Archive for November, 2008

Happy Holiday Party!

November 26, 2008

Please come to our annual holiday party!

Thursday, December 4, beginning at 7pm
at Northwest Film Forum
1515 12th Ave (between Pike & Pine on Seattle’s Capitol Hill)

Free!
The sun is setting at 4pm, so it must be time for our annual Holiday Party!
Featuring
* DJs warming your chestnuts with festive, danceable tunes
* Vintage holiday TV shows
* Back alley dreidel games
* Your favorite film critic as Santa!
The film community is coming out for some holiday cheer.
Join us for dancing, camaraderie and the second annual building-wide eggnog competition.

Mirah at Henry

November 25, 2008

Don’t let this event fall off your radar…

Mirah and Spectratone International: Share this Place

Thursday, December 11, 2008, 7:30 – 9:00 PM
Henry Auditorium
$8 Henry and Northwest Film Forum Members | $10 Student /Senior | $12 General Admission
Tickets available from www.brownpapertickets.com beginning November 11.

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Share This Place features live music by Lori Goldston and Kyle Hanson of Spectratone International and Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn, and stop-motion films by Britta Johnson. Based on the writings of the French scientist/poet, Jean Henri Fabré, the show explores the sordid, tragic, and triumphant lives of insects. The evening begins with a conversation about Adapation and an interview with Goldston, Hanson, Johnson, and Zeitlyn about the process of adapting Fabré’s writings, followed by a performance.

The project Share this Place was made possible with support from the City of Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs. This event celebrates the K Records release of the DVD Share This Place
Featured artists: Lori Goldston, Kyle Hanson, Spectratone International, Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn, Britta Johnson

What to do with that old clunker digital camera

November 24, 2008

It’s slow, it eats batteries, it only holds 5 photos…but it’s a prize to someone, right?

I saw this online today and thought it deserved a second posting:

Donate Your Used Digital Camera to LA’s Skid Row Photo Club

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Los Angeles-based photographer and blogger Dave Bullock says:

The Skid Row Photography Club‘s first show, The Beauty of the Street, premiered last Thursday during the Downtown Art Walk. The participants were ecstatic to see their beautiful work on the walls and the hundreds of people who came into the gallery loved what they saw.The SPRC started as an idea I “borrowed” from the movie Born Into Brothels . I wrote a proposal to the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council to buy digital cameras which we then gave to people living in Skid Row. I gave the participants brief lessons in composition and turned them loose. For the last six months we’ve met every Tuesday at UCEPP in Skid Row.

During that time they shot over 20,000 photos between them. An amazing body of work ranging from flowers to architecture to a man defecating in the middle of the street.

Dave asks if any Boing Boing readers might want to donate digital cameras to folks living in Skid Row, so they might extend the project. “The cameras we’ve been using are about $200 each,” he explains. “We’re just a club, not a non-profit as of yet.”More info here on how you can participate. The short version: if you would like to donate digital cameras please email Dave directly at eecue@eecue.com.

Skid Row, in case you don’t know, is a massive, permanent homeless encampment in downtown Los Angeles — the largest such community in the United States. About 8-9,000 homeless people live there. This “heat map animation” provides a compelling visualization of the site, though data hasn’t been updated in a while.

FRONTRUNNERS: AKA MEET MAX FISCHER OF RUSHMORE, KNOWN IN THIS DOCUMENTARY AS GEORGE ZISIDAIS

November 23, 2008

FRONTRUNNERS:        (2008)     80 MINUTES     D:  CAROLINE SUH    DOCUMENTARY       PLAYS:     FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 28TH TO WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3RD   AT :       7   AND     9PM

First, I must say that the actual experience of watching this film was made even more enjoyable by my companion that day, Pallas.  How better to watch a film about young people than to have one sit next to you while you see it?  And she was VERY well-behaved, when she had a comment to make she did so by cupping her hands around her mouth and whispering into my ear, thus respecting me, the film, and the other viewer.  It made me look forward to The 4th Annual Childrens Film Festival–January 23rd to February 1st–even more than I already was!   (Goddard had to start somewhere, ya know.)

