Archive for February, 2009

“A perfect film”

February 20, 2009

Check out the great reviews for BALLAST from the Times and PI this morning:

“3 1/2 Stars: It’s a perfect title for a perfect film. And by “perfect” I simply mean it’s flawless on its own terms. If you’d prefer to see more of its shots in perfect focus, you’d be missing the point entirely…

More important is Lawrence’s big-hearted humanity and the mutual goodwill that “Ballast” embraces, brought vividly to life between Hammer and his exceptional cast of unknowns, who honed their characters over two months of improvisational rehearsals. Together they’ve created a valuable, unpolished gem.” —Jeff Shannon, Seattle Times

“This ultra-low-budget, regional indie is filled with the kinds of textures, and the kinds of lives, you don’t get with the polish of Hollywood…Touching and human, a small story of necessity and responsibility rousing defeated people that slowly unfolds and fills the film with the authenticity of its lives.” -Sean Axmaker, Seattle PI

BALLAST has already won the Best Director and Best Cinematography award at Sundance, and is up for Best Cinematography and Best Debut Feature at tomorrow’s Independent Spirit Awards.

Buy your tickets now.


Independent Spirit Award

February 19, 2009

This weekend the awards program to be excited about isn’t the Oscars, its Film Independent’s Independent Spirit Awards. Why you might ask? Well it just so happens that our very own Lynn Shelton is up for the Acura Someone To Watch Award. Coincidentally so is Barry Jenkins director of MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY, who will also be at Northwest Film forum on Monday to present this film, which opens tomorrow in our cinemas. Jenkins is also nominated for Best First Feature. MEDICINE’s Director of Photography James Laxton is  nominated for Best Cinematography. Among his competiton is Lol Crawley with BALLAST, also opening tomorrow in our cinemas.

BALLAST has its fair share of nominations with nods to twelve-year-old JimMyron Ross for Best Supporting Actor, Tarra Riggs for Best Female Lead, Lance Hammer for both Best First Screenplay and Best director. And the film is nominated for Best Feature.

The Best Foreign Film category features two upcoming screenings at Northwest Film Forum, Carlos ReygadasSILENT LIGHT (arguably the best film of a generation), and Steve McQueen‘s HUNGER.

Needless to say, there’s a lot we’re rooting for. Good luck to everyone!

Harrison Ford and The Model Shop

February 18, 2009

We’re screening Jacques Demy’s The Model Shop for one more evening as part of our 69 series. Demy’s first choice for the lead in the film was Harrison Ford (you can view snippets of his original screen test for the role on youtube (see above), but Columbia executives pressed the director to choose a more established actor – Gary Lockwood, who had recently appeared in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – over the relatively unknown Ford.

Little Dizzle in SXSW

February 17, 2009

We’ve got Texas in our soul.

The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle has been accepted into the Emerging Visions program at South By Southwest.

For a full listing of films and the screening schedule, click here.

Original 1969 review of ME AND MY BROTHER

February 16, 2009

Download a high res version here.

(For more on Robert Frank, check out this recent NPR story revisiting some of his work.)

Me and My Brother plays NWFF February 18-19 at 8pm.

Two great American indies…

February 16, 2009

…play for ONE WEEK ONLY beginning this Friday.

Check out the press for Ballast:

“The one indisputably great film at Sundance ’08… (This) poetic and profound movie transcends categories and announces the arrival of a major new filmmaker.” —Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“Four stars: One of the few American pictures of 2008 to say what it wants to say, visually and narratively, about a specific situation and part of the country, in a way that transcends regional specifics.” -Chicago Tribune

“The movie is a beacon of independent filmmaking, not simply because Hammer opted more or less to self-distribute it, but because it’s evident that we’re a million miles away from Hollywood.” -Boston Globe

“A serious achievement and a welcome sign of a newly invigorated American independent cinema.” -NY Times

Winner of the Best Director award at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and voted one of Roger Ebert’s “Top 20 Films of the Year.”

and Medicine For Melancholy:

“It is an exciting debut, and a film that, without exaggeration or false modesty, finds interest and feeling in the world just as it is.” -NY Times

