Archive for January, 2008

Trivia challenge answer

January 31, 2008

In last week’s NWFF Digest, I asked if anyone knew how many Seattle theaters exclusively bore the Orpheum name?

Well, no one got the answer spot-on. A few were close, but here is the complete answer (courtesy of David Jeffers):

Any discussion of Variety Theater and Vaudeville in American history must certainly include the name Orpheum. It is virtually synonymous with the mixed-program “clean” houses, which began in the nineteenth century musichall and ended in the twentieth century moviehouse. Orpheum was everywhere, from coast to coast, and Seattle was no exception. Over the years, six Seattle theaters bore the Orpheum name exclusively.

#1 200 2nd Avenue
Back in the day, our forefathers kept the seedier parts of society, theaters, saloons and “social clubs” south of Yesler. This box-house on the southeast corner of Second Avenue and Washington operated as The Orpheum from 1896-1900.

#2 1010 2nd Avenue
Located on the east side of Second Avenue between Madison and Seneca, this diminutive vaudeville theater operated as The Orpheum 1904-1908.

#3 500 3rd Avenue
Mention The Coliseum Theater to most Seattle residents and they are quick to respond, “Banana Republic.” The first Coliseum was in fact located on the southeast corner of 3rd and James. Cornerstones of early Seattle theater, Sullivan and Considine opened this vaudeville house in 1907, which was re-named Orpheum 1908-1911, and closed for good in 1913.

#4 919 3rd Avenue
Another Sullivan and Considine establishment, this Orpheum opened in 1911. Owners changed and the name moved in 1923. The theater on the southwest corner of 3rd and Madison was boarded for years and served as a USO during WWII before it was razed in 1954 for a car park. The side street entrance was located at 217 Madison.

#5 1932 2nd Avenue
Seattle’s grand lady of theaters, John Cort’s palace on the southeast corner of 2nd and Virginia opened December 28, 1907, and was home to Orpheum Vaudeville for a number of years before Moore was dropped from the name 1923-1927. Along with the Moore Hotel which surrounds it, The Moore Theater is the sole survivor from this list.

#6 504 or 506 Stewart Street
The last hurrah for Orpheum in Seattle was the grand palace designed by B. Marcus Priteca at 5th and Westlake. This theater opened as The New Orpheum on August 28, 1927 and survived the demise of vaudeville a few years later. Operating as a movie theater and concert hall for most of its existence, this spectacular Spanish Renaissance tribute to the height of movie palace opulence was demolished in 1967 to make way for the Washington Plaza (Weston) Hotel.

Information for this chronology was obtained from the following sources:

  • Marquee Magazine: The Journal of The Theatre Historical Society of America, Second Quarter 2001, “Showcase: Dale Carter’s Puget Sound Scrapbook.”
  • Sanborn Digital Maps 1867-1970, by ProQuest
  • Polk and Co’s Seattle City Directory
  • The Seattle Daily Times
  • The Seattle Post Intelligencer
  • The Seattle Star
  • The Film Daily Yearbook of Motion Pictures
  • The Sayre-Carkeek Seattle theater index, courtesy of Seattle Public Library
  • The Skullerud Seattle theater index, courtesy of MOHAI
  • Washington Secretary of State Puget Sound Regional Archives
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    A critical time for film funding

    January 29, 2008


    The future of 4Culture, the King County Arts funding agency, will be decided very soon. And your help is needed. Pleas often go out to help funders and write your legislator, but this is the REAL DEAL. If this forward-looking funder is to continue to help the local arts community, it will be because we keep it alive.

    Join me. Come this Wednesday, or Thursday and tell the House and Senate what amazing work 4Culture has done for artists and arts organizations in King County.

    Capa Cache Resurfaces

    January 27, 2008

    For photography lovers, a major discovery!

    Tigers oh my

    January 26, 2008


    It’s been an extremely busy week here in Rotterdam, where the 37th edition of the “director’s festival” is well under way. As a dutiful servant to the Seattle film going public I find myself dodging street cars (Seattle beyare of your future) as well as bicycles, who are refreshingly bountiful in Holland a nation that kindly affords them their own lanes! But the real pleasures of my sojourn in this Dutch wonderland are the images my friends, images that inspire and a festival that contextualizes those images like none other.

