Archive for October, 2007

an inspiring week

October 15, 2007

After a few days of catching up on sleep, laying off of booze and digesting the entire experience of this year’s Local Sightings Film Festival, I can honestly say that it has been the best year yet! I’ve never been so excited about and inspired by Northwest filmmaking, and I’ve never seen so clearly what is completely unique about Local Sightings.
Throughout the festival, all kinds of filmmakers from Seattle, Portland and Vancouver mingled in the lounge. Jurors Vanessa Renwick and Joe Swanberg, both active filmmakers themselves, had infectious enthusiasm for the festival (and especially for the rarely seen 1963 Vancouver gem THE BITTER ASH, this year’s historic presentation.) The premieres of experimental documentary features METROPOLE and ALL MY LOVE (the feature competition award winner) as well as an intimate panel discussion on new directions in documentary filmmaking explored really interesting and important developments in Northwest non-narrative work. It was exciting to see glimpses of new projects in progress, from Lynn Shelton’s new narrative feature MY EFFORTLESS BRILLIANCE to the upcoming Portland-made documentary THE MORE THINGS STAY THE SAME. And most inspiring: Thursday night in a packed Cinerama, the announcement of the festival competition winners preceded an amazing live presentation of BRAND UPON THE BRAIN!- the homecoming of one of the most ambitious experimental film projects to be shot in Seattle. Director Guy Maddin narrated the unique performed film for the first and possibly only time.
Local Sightings is all about connecting people, energy, passion, process, ideas, inspiration. Its about the artists in this region getting together, showing new work, and celebrating- not the business of movies, but the thrill of making moving image art in new ways. It is less about cinema as product, and much more about exciting possibilities.
I really want to thank Dave and Adam, my partners in steering this crazy thing; jurors Joe, Vanessa and Jonathan, and all of the staff, volunteers, artists and audiences involved in making this year’s Local Sightings really exciting and enlightening. I can’t wait to see what next year brings, and how the second decade of the festival unfolds. If you were involved, as a participating artist or an audience member, let us know your thoughts!

More Local Sightings party pictures!

October 12, 2007


Local Sightings 2007 Award Winners

October 12, 2007

The 10th Annual Local Sightings Film Festival is a wrap!

Thanks to everyone who participated — our volunteers, filmmakers, sponsors, staff, audiences, jurors — we could not have done it without you!

Congratulations are also in order for our 2007 winners! Every year, Local Sightings awards one feature film and one short film with a cash prize. Outstanding films are selected for inclusion in the competition by festival programmers, and competing films are viewed by our esteemed guest jurors during the festival. The winning feature filmmaker will receive $4,000 in cash and a theatrical run at Northwest Film Forum. The winning short filmmaker will receive $1,700 in cash, public exhibition at Northwest Film Forum and $1,000 of studio time and equipment rental.

And the winners are…

Best Feature:
All My Love
Director Brian Short

Best Short:
Fortune Hunters
Director Thom Harp

Check out some photos from the festival on our Flickr page. There are also some more great party photos (with Karen Black!) here.

Best Film Of The Year?

October 12, 2007

It was 40 years ago…

October 8, 2007

Or rather 44 years almost to the day, Larry Kent’s BITTER ASH premiered in Vancouver, and what a scandal it caused. The film went head to head with the Canadian censors, a story that seems to be well documented online. On Friday, October 11, the headline of the Ubyssey, the student paper of University of British Columbia, read AMS SLAMS DOOR ON MOVIE. Five days later another story appeared on the front page of the same paper, BITTER ASH TO CHALLENGE CENSORS.


Because of its frank sexual content, the film was banned pretty much everywhere. Kent “conveyed a down-to-earth realism, dramatic tension and sexual eroticism, which came as an unexpected force on screens that were then so empty of Canadian films”. Besides being censored, THE BITTER ASH has become notorious in Canada’s film history annals for a number of reasons: it’s thought to be the first feature to include a shot of a woman’s exposed breast [editor’s note: discounting, of course, Nell Shipman’s innocent naked romp in Back to God’s Country in 1919]; and it was the first Canadian feature to tour the university circuit, drawing large numbers of student viewers before a circuit of this kind even existed. The film sold out in advance when it screened at McGill in Montreal. Male students were so eager to see the naked breast and graphic sex scenes, they broke down the locked doors and stormed the cinema.

I’m not sure if at the time it made its way south of the border to Seattle screens (anyone know the answer?). In todays world who knows if the film would have even cleared customs. Now some 44 years later, we’re extremely excited to present Larry Kent’s controversial first feature. I wish today’s paper’s headlines read THE BITTER ASH TONIGHT!

And more from Guy Maddin

October 8, 2007

A Moment With Guy Maddin

October 8, 2007

There’s an interview with BRAND UPON THE BRAIN! director Guy Maddin in the P-I today (online, at least). It’s brief, but it’s worth it. Here’s my pull quote:

Seattle is one of my favorite cities. This showing here is really what I’ve been waiting for since making the movie. What a great movie-making community! It was my favorite movie-making experience of all time — coming to Seattle for nine crazy days, working with a crew of crazy volunteers, working with a bunch of actors that I saw nude within minutes of meeting them! They just started changing in what I assume is a West Coast way, and you know, for this bug-eyed Midwesterner I found it very charming that people had a level of comfort that bordered on the pornographic, at least to a Lutheran filmmaker. After getting my heart rate back down I was really thrilled. Everyone everywhere I go asks me how I cast this film, and they’re astounded when I tell them that everyone was just right there in Seattle.

Calling cards

October 6, 2007

People looked quizzically at the simple white business card slipped (often more than once) to them during last night’s Local Sightings Big Opening Night Party.

The contents of the card? Just the facts:


“What’s this?” they’d ask.

Well, some dedicated workers here at NWFF are putting together — after a long period of popular demand — a way for local filmmakers (NWFF members and non-members alike) to connect on projects and share resources. For now, the new Callboard will consist mainly of an email list-serve, and a buggy (we’re working on it!) place for you to post resumes and pending projects (my advice: stick with using the list-serve for now).

Our team of experts is on the task round the clock, and a much bigger filmmaker collective site is planned. But for now, let’s keep it simple, shall we? Just send us your email, and on October 15 we’ll launch the list-serve.

Filmmakers can look forward to a semi-steady supply of moderated emails filled with calls-for-entries, shout-outs of crew needs on projects (casual and professional, including NWFF produced films with visiting directors), and declarations of dreams in-the-works, for those of you full on promise but low on necessary support.

Filmmaking dabblers and experts alike, join forces! Get to know each other! Don’t be shy.

Feedback encouraged. At NWFF we aim to please.

Some photos from last night’s opening night film

October 5, 2007

Pictures from the Big Opening Night Party for Local Sightings are starting to trickle in, but meanwhile, I’ve posted a few from the opening night screening of the CHURCH ON DAUPHINE STREET on our Flickr page.

Send me more if you’ve got them! [#]

Muchas gracias to photographer Steven Schardt. Reconsider, won’t you?

Eastman Kodak Building 50 Demolition

October 3, 2007

I wish it was caught on film….