Archive for September, 2009

The best show this year happened 35 years ago.

September 30, 2009

A quick note to those folks who were at our special Texas edition of “You’re Lookin’ At Country” to witness the rare screening of what is likely one of the best concert films ever…
H O L Y S * * T ! Thanks for being with us for a perfect evening of drinks, music, and an amazing and rare cinematic gem featuring Willie, Waylon, and so many others at their best-er-um…most free-wheelin’. Unforgettable performances, and of course the astonishingly sloshed emcee, Leon Russell. Leon: “I do drink—some of us got to.” Willie: “Or else it won’t get done.” Special thanks to all of the Texas transplants in the house, including our guest musician Ian Moore who shared songs and stories before the film, and a bunch of folks in the audience (including me, filmmaker Jennifer Maas, and even a couple of folks who were there at the concert in ’74.) If you weren’t there, I can’t even begin to convey to you the joy of this night. All I can say is: Goodnight Irene.


Local Sightings spotlight: The Mountain, the River and the Road

September 30, 2009

We are pleased to include Mike Harring’s The Mountain, the River and the Road as this year’s opening night film at Local Sightings (and tickets are selling fast, so I’d get yours now).

Here’s the description:

The latest of Seattle’s forays into the new talkies drably bestowed with the moniker “mumblecore” stars some of the genre’s finest, Justin Rice (Mutual Appreciation, Alexander The Last), Tipper Newton (LOL, Hannah Takes The Stairs) and Joe Swanberg (Nights and Weekends, LOL). Born out of a chance encounter at our 2007 Local Sightings, Michael Harring’s 16mm feature debut finds Jeff (Rice) as his parents are kicking him out of the house. Faced with an uncertain future, Jeff starts out on a road trip to Austin, TX with his friend, Tom (Swanberg) who’s also escaping his own relationship problems. Half way through the journey Tom jets to sort out issues with his girl friend while Jeff decides to stay behind in the town of Kernville, CA in hopes that he will be struck with inspiration as he avoids the pressures of home. Unfortunately, all he ends up doing is wandering the sleepy small town and watching daytime television. Then one day, after locking himself out of his motel room, Jeff meets the beautiful Cat (Newton), a chainsaw- toting rural gal who happens to work at the front desk of the motel. After some of the genre’s finest moments of early relationship stumbling, it’s beginning to seem like Jeff just might stay on, but with Tom returning and reality setting in, could this be a life developing, or is he still just putting off his future? The Mountain, The River and The Road is a beautifully shot debut from another of Seattle’s up and coming talents.

One of the most exciting parts about this film is the story behind it’s creation. For those of you wondering if you really will connect with other filmmakers at Northwest Film Forum or Local Sightings, read what director Mike Harring has to say:

For the past ten years, the Northwest Film Forum has helped me with grants to make my films, but the most unique way they helped me was by solving a casting dilemma. I had cast two of my three lead roles, but despite several casting calls in Seattle and Los Angeles, I just never found my perfect Tom. When the opening night party for Local Sightings 2007 rolled around, I was about two months from shooting, and I had no idea how I was going to cast this role.

Still, when Joe Swanberg, filmmaker and Local Sightings judge, passed me in the lobby of the NWFF, I really only intended to tell him how much I admired his work. I never expected that our conversation would end with me offering him the part and he seriously considering it. It also helped that my girlfriend, Kirsten Barber, who would play Tom’s girlfriend in the movie, told him he would be absolutely perfect. She has a way of putting things that makes it hard to say no.

A day later, after Joe read the script, he called to tell me he’d do it. I got lucky, sure, but you need that opportunity before you can get lucky and that’s what the NWFF provides. The NWFF is a crucial part of having a thriving filmmaking community in Seattle; they provide a venue where local filmmakers can meet each other as well as visiting filmmakers.

This is just one example of why it’s important for us local filmmakers to get out there and participate in the events at the NWFF. I hope you can make it out to this year’s opening night film, my film, The Mountain, The River and The Road and to this year’s opening night party. Stop what you’re doing and come out and have a good time. Who knows, it could end with you finding the final crucial member of your dream cast.

The Mountain, the River and the Road plays Local Sightings October 2 at 7pm (as is followed by the Big Opening Night Party).

The Bergman Auction Update

September 29, 2009

Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman’s Laterna Magica

A full list of items from Ingmar Bergman’s (whose film Passion of Anna screens in our 69 program in November) estate on auction can be found here

An account of the offering from the New Yorker

Word is in from our far-flung correspondent, Willing Davidson, formerly a colleague here on the editorial staff and now living in Stockholm, about what transpired at yesterday’s auction of Ingmar Bergman’s belongings:

Bukowskis, despite its dubious name, is probably the foremost Swedish auction house. It was packed yesterday, just overwhelmed with people in its quite small auction room. Viewing had been going on for the previous four days, and we had gone on Friday. The excitement came not only from seeing Bergman’s possessions all laid out, but also because the auctioneers had placed very low estimates on everything. So, as we wandered around, we thought it possible that we might get to take something home on Monday, like two stopwatches, estimate between two hundred to three hundred crowns, or thirty to forty dollars, or even this woodcut of the Seventh Seal, estimate between four to five hundred crowns, or fifty-five to seventy dollars. More eager previewers sat down at his two pianos and played some appropriately elegiac music.