    Spring quarter of Northwest Film Forum’s calendar is hot on the intersection of video art and cinema. The subject is so dear to the curatorial hearts here in Rotterdam that the festival has initiated a series of installations created by some of Asia’s hottest filmmakers. Most notably, Wang Bing’s CRUDE OIL, in which the outstanding documentary filmmaker shows the oil extraction industry in the Gobi Desert. The festival assures us this is indeed a film, wheighing in at some 14 hours (apparently Bing was unhappy with the cut that lasted an entire week!), a film to be presented as 2 two-day 7 hour exhibits. Bing, whose 2003 effort WEST OF THE TRACKS received much praise, is also screening his doc FENGMING, A CHINESE MEMOIR in which he tackles head on the cinematic conundrum of the talking head for a full 186 minutes.  

    But let me not deceive you, the festivals selections are more than the extremely long. Rotterdam is well known for exhibitng en masse, short films in a program for the second year titles SHORT AS LONG AS IT TAKES. Last night I took a couple of nice offerings in this category, with tow new films from Marie Losier. Losier, who also happens to program films for Alliance Francais in New York City, presented her new cinema portrait on Tony Conrad; experimental filmmaker, musician/composer, sound artist, teacher and writer. Losier has been building a career out conjuring fun loving cinema portraits of some of the mediums most daring experimenters. Her effort with Conrad is no exception, finding her loving camera in Conrad’s home, car, and on the streets of Suburban New York as Tony moves about like jello in a bowl, fumbling, bumbling, bouncing on the bed wearing a dress. You can’t help but enjoy the lightheartedness of this cinematic creature. so much so you can’t wait to explore his own offerings. Conrad’s ouvre is extensive, and I semll a Third Eye cinema program in the works!

    In the feature category, Rotterdam prides itself on discovering new talent. This morning I took in a film entitled BARE ASS JAPAN. Exhibiting the sort of non-chalant spirit that has recently struck accord with the American Mumblecore directors, filmmaker Ishii Yuya gives us an absurdist yet grounded pic on youth in suburban Japan.  A slacker comedy  with some tinges of (gulp) NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. The film follows a recent high school grad as he attempts to make sense of his life by moving into a small farm with a girl he has a crush on, and his father. The three are a motely crew; the father having left his wife, the girl trying to escape the boring day to day of selling sweet cakes in the street, and the son who is trying to find himself and figure out how to love the girl .  There are some odd moments where other boys uncomfortableness in the world of sexual relations leads to ackward attempts at sex. this no doubt his the reason why the director has landed him few fans amongst the female population back home. But there is a certain freshness to this work, as it doesn’t really fit the traditional categories of Asian filmmaking. It is wholly original, and I’m convinced it can find audiences Sate side. Yuya is also presenting three more titles at this year’s festival. He’s apparently a prodigous fellow back in Japan.

    The screenings call, as I head off to the third one today. A festival like this doesn’t lend you much time for enjoying the famous Dutch light, nor to reflections for the folks back home. I’ll be abck in Seattle on the 29th, and will be around NWFF for the Finnish program next weekend. There’ll be plenty more to report, so stop me if you’re in the theatre. My gratitutde to the film goers of Seattle for entrusting me on this mission.

    – your cinematic servant abroad.


    Even more dark teenage lust

    January 25, 2008

    By popular demand we have added some extra shows of DEEP END, the lost 1972 classic from director Jerzy Skolimowski.

    You can catch the film Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday (Jan 27-31) at 7:15 and 9:15pm (no show Wednesday, Jan. 30).

    In other cinemas, and having nothing to do with dark teenage lust, the 2008 Children’s Film Festival Seattle kicks off tonight.  Hope you got your tickets already – they are selling like hotcakes.  Or, more appropriately, like pancakes.


