Archive for February, 2008

Director Ramin Bahrani on his film Chop Shop

February 28, 2008

Listen here. Read here and here. Screening here


Proof that DVD is king

February 27, 2008

Or that George Clooney and a best-actress win are not worth even a rental:

There are currently 1522 holds on MICHAEL CLAYTON at the Seattle Public Library.  Given that I was once 549 in a cue for MILLION DOLLAR BABY, and my hold expired (a year from when it was placed) before I ever got my chance to borrow the DVD, I’ll predict that everyone waiting for CLAYTON will have to re-place their hold at least once before they get to watch Ms. Swinton’s performance.

The interesting thing is that the movie is still playing at Landmark Theaters, four times daily at the Metro.  But I’m OK waiting 2 years for my free hold.  So what makes a movie cinema worthy?  Rental worthy?  Free-from-library worthy?

Kon Ichikawa (市川 崑) 1915-2008

February 27, 2008

Kon Ichkawa





















 Harp of Burma

Harp of Burma 


I’d like to note the death of Kon Ichikawa, perhaps the last link to what’s considered the golden age of Japanese cinema. He passed away on February 13 at the age of 92. 


He started in the Japanese film industry in the 1930s. By the 1950s he was an established director. He particularly hit his stride in the late 50s and early 60s with a string of amazing films – his anti-war fclassics, HARP OF BURMA and FIRES ON THE PLAINS;  his hilarious and still transgressive 1959 film, ODD OBSESSION; his 1963 masterpiece, AN ACTOR’S REVENGE; and his great 1965 documentary, TOKYO OLYMPIAD – among many others.


When I first saw his films, in the late 60s, I was awe-struck.  We did a retrospective of his work at the Grand Illusion in the late 80s, which I think was that last time that his oeuvre was seriously examined in Seattle.


He was often compared to the likes of Kurosawa and Mizoguchi. His star diminished as the new wave of Japanese cinema took the spotlight and his non autuer-like body of films refused an easy analysis by critics and historians. However, he consistently kept putting out quality product up until two years ago, occasionally hitting some high points with the likes of The MAKIOKA SISTERS.


There are still few films as deeply humanitarian, moving and so cogently against war as HARP OF BURMA. It’s well worth going to Scarecrow to check out some films by this great film director.  


Sayonara, Kon-san.

‘burden’ objects?

February 26, 2008

For decades in the US, the process of “deaccessioning” has been an unfortunate part of the library lexicon. Of course institutions like ours have benefited from this process (see our Search and Rescue programs where we contextualize films that have been discarded or sold off from larger collections). Nevertheless, overall, we disapprove of these processes, and suggest a course of action whereby institutions with film holdings maintain their collections and recognize the historic value and importance of such holdings. We’re lucky in Washington state to have the University of Washington library system, who have been working hard to maintain and preserve their collections. We’ve even partnered with them on a number of programs to present the work for contemporary audiences.

That is why the distressing e-mail regarding the fate of film holdings in the UK, has prompted me to reprint it here. I must admit how impressive it is that the BBC and other media outlets in the UK cover this issue and could only long for some coverage like this if a similar fate ever awaited the UW film holdings. Nevertheless, I don’t really know what to do about it, but anyone in the UK should urge The Museums Association to take another path of action.

“This week there is an uproar in the UK museum community over the issue of museum deaccessioning – transferring or selling off parts of collections that are not currently in demand. Some moving image archives have faced these issues as managers with no knowledge of film ask “why is the archive spending money holding films that nobody wants to see?”

The cultural sector in the UK is under stress as government arts funding has been slashed to fund the 2012 London Olympics. As one person said, arts around the country are being cut for five years, so that the London can have 17 days of sport. For example, the core budget of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council is being cut by 25%, and funding to the regions is being reduced.

The Museums Association is now recommending that disposal of collections be a regular part of collections development. An article in the Times
noted that “Thirty years ago the association drew up a strict code of ethics outlawing sales of works of art. “De-accessioning”, as sales are known, is a dirty word in the museums’ world and the disposal of objects from public collections has long been condemned as cultural asset-stripping.”