They were even auctioning his two Mercedes—this one will be familiar to viewers of the documentary Bergman Island, when Bergman drives around his home island of Fårö in it.

Swedes, being shy, don’t excuse themselves when they push past you, so after getting our paddle, my girlfriend and I spent half an hour before the auction trying to stand our ground as the hordes swarmed the auction house. The first item was a print of Bergman’s famous magic lantern, estimated at three to four thousand crowns. The “klubbat pris,” or hammer price: twenty-seven thousand. And so it went. The actual magic lantern went for five hundred thousand crowns, and the chess set for a million. I left after half an hour, but Alison stayed for a while longer. Later, we watched it online as it went into its eighth hour. Our stopwatches were klubbed for eighty-two thousand crowns. Everyone wants a piece.

The total take was about $2.56 million. Christie’s took bids on his houses on Fårö during the summer, and their sale will be concluded soon; the Swedish government, which wished to turn one of them into the site of a cultural center devoted to Bergman, is not happy about it.

And this from the AP

Bergman items sold at auction in Sweden


STOCKHOLM — A chipped and incomplete chess set believed to have featured in one of Ingmar Bergman’s best known films fetched one of the highest bids at a special auction for the late director’s belongings, auction house officials said Tuesday.

The set, which had been valued at around 10,000-15,000 kronor ($1,430-$2,150), sold for 1 million kronor ($142,000), said Charlotte Bergstrom, a spokeswoman at Bukowskis in Stockholm. It is missing a white king and is believed to have been used in “The Seventh Seal,” one of Bergman’s most famous films.

“In one part of the film, Max von Sydow sweeps his mantle over the table and the (chess) pieces fall to the ground and you can see that the white king breaks into pieces,” Bergstrom said.

Bergstrom said the auction began Monday and lasted for more than nine hours, ending in the early hours of Tuesday and garnering a total of 17.9 million kronor ($2.6 million).

All 337 objects, including Bergman’s wastebasket, writing desk and Golden Globe awards, were sold. A red-painted, devil-shaped jumping jack — given to Bergman by his grandson Ola — was auctioned for 29,000 kronor ($4,100).

A wooden model of Stockholm’s Royal Dramatic Theater with a tiny model of the legendary director sitting inside it, scored the highest bid: 1.03 million kronor ($147,500). Bergman headed the theater for several years in the mid-1960s.

Bergstrom called the auction “historic,” saying that even though the hammer prices were expected to be higher than estimates, they still exceeded expectations. “And because it’s him, Ingmar Bergman, it inflates the prices a bit, of course.”

The proceeds will go to Bergman’s family, Bergstrom said.

In the four days the objects were showcased before the auction, Bukowskis received more than 8,000 visitors. The auction house’s Web site tallied more than 5,000 hits a day from 116 countries, Bergstrom said.

According to the auction house, Bergman insisted in his will that his assets be auctioned off to prevent them from being caught up in “some kind of emotional hullabaloo.”

Bergman died July 30 at age 89 in his home on the Baltic Sea islet of Faro. His films won numerous international awards, including best foreign film Oscars for “The Virgin Spring,” “Through a Glass Darkly” and “Fanny and Alexander.”

His 84-acre (34-hectare) Faro property is also up for sale in a process managed by Christie’s Great Estates in London.

Local Sightings spotlight: River Ways

September 29, 2009

There are a lot of very different programs in this year’s Local Sightings Film Festival. So, for the next few days leading up to the festival, I thought I’d spotlight a few movies and events to make sure nothing gets lost in all the excitement.

Today, it’s River Ways. This documentary film about the salmon runs and dam controversy in Eastern Washington does a truly impressive job of making the issue personal, understandable, and (important in a movie) a compelling story. Don’t miss it. You will listen to the news and regional politics – not just regarding fisheries and conservation – in a very different way. Plus, for those of you interested in the recent local agriculture movement, there’s a fascinating profile and opinion piece from a Washington state farmer (who you just might have met last year at the Puyallup Fair).

The film’s website has not been updated to list Local Sightings (boo), but you can see the crazy long list of all the other places nowhere near Washington state that deemed the film worthy of a screening here. (That is, the film has interest and merit beyond just being about issues in the Northwest.)