    Not seen in the P-I

    January 21, 2008

    It appears that “glowing” review of DEEP END by Sean Axmaker somehow did not make it into this weekend’s P-I. Sean has posted it on his blog in full color, so check it out:

    Here’s a pasted version:

    Deep End (1971)

    directed by Jerzy Skolimowski


    An unearthed classic of early seventies cinema, Jerzy Skolimowski’s darkly satirical psychological drama of young lust, sexual callousness, obsession, and fantasy is a different kind of coming of age film. 15-year-old Mike (John Moulder-Brown) gets his first job as an attendant in the Men’s private baths of a dreary, clammy public swimming pool in suburban London, but his tips come from the middle-aged women in the other section, who pay generously for him to (in the words of his gorgeous co-worker Susan, played by Jane Asher) “just go along with the gag, that’s all they want.” All he wants is Susan.

    Polish director Skolimowski is a curious cult director without a cult, creator of another weird and creepy film deserving resurrection – the 1978 psychological mind game The Shout – and last had limited arthouse success in 1982 with Moonlighting, starring Jeremy Irons. He’s arguably had more popular success as an actor (most recently in Eastern Promises) than as a director, where his themes are reminiscent of the early work of his Polish film school comrade, Roman Polanski.

    “Deep End” combines Skolimowski’s own darkly psychological interests with a perfectly British sensibility rubbed raw. He punctuates the veneer of social realism with cheeky sexual metaphors, from the red he injects into the film like a flush of lust and desire to the goopy spurt of an ineffectual fire extinguisher as the final punctuation of a scene of frustrated coitus. Cat Stevens sings a few songs with the group The Can, but they’re a lot darker that those he did for “Harold and Maude,” another film about a young virgin in a relationship with an older woman.


    The film really tosses Mike into the deep end of sexual desire and social currency, where the teen is ill-equipped to deal with his urges or the emotions, let alone the mercenary folks around him. Former British sex symbol Diana Dors plays a fleshy, leering customer who practically mauls young Mike, treating him like a sex toy to get herself off in the most hilariously grotesque and creepy bit of self-gratification I’ve seen.

    Mike, meanwhile, turns stalker, obsessively following Susan on her dates. She alternately encourages and attacks him for it, enjoying the attention until he gets too intrusive, treating it all like a game. Mike may be wrapped up in his own wants and demanding attention (or, more specifically, Susan’s attentions) like a child throwing a tantrum, but she’s no idealized innocent and is just as self-absorbed and emotionally unaware and inarticulate. Engaged to a creep because he’s got the money to lift her out of her dreary existence, she’s engaged in an affair with an older swimming instructor who paws at his teenage girl students. With Mike, she can be chummy and then turn cold and vindictive, flirting and teasing and then callously turning on him, as much out of boredom as her own frustrations as the unfulfilled object of everyone’s obsession. Mike just turns to his own fantasies, which are no less destructive. Sex may be power, but it certainly doesn’t empower anyone here.

    Deep End” has been unavailable in any form for years, but Paramount recently struck a new print for revival screenings across the country. It plays the Northwest Film Forum in Seattle from Friday, January 19 through Thursday, January 24.

    Cash for Filmmakers

    January 16, 2008

    brewsters-millions.jpg Once every two years the city gives filmmakers the chance to apply for up to $10,000 cash. Every filmmaker should apply:

    If this is new to you, come to an information session at NWFF, February 4 from 5:30 -7:30pm.

    WSFO and WashingtonFilmWorks

    January 15, 2008

    The Washington State Film Office duties may be absorbed into WashingtonFilmWorks, a two year old non-profit, and I think it’s a fine idea. The State Film Office has had its hands tied for years, and been unable to effectively push for more production in Washington State. WFW is in a better position to move quickly to support production, and would provide a clear point of entry for out of state films and those wanting to take advantage of the incentive. It’s too early to lobby CTED (the State Film Office’s boss) but that time will come.