Stuyvesant High School in New York City is for gifted students, (it’s been attended by such luminaries as Jimmy Cagney, Tim Robbins, Thelonious Monk and Dick Morris) and accepts only 3% of the 25,000 kids that apply.  Which means they have the most intense student elections in this country.  Frontrunners follows the stories of 2 of those students as they aspire to the highest office in their administration.  To add to it’s expertise, Editor Jane Rizzo worked on Tanner On Tanner, Robert Altmans satire/valentine to our nation’s electoral system.

You know that these kids are destined for politics as I’ve never seen such lustrous hair and white teeth before, esp. in the top two candidates for School President–and I’m from L.A.!  (Check out their school pictures, dramatically staged in front of the flag!).  Hannah’s a gorgeous actress with impressive credentials (she appeared in Todd Solondzs Palindromes)–though when the film notes describe her as “the best hip hop dancer in the school”–a white chick from the Upper West Side of Manhattan?!!!  (‘Nuff said.)  She’s very talented in the Arts, and has personality galore, but little experience in school administration.

George, honestly, George IS Max Fischer, I lost track of all the clubs he founded (or is in), but they include the Juggling Club, the Bowling Club, as well as studying the rituals of his heritage, which includes Greek DanceThe Lounge is what gets me the most though–in true M.F. style, he has improvised a kinda bizarre meeting place for the intelligentsia who seek out his company by sectioning off an area in front of (what I assume to be his locker, thought he seems to use 2-3 more, with ropes that he appropriately uses to make a kind of triangle, draping material with (again appropriately) Greek symbols.))  When people arrive for an appointment (which are all recorded on in a file on his computer), he flips the material over the ropes to create privacy, and pulls down a sign that states that “The Lounge is in Session–Please Be Quiet” (or words to that effect).  So then he opens the various lockers, pulling out collapsible chairs, Perrier, etc., to make his guests comfy, as only a good host does.  He has tons of experience in school politics, but is viewed as kinda remote by the student body. The Lounge no doubt encouraged that impression.  It makes me remember how strange we all were in High School.  And how some of us have never grown out of it, really.

One of the students compares it to the Nixon versus JFK race, experience versus personality.  There is a rather unpleasant televised debate, but I don’t know whether to be encouraged or depressed by how many of the students say they’ll wait until the School Newspaper (rightly/ironically titled The Spectator) endorses a candidate.

If you wanna see the real-life Max Fischer, this is the film to see!

Historic photos from Seattle’s “film row”

November 21, 2008

Yesterday I got a call from KING5 news looking for leads on a story they were working on.  The reporter wanted photos of the old Lorraine Hotel, which is now the William Tell apartments in Belltown (and has just been sold).  He mentioned that the hotel once housed the likes of Clark Gable and other Hollywood royalty in its heyday.

According to a similar story in the Seattle Times:

The William Tell, originally known as the Lorraine Hotel, was built in 1925 in the middle of what then was Seattle’s “Film Row.” Major Hollywood studios all had distribution centers in Belltown, where Northwest theater managers would come to preview films and decide which ones to book in their theaters, according to the city’s 2007 historic-resources survey.

Managers, studio representatives and movie stars on publicity tours all reportedly stayed at the Lorraine, then one of Belltown’s few hotels.

Jerry Everard, co-owner of Belltown’s Rendezvous Jewel Box Theater, sent over these photos for the story.  Enjoy!

An update from our Board President, who also happens to be a prolific line producer

November 21, 2008

This just in from Jennifer Roth:

Greetings from the NWFF board president, the one who should have been blogging about the movies I line produced in Seattle over the last 6 months. I’ll try to submit more frequent production updates in the future.

I just completed two 35mm back-to-back features here in Seattle. In June I started on “World’s Greatest Dad”, a $4 million movie starring Robin Williams about a father who fakes a suicide note after his son dies in an auto-erotic asphyxiation accident…yes it’s every bit as hilarious as it sounds.

Exactly 6 weeks after principal photography wrapped on “World’s Greatest Dad”, cameras rolled on “The Whole Truth”, a $3.5 million screwball comedy with a twist. “The Whole Truth” sported a terrific ensemble cast including Elisabeth Rohm, Eric Roberts and Sean Patrick Flannery.

It’s not news that Seattle is awesome, for me working in our hometown has been amazing. By far the best part has been meeting working with so many wonderful qualified local people.  We have serious talent in this city and 99 percent of them aren’t jerks.