“Smart, funny, and visually gorgeous, with the intimacy of a relationship drama and the resonance of a city portrait.” -NY Magazine

“Visually more sophisticated than the bulk of features to yet come out of the new wave of DIY independent American cinema, narratively smoother and yet still boundless in mold-breaking ambition, Medicine for Melancholy offers a self-contained rebuttal to claims that precious, naturalistic dramas about the existential dilemmas of hipster singles are exclusively a white man’s game.” —Karina Longworth, Spout

Now watch the Ballast trailer:

And the Medicine for Melancholy trailer:

Buy tickets for Ballast
Buy tickets for Medicine for Melancholy

Spring 69 Series Poster

February 13, 2009


Designed by Peter Lucas.

The Spring 69 lineup has been announced:

The Wild Bunch
Mar 13 – Mar 19
(Sam Peckinpah, USA, 1969, 35mm, 145 min)
Master director Sam Peckinpah’s classic tale of aging desperados determined to forge one last stand is a feat of technical and artistic genius.

Paint Your Wagon
Mar 13 – Mar 19
(Joshua Logan, USA, 1969, 35mm, 166 min)
This big-budget Western musical starring Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood and Jean Seberg in a ménage-à-trois was the last blast from director Joshua Logan (South Pacific).

Rain People
Mar 18 – Mar 19
(Francis Ford Coppola, USA, 1969, Beta-SP, 102 min)
Starring Shirley Knight, James Caan and Robert Duvall, Coppola’s Rain People tells the story of a pregnant Long Island housewife who journeys across America.

Putney Swope
Mar 25 – Mar 26
(Robert Downey, USA, 1969, Beta-SP, 84 min)
Robert Downey’s brazen and bizarre satire on race relations and consumerism became the first major hit from the Underground.

Fellini Satyricon
Apr 03 – Apr 07
(Federico Fellini, Italy, 1969, 35mm, 128 min)
Fellini’s tumultuous work of art looks at ancient Rome as it has never been seen before.

The Damned
Apr 03 – Apr 07
(Luchino Visconti, Italy, 1969, 35mm, 156 min)
The Damned is a devastating account of the rise of fascism in 1930s Germany.

First Charge Of The Machete
Apr 08 – Apr 09
(Manuel Octavio Gómez, Cuba, 1969, Beta-SP, 84 min)
Cuban director Gómez combines elements of documentary form with extreme stylization in this experimental retelling of a battle between Cuban rebels and the Spanish army in 1868.

Take The Money And Run
May 01 – May 07
(Woody Allen, USA, 1969, 35mm, 85min)
Woody Allen’s first film as director-writer-actor is a hilarious mock documentary (one of the earliest examples of the genre) that follows the life and failed career of an utterly inept criminal named Virgil Starkweather.

Can Hieronymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe And Find True Happiness?
May 01 – May 07
(Anthony Newley, USA, 1969, 35mm, 107 min)
An entertaining disaster, this X-rated musical comedy is the autobiographical magnum opus of its writer-director-composer-star Anthony Newley. Hieronymus has recently turned 40 and watches a film of his own life unspool before his eyes.

The Virgin’s Bed (Le Lit de la Vierge)
New 35mm Print
May 06 – May 07
(Philippe Garrel, France, 1969, 35mm, 114 min)
Made without a script and under the influence of LSD, director Philippe Garrel’s parable about Jesus is set in modern times and conveyed in an episodic and nonlinear narrative.

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
Jun 19 – Jun 25
(Paul Mazursky, USA, 1969, 35mm, 104 min)
What happens when the sexual revolution hits affluent bourgeois life? Paul Mazursky’s comedy of manners has its protagonists torn between the new hedonism of the late 60s and the domestic status quo.

My Night At Maud’s
Jun 19 – Jun 25
(Eric Rohmer, France, 1969, 35mm, 105 min)
In this brilliant centerpiece of Eric Rohmer’s “Moral Tales” series, Jean-Louis Trintignant plays one of the great conflicted figures of 1960s cinema — a pious Catholic engineer in his early thirties who vows to wed the delicate blonde Françoise only to have his rigid ethical standards challenged when he unwittingly spends the night at the apartment of a bold, brunette divorcée, Maud.