Now the Museums Association has released a “Disposals Toolkit” giving guidance to members on procedures to follow. The MA website quotes Mark Taylor, the MA’s director: “Museums typically collect a thousand times as many things as they get rid of. Wonderful collections can become a burden unless they are cleared of unused objects.” The press release notes that “The toolkit is designed to support changes
to the MA’s Code of Ethics for Museums which encourages transfer of objects that could be better used elsewhere, and, in exceptional circumstances, allows for the sale of objects on the open market. ”

You can download the handy “Disposals Toolkit” here:

The Times continues, “Meanwhile, the association has given its blessing to a sale of two important paintings from the Watts Gallery in Compton, Surrey. Edward Burne-Jones’s The Triumph of Love will be auctioned at Christie’s on June 5 for an estimated £600,000, and Albert Moore’s Jasmine for about £800,000. The association said that the works were from the gallery’s “noncore collection”.”

“Opponents of the policy change point to the vagaries of fashion, claiming that Victorian works of art sold off in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s for next to nothing were in some cases now worth millions of pounds.”

The Museum Association presented their point of view in an interview on Monday’s Radio4’s Today programme, which will be available on-line through next Sunday. (the piece started at 8:48am, and is 20 minutes into that clip from the programme).

Bradley Steinbacher’s Indiana Jones Whip

February 21, 2008


We’re holding this hostage. Read about this over at SLOG.

So, was she, you know? Any good?

February 17, 2008

In case you need another option for what film to go see this week, don’t forget INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION at the Grand Illusion.  Hip score, sleek look, disturbingly funny…a great option for you Sunday night.  I can’t find anything about plans for a DVD, so plan your picks wisely!

The PI Hearts NWFF

February 14, 2008

Scroll down, you’ll find us….

We heart you back, Seattle.

March Point to premeire on Independent Lens

February 14, 2008


Our good neighbors here at 1515 12th are keeping up with the plans to take over the world. Longhouse Media has won numerous awards in the last 12 months, and their new doc March Point is going to premiere on ITVS’ Independent Lens. This is an amazing development for a youth made documentary on the environment. More on March Point is here.

The movie will premiere in the 2008-2009 ITVS season, and there’s a good chance it will end up here as part of the Community Cinema program.

The Romanians Are Coming!

February 13, 2008

Next Monday we open THE GREAT COMMUNIST BANK ROBBERY, Alexandru Solomon’s documentary that is both a bizarre recreation of a crime of which the motive is still difficult to fathom and an astonishing evocation of a lost world of Romanian Stalinism. The title has at least two different meanings—it is, at the same time, a documentary, an inquiry, and a memoir; three films rolled into one that can be easily defined by means of a single epithet—staggering. And I don’t even know what staggers more… The fact that a handful of young people robbed the National Bank of Romania in cold blood in 1959? The fact that the youngsters proved to be not your average gangsters but Jewish intellectuals thrown out of the Communist Party? The fact that after being caught they where forced to “act out” their own parts in a propaganda movie—titled THE RECONSTITUTION directed by Virgil Calotescu, a “cineaste” who would put even poor Ed Wood to shame? The fact that the only survivors of this unique case in the history of the Romanian criminology are either friends of the “guilty parties” who emigrated or Securitate tormentors who freely tortured all suspects they could lay their hands on? Or, finally, the fact that one of those butchers shamelessly talks in front of the camera about his bravado? The film is an example of essential national cinema, both in terms of subject matter and history, and, again, it can be perceived, from the outside, as a morbid curiosity. Nevertheless it provides a view into the world which has been increasingly populating American cinemas with films like THE DETAH OF MR. LAZERASCU, 12:08 EAST OF BUCHAREST, and 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, AND 2 DAYS. If you’ve seen any of these films, I can’t recommend enough that this is essential viewing.

For an interview with the director in which he discusses how he came across the story check out the BBC.

For more on the recent emergence of Romanian cinema check out the NY Times.


February 11, 2008

The NWFF Spring 2008 film calendar and workshops are now live online.  You’ll have to hold your horses on buy tickets for a few days while we get that sorted out, but check out all the great stuff that’s coming our way in the next three months.

Get a headstart on figuring out which workshops you’ll be taking in the Spring, and start marking your date book with the unmissable film events.

The printed calendar is due to arrive in member mailboxes and your favorite coffee shop next week.