Film highs:

In both cases it was the directors. “World’s Greatest Dad” director Bobcat Goldthwait who made the uncompromisingly brilliant ‘Shakes the Clown” is the nicest and funniest director I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. Local heroine Colleen Patrick created “The Whole Truth” with a unique and business plan and a lot of hope. She is the most enthusiastic, caring and delightful director ever. She’s a walking field of dreams and her enthusiasm is contagious, even for a cynic like me.

Film lows:

On “World’s Greatest Dad” after a few weeks of spectacular weather, Bobcat commented that he found all the references to our summer a little creepy. He said (rightly) “Yes it’s beautiful here, but in LA we call this…Tuesday”.  Is our weather so bad the rest of the year that we are THAT ecstatic about a sunny day?

On “The Whole Truth” when an extra approached Eric Roberts and said “I don’t know anything about you except that you are Julia’s brother” – What??!! really lady??? “Runaway Train”, “Star 80”???!!! Eric handled it like a pro and charmed her, my stomach hurt all day.

I’m off to New York next week, more later…

Documentary Shrot List For Academy Awards

November 18, 2008

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have named 15 films that made the short-list in the Documentary Feature category for the 81st Academy Awards, whittling the number down from a record 94 that had originally qualified. Documentary Branch members will now select the five nominees from among the 15 titles on the shortlist. The Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, January 22, 2009, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater, and the awards for outstanding film achievements of 2008 will be presented on Sunday, February 22, 2009, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

The Fifteen films are:

At the Death House Door, directed by Peter Gilbert and Steve James
The Betrayal” (Nerakhoon), directed by Ellen Kuras
Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh“, directed by Roberta Grossman
Encounters at the End of the World“, directed by Werner Herzog
Fuel“, directed by Josh Tickell
The Garden“, directed by Scott Hamilton Kennedy
Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts“, directed by Scott Hicks
I.O.U.S.A.“, directed by Patrick Creadon
In a Dream“, directed by Jeremiah Zagar
Made in America“, directed by Stacy Peralta
Man on Wire“, directed by James Marsh
Pray the Devil Back to Hell“, directed by Gini Reticker
Standard Operating Procedure“, directed by Errol Morris
They Killed Sister Dorothy“, directed by Daniel Junge
Trouble the Water“, directed by Carl Deal and Tia Lessin

OBSCENE: A PORTRAIT OF BARNEY ROSSETT AND GROVE PRESS, WHO LIVES FOR FREEDOM OF THE PRESS AND SCREEN

November 17, 2008

OBSCENE:  A PORTRAIT OF BARNEY AND GROVE PRESS:     (2007)    97 MINUTES        D:  DANIEL O’CONNOR AND NEIL ORTENBERG      DOCUMENTARY          PLAYS:       FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 21ST  TO  WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 26TH  AT  7  AND  9PM.

Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Naked Lunch and Tropic of Cancer might never have published, or had to wait decades to be published, if it weren’t for Barney Rossett and Grove PressI Am Curious Yellow, one of the first mainstream sex films, would not have created the category of mainstream sex films, if it wasn’t for Barney Rossett and Grove Press.  But this generation of independent readers/film goers who have witnessed the rise of Homeland Security (and the subsequent fall of our Civil Rights in many areas), as well as the growth of the religious right and the censorship issues that have resulted from it, simply MUST see this film. Both to appreciate sacrifices others have made for them, and to be inspired to commit themselves to struggle for their own freedoms.  The list of books and films he (and his associates) fought for is insane–I can’t even begin to list them all.  (OK, I should mention just a few of the writers, anyway, there are plenty more interviewed in the film–Samuel Beckett, Allen Ginsberg, John Sayles, John Waters, Jack Kerouac, Alain RobbeGrillet and Harold Pinter.)  (I once slept with Mr. Pinter, but it’s a short, silly story.  Not that I’m implying that Mr. Pinter was……oh, never mind!)  Fortunately the Evergreen Review (the magazine Barney founded that started it all) has a website, with a link to a blog written by the man himself.