Duet for Cannibals
Jun 24 – Jun 25
(Susan Sontag, Sweden, 1969, 35mm, 105 min)
The directorial debut of famed American writer, philosopher, and political activist Susan Sontag is an intriguing tale of two couples involved in academia and politics.

Spring passes and individual tickets will be available online beginning February 20.

Agnes Varda and Susan Sontag at 1969 NYFF

February 12, 2009

This Friday we open Agnes Varda’s LIONS LOVE as part of our 69 series. A film rarely seen in the US, it did however screen at the New York Film Festival in 1969. Also screening in the festival and a as part of our program was Susan Sontag’s DUET FOR CANNIBALS. Varda and Sontag were interviewed together for New York television by Jack Kroll during the NYFF. Below you’ll find excerpts of those interviews.

Distributor of Avant-Garde Films Threatened With Eviction

February 12, 2009

If you haven’t read the article in the NY Times about the possible
eviction of the Film-Makers Cooperative (Jonas Mekas is at the helm),
please see

The Film-Makers Cooperative is an invaluable cultural resource. It would
be a crushing loss to anyone who appreciates American and European
Avant-Garde film.  I would encourage anyone who is
familiar with the film cooperative and Jonas Mekas’ work to do the same.
If not, read the letter below. If you’ve heard of Joseph Cornell, Maya
Deren, and Stan Brakhage, their original prints are part of that
collection. Apparently, the Andy Warhol museum, AFI, NY public library
have also written letters. It can’t hurt for them to hear from our film

And this from Film-Makers’ Coop
Dear Friends and Members of the Film-Makers’ Cooperative:
We have received an eviction notice and are trying to appeal to the Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin to support our efforts to remain either in our current building or to move to another, affordable city space. You can write to Kate D. Levin directly at

The more letters that are received on our behalf, the better!

Of course, we are working with legal counsel. The FMC Board of Directors, and M.M. Serra will continue to keep you informed. Any questions you have, please call the FMC office at 212-267-5665.

If you don’t have time to read the article in the NY Times, here’s an
“Founded in 1962 by a group of experimental filmmakers that included Mr.
Mekas, the Film-Makers’ Cooperative now holds a collection of about
5,000 titles made by some 900 artists. Most of the work is by Americans,
but the archive also includes some hard-to-find foreign works from
periods as early as 1920s Dada and German experimentalism. Directors of
noncommercial experimental films typically deposit copies of their work
with the cooperative, which then rents them to museums, universities,
libraries and galleries in the United States and abroad.The organization
also repairs and restores films made in formats ranging from eight
millimeter to video, and in some cases has the only known copy of a work.”

Oh Lucy, Where Are You?

February 11, 2009


Why isn’t the Seattle filmgoing community all abuzz about Northwest director Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy? It topped Film Comment’s year-end list of theatrical releases, made it to #4 on the indieWIRE 2008 Critics Poll, and has been nominated for two major Spirit Awards. But it didn’t get here until 2009, which pretty much kept it out of our best-of-2008 gabfest. Too bad, because it’s a gem, and deserves a better run that it’s got here so far. Thus NWFF is picking it up for five days, starting Friday.

The story is simple: A young woman (Michelle Williams), on her way to Alaska where she hopes to find work, is stranded in a small Oregon town when her car, which is also her home, breaks down. At the same time, she is briefly detained by the law, and her dog, Lucy, disappears. The film is driven by the suspense of problems which might seem small to some, but are huge to Wendy: How much will it cost to get her car fixed? Where will she sleep? What happened to Lucy?

I knew that Wendy and Lucy would be well-made and compelling, and it is. But I didn’t expect to be so affected by Wendy’s situation, which is similar to the low wage workers in Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Nickeled and Dimed, who end up living in shabby motels because they can never manage to put together a security deposit. Wendy has just enough cash and other resources to think she has options, but we can see they are actually few. Some critics have commented on her “poor choices” or “lack of sense.” I felt only compassion for her, though, and reserved my judgment for the film’s other characters, who have the power (whether they know it or not) to make Wendy’s life a little better, or a lot worse.