on issues pertaining to the motion picture business. Concurrently, he is a Board member of the San Francisco Cinematheque and occasionally hosts film screenings throughout the country showcasing remarkable cinematic works that are otherwise unavailable elsewhere.

Vanessa Renwick is a Portland-based film/video/installation artist and all-around cinematic rabblerouser. Her experimental and poetic documentary pieces explore place, relationships, landscapes, borders of all sorts, and the possibility of hope. Over the past year, her work has been shown in exhibitions and festival across North America (from Art Basil in Miami to True/False Film Festival in Columbia, Mo and the Vancouver International Film Festival) as well as across the globe (Germany, Belgium, Scotland, Italy, Austria, South Korea, Mexico.) She is the recipient of numerous festival awards, grants and residencies. Her work has pushed at the boundaries of the documentary form, and her efforts as a curator/organizer has helped bring similarly unique work from Northwest film artists to an international stage.

The Obscure Charm of Indiscreet Desire

September 18, 2007

Kathy Fennessy of SIFFblog talks MALA NOCHE.

See MALA NOCHE at NWFF starting Friday.


Thank God For YouTube!

September 18, 2007

I imagine that a good portion of you have already seen this clip of Andrew Meyer getting tased by police after asking John Kerry a series of probing questions. Of course this lead many to suggest that Meyer was a victim of police brutality.

In a strange set of circumstances, I was also today researching Historylink to track down some information about Seattle’s early movie theatre history where I stumbled across this interesting article about an occurrence of police brutality that occurred here in 1968. The most intriguing part of the 1968 story is summed up in the following sentences, “No copies of the film would be provided to requestors. The story was not covered by either of Seattle’s daily newspapers.”

Had the Andrew Meyer incident taken place in 1968, who’s to say that anyone outside of the Kerry rally would even know that the event even happened. Although YouTube has certainly over saturated our already media saturated lives, I think we might be better off.

One Shot Film

September 17, 2007

I received an e-mail today pointing me in to take a look at Canadian singer Leslie Feist’s recent music video. The claim in the e-mail was that part of the dance in this video was heisted from the Vis-A-Vis Society’s Mandance. Although there are some similarities between the two dances, I was really struck by the amazing craft given to this one-shot film.

We’ve taken to asking visiting filmmakers to create one-shot films while they’re screening at NWFF. So far Andrew Bujalski, Todd Rohal and most recently Aaron Katz have created one shots in Seattle. When Joe Swanberg arrives next month we’ll ask him to do the same. I dare say, this is one of the most well thought out one shots I’ve ever seen. Busby Berkeley would be proud!