What’s especially refreshing about this documentary is that it’s a creation of 2 publishing professionals who are passionately committed to continuing the fight for the freedom of our literary rights, and who worked closely with Barney Rossett to try and restore him to his prior position when Grove Press was sold to less than reputable buyers.  The other refreshing thing is that it doesn’t try to paint Barney as a saint.  It’s difficult for any of us to relate to a documentary that’s sanitized and presents it’s subject as someone who never had the need to take a shower, as it were.  Which makes it all the easier to be inspired by this one.  What this man has done, with all the sacrifices he made to do it (4 wives, to start with! one he used to humiliate over the P.A. system(?!!)) is a real testament to one of the finest qualities of Americans everywhere, the bloody-minded refusal to give up.  EVER.  It is hugely entertaining while being a testament to the history of freedom of the press, and the unlikely people who end up being it’s heroes.

(I would also recommend another film that shares much in common with OBSCENE, PAPERBACK DREAMS, ((2008)  Directed/Produced by Alex Beckstead, funded partially by PBS) that tells the story of San Francisco’s Beat Bookstores, KEPLERS and CODYS, who were also involved in lawsuits (HOWL, anyone?) in the 60’s and 70’s over censorship issues.  (It can be purchased on their website, couldn’t find it for rent on Netflix or at Scarecrow.)

(Hardcore and Obscene–I’m on a roll!)

HARDCORE: THE SCREWBALL COMEDY, OR THE CLASS THAT TAUGHT US HOW CUKOR, HAWKS AND STURGES MAKE DIVORCE FUN AGAIN!

November 17, 2008

HARDCORETHE SCREWBALL COMEDY        Instructor:  Steven Schardt

NWFF PRESENTS THE CLASS TO TAKE ON ALL THINGS EXTREMELY WITTY.  IT TOOK PLACE ON SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 8TH FROM 10AM TO 7PM, WITH AN ADDED UNEXPECTED (BUT I’M SURE DELIGHTFUL) BONUS OF GROUP DISCUSSION AFTER AT A LOCAL RESTAURANT.

Having been a film instructor for 3 years (who has a deep love of Screwball Comedy), and (like everyone out there) having been a student, I was thrilled to be asked to go to this class and review it.  We saw 4 films that day that were chosen on the theme of divorce (something else I know about too, unfortunately), and the written material that was chosen to guide the discussions came from STANLEY CAVELL’S  PURSUITS OF HAPPINESSTHE HOLLYWOOD COMEDY OF REMARRIAGE.

THE LADY EVE (1941)   D:  PRESTON STURGES: I had seen this film before (well, I’ve seen them all multiple times, you have to to get all dialogue, for one thing, and they are such works of genius they deserve to be seen as much as possible anyway.)  Basic plot:  the wonderful Barbara Stanwyck and her father, the talented Charles Coburn, fleece their naive, wealthy victims of their cash.  All goes well until they meet up with Henry Fonda, a sheep ripe for fleecing as he’s an heir to a fortune and is also a scientist who just spent 1 year up the Amazon. (While watching this film I once again was reminded what talent he had for comedy, the slapstick he did for this film (along with his character, who is the straight man), is just delicious!).  Naturally they fall in love, he finds out who they are, so everything falls apart.  Being a woman, she can’t let it go at that, and schemes to marry him as a different person.  (Talk about taking stalking to a new level!)  Being the naive sucker he is he falls for it, but it all falls apart again, and a divorce is sought.  And then…………………………

The Philadelphia Story (1940)  D:  George Cukor: This, and the following film, are probably the two most recognizable Screwball Comedies of all time for most people.  Justifiably so.  They are probably two of the most outstanding comedies about divorce ever made. Period. Katherine Hepburn is directed by G. Cukor, who was known as a “Women’s Director” for his ability to get the best performance out of the better sex, and he and Hepburn teamed up and made some of the best films ever.  Watch ANY of them.  You’ll see.  Just like this one–honestly I feel silly even relating the plotline as who hasnt seen this film?!!  But, OK, Kate was married to Cary who drank.  They divorced.  She hooks up with a self-made man and is about to marry him. Jimmy and Ruth, reporters for a sensational rag they hate working for, are forced by their editor to cover this Society wedding, as their editor has the goods on Kate’s daddy’s affair.  And Cary is sober and wants his wife back. And then……………………………