    Here is the Memo from the State, City and WFW:

    January 8, 2008


    To: Seattle Film Advisory Committee

    From: James Keblas, Director, Seattle Office of Film + Music; Amy Lillard Dee, Director, WashingtonFilmWorks; Suzy Kellett, Manager, Washington State Film Office

    Re: Recommendation regarding the future of the Washington State Film Office

    The leaders of the offices listed above have recently engaged a strategic planning process to better define effective ways to work together in delivering services to those involved in the various aspects of the growing film industry in Washington. In this time, Suzy Kellett, who has been the Director of the Washington State Film Office for the last decade announced her intention to leave the position. The three of us decided to use this planning process to explore an innovative response to this change.

    After careful consideration and discussion we have a recommendation regarding the future of the Washington State Film Office that we believe will strengthen our sector and the future of film in Washington. We offer it here for further development by all interested parties and we look forward to providing leadership in working towards the best possible solution for all.

    We recommend that the Washington State Film Office and WashingtonFilmWorks merge to become a single office known as WashingtonFilmWorks.

    This recommendation reflects our careful analysis of the pros and cons of separate or merged offices. While we acknowledge that such a merger presents challenges, it is our belief that a merged office will create a stronger and more efficient resource for the film sector in our state as well as for visiting filmmakers shooting productions in Washington.

    We envision combined functions that can strengthen the sector through:
    – A single voice in marketing and communication to enhance the climate for the film industry in our state.
    – A more powerful and integrated support network for industry players.
    – More unified planning and advocacy to increase effective growth.
    – Improved educational and professional development opportunities for emerging and established film makers, actors, crew and film service providers.
    – An efficient operational structure that reduces duplication and confusion.

    These merged functions must be balanced with two primary programs which we believe are critical to maintain and grow the film industry statewide. These two programs are:
    1. Location and Production Resource Center. This program provides essential preproduction services to ALL film work in the state, serving both those projects that have received incentives and those that have not. It serves as the foundational touchstone for linking all aspects of the sector as well as communities throughout the state. These services have been provided through the Film Office.
    2. Incentive Program. This program provides funding assistance for selected film projects and is a key component in ensuring the health of the film industry in the state. There are opportunities to further enhance services to these clients.

    We believe that funding support for a merged office could be built on the following:
    – Tax credits and interest, currently the mainstay of WashingtonFilmWorks’ budget as defined by statute.
    – Washington State General Revenue Funds via a State contract, continuing funding currently allocated to the Washington State Film Office.
    – Private sector support including membership fees and philanthropic contributions by corporate, individual and foundation donors.

    There are certainly issues to be further examined and significant questions to be answered. A key question is the correct legal structure for such a merger and an examination of the best method for merging public and private roles.

    This memo has been shared with the WashingtonFilmWorks Executive Committee and the leadership in the Washington State office of Community Trade and Economic Development (CTED).

    We invite you to share this memo with others you feel would be interested.

    We present this recommendation to you confident that we all share a commitment to a successful future for film in our state. We strongly believe that the approach outlined here is a positive step in building a competitive and creative sector. We look forward to exploring next steps together.

    Movies and Media

    January 14, 2008

    I was fortunate this weekend to spend a good deal of time with Norman Solomon, in town to present his film WAR MADE EASY. If you have not seen it yet, I highly recommend it. It is easy to write WAR MADE EASY off thinking that you have already heard the rhetoric, already ‘think critically’ about media and avidly listen to NPR, or feel so helpless with everything going on in the world you don’t need another issue to worry about. But after talking with Norman, I am really glad to be reminded why it matters what I read, listen to, and watch – and to get that boost of motivation to break free of my usual news wires and seek out even more, varied sources.

    On a related note, reviews of upcoming films at NWFF are regularly posted on several Seattle area blogs which I am happy to attempt to push traffic towards. These sites, in addition to several others, consistently give thoughtful coverage to films and events here that are often overlooked by the bigger fish. Please give them a read:

    DEEP END – Reviewed on SIFFblog by Kathy Fennessy
    Film News at

    Here’s to keeping all parts of independent film independent.

    An Interview From Back Stage With Crispin Glover

    January 12, 2008

    Check it out.