His Girl Friday (1940)    D:  Howard Hawks:  Glenn Gordon Caron, before he even allowed the writers of Moonlighting to put pen to paper, had them watch this film the most so they could understand how he wanted the show to be written, the cross talk especially.  I’ve seen it 7, maybe 8 times, and get something new in every viewing.  Again, it feels stupid to even relate the plot of this all time classic, but here we go..Ace reporter Rosalind was married to Cary, her boss in the newspaper game.   They drove each other crazy and divorced, as she decided she wanted to live a “normal” life with a house, hubby and babies.  She needs Cary to sign the divorce papers, so she stops by the paper with her fiance Ralph.  They are marrying the next day.  A major story is breaking, and Cary convinces Rosalind to help cover it.  And then…………..(It has one joke that changed Hollywood history–breaking down the third wall.  I’ll give ya a hint, Cary says it and it has an R in it.)

Adam’s Rib (1949)  D:  George Cukor: Another Hepburn/Cukor collaboration, this time adding Spencer Tracy to the mix.  During the class I thought of at least 7 other films they starred in together–what a team!  In this one, one of my all time favorite actresses Judy Holliday, shoots philandering hubby Tom Ewell. Tracy and Hepburn are the A.D.A. and defense attorney, respectively.  Naturally this wreaks havoc in their own marriage, leading to them talking divorce, and a touching scene of them dividing up their assets in their lawyer’s office.  And then………………………..

(There was also a clip from Bringing Up Baby (1938)  D:  Howard Hawks. I don’t know who to thank for the choice of films, but, on behalf of the entire class, I thank you!)

The Pursuits of Happiness book that our many discussions were based on brought out a lot of points I had never really thought about, which is lovely for those of us who have spent countless days in Screwball Comedy Festivals, or glued to TCM (and think we know so much!).  The idea that most of them are set in the backgrounds of the wealthy made sense to those Depression-era film goers, (who these films were made for), as ONLY the truly rich had the leisure time to spend on the pursuit of romance, was a new one to me.  (Evidently eroticism is always expensive, one way or other!).  Also the metaphysics of innocence, the role of the father as educator and protector of virginity, the philosophy of remarriage, and Milton and his defense of divorce (esp. due to his own situation), yes, all these points and more were included, very insightfully, by Instructor Steven Schardt.  Who, if he ever wants to quit his day job, would be an excellent professor, knowledgeable yet approachable.

AND the class was VERY well attended, which gives ALL us instructors hope!

So, as this is my field of expertise, I always think there are 3 ways to judge if a class is successful or not-

1)  Material chosen–Was it relevant to the theme?  Did it keep the student’s interest?  Does it enrich the knowledge one had on the subject?

2)  Instructor–Again, did they hold the student’s interest? Were they warm and welcoming, encouraging students to express themselves?  Did they disseminate the information in an entertaining way?  (We’ve all been in classes where the teacher has a profound knowledge of his subject matter, but no clue how to get it across.  No one likes to pay to have that experience!).  How do they handle problems when they come up, i.e. can they think on their feet?

3)  Student Satisfaction–Did they feel the instructor felt their opinions were important?  Did they feel encouraged to express them?  Did they feel the class taught them something new, along with having satisfied their expectations of what they thought the class would be?  Did they meet new people who could be potential friends, based on this mutual interest?

So, what else can I do but issue a Report Card:

MATERIALS:                      A

INSTRUCTOR:                    A

STUDENT SATISFACTION: A

I’m sorry if you missed it, but the good news is that soon you may be able to transcend that problem.

Some Prop 8 Backlash

November 17, 2008

I received this (see below) today via Facebook.I heard about some of the backlash supporters of prop 8 have been receiving in the theatre world, but it looks like this is spreading to those in the film world as well.

Don’t let Cinemark profit from Harvey Milk’s legacy!

This group is specific to the promotion of Gus Van Sant’s incredible film “Milk” and raising visibility around Cinemark CEO Alan Stock’s $9,999 donation to Yes on 8. If 1,000 of us commit to see “Milk” at a competitor’s theater instead of Cinemark, at an average cost of $10 per ticket, that’s $10,000 of lost revenue.

Help us reach 1,000 members so we can send a message to Mr. Stock:
You will not profit from hate!

UPDATE: WE DID IT! 1000 Members in three days and still going strong. Thank you all! We’re stepping it up and aiming for 10,000 members (a $100,000 impact). This is aggressive but I think it’s possible. Keep it going. – Justin