Here’s the description:

“River Ways” explores the lives of regular working people affected by the issue of whether to remove four dams on the Snake River in Eastern Washington. Environmental groups and fishing interests criticize the dams for their negative impact on salmon populations, but agricultural communities dependent on the dams oppose efforts to remove them. Combining interviews with careful everyday observation, and set against the scenic backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, “River Ways” introduces us to a
set of characters with a surprisingly complex mix of perspectives. Frank Sutterlict, a Native American fisherman living in an encampment on the Columbia River, struggles to make ends meet in the face of dwindling salmon numbers. Ben Barstow, a family farmer in Washington, fears the effect of dam removal on his already marginal business. And Mark Ihander, a commercial fisherman, hangs on to an industry in economic decline. Other subjects include environmental activists, irrigators, sport fishermen, and salmon biologists. What emerges is a complex portrait of an issue that reaches to the heart of the ideological differences that characterize and divide the Pacific Northwest, and
indeed many environmental issues throughout the world.

And, from the press kit, here’s the director’s statement from Colin Stryker:

I first came across the issue of the Snake River dams in an environmental magazine in October of 2000. At the time, I was saving up some money for my first independent feature, kicking around some ideas, working on a few screenplays. When I read the article, I was immediately struck by the complexity of the issue, the variety of interest groups affected, and the depth of the emotions at stake. Within this seemingly
simple question of whether or not to remove several remote dams, lurked some powerful ideas about our use of natural resources in modern society, the relationship between our rural and urban sector, and our treatment of and obligations to Native Americans. I knew almost instantly that this was the topic about which I wanted to make my first feature film. I decided right away that the film had to be personal. What interested me about the topic was the way it lay at the intersection of a complex environmental issue – with all the corresponding political, economic, and social factors – and the very fundamental concept of ordinary people going about their lives and livelihoods.

This would not be a film that used a purely analytical approach – with lots of graphics, talking heads, and narration – but rather would pry into the nuanced, organic perspectives of those who had the most at stake in the issue. By getting to know the people affected by the issue, we would come to know the issue at its most sublime and visceral level. I also knew that the film had to be neutral with regard to the removal of the dams. Regardless of my own feelings on the issue, what interested about it was the variety of perspectives the issue represented, and how this reflected on society’s approach to environmental issues to begin with. The true understanding of the
issue that I sought would only be arrived at by presenting each of these perspectives with proper respect and sensitivity.

In November of 2000, while living in Los Angeles, I began a series of self-funded trips to the Pacific Northwest, to gather information about the issue, meet some of the characters involved, and develop a visual sense of the region, which I had never before visited. My goal ultimately was to find particular individuals who would represent the various interest groups involved. I would follow these individuals for a year, seeking not just to elicit their opinions about the Snake River dams, but to get a glimpse into their
lives and the stake they had in the issue. It took a great deal of perseverance, calling in favors, and many miles on my car to find folks who would allow me to document their lives for a year. But by the end of 2002, I had my subjects chosen. I packed up everything and moved to Portland, which would be my home base from which to make the film.

River Ways plays Local Sightings Tuesday, October 6 at 7pm. Get your tickets here.

AP Polanski Update

September 29, 2009

Roman Polanski arrested in Switzerland

September 27, 2009

Another chapter in his unbelievable life story:

Roman Polanski arrested in Switzerland over sex with underage girl
Roman Polanski, th Oscar-winning director, faces extradition to the US after being arrested in Zurich on a 31-year-old arrest warrant for having sex with an under-age girl

He was in the Swiss City for the Zurich Film Festival and due to receive an award on Sunday.

But detectives took the 76-year-old into custody after raiding his hotel.

The Swiss justice ministry said on Sunday that Mr Polanski was being held under a 2005 international alert issued by the US government related to a 1978 arrest warrant.

He will not be sent to the US until extradition proceedings were complete, the ministry added.

He can contest his detention and any extradition decision in the Swiss courts.

Polanski was arrested in the late 1970s and charged with giving drugs and alcohol to a 13-year-old girl and having unlawful sex with her at Jack Nicholson’s Hollywood home. He maintained that the girl was sexually experienced and had consented.

Polanski pleaded guilty to having unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and spent 42 days in prison undergoing psychiatric tests. He fled the country in 1978 before being sentenced.

Two months ago Polanski asked a California appeals court to overturn a judge’s refusal to consider his request to throw out a 1977 case in which he pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Judge Peter Espinoza agreed there was misconduct by the judge in the original case, but said Mr Polanski must return to the US to apply for dismissal.

The victim at the centre of the case, Samantha Geimer, has previously asked for the charges to be dropped, saying the continued publication of details “causes harm to me, my husband and children”.

Polanski, who now lives permanently in Paris, is considered an international fugitive.

His Oscar for directing the 2002 The Pianist was collected by Harrison Ford, who had previously starred in his 1988 thriller, Frantic.

A statement from the organisers of the film festival stated: “Roman Polanski, one of the greatest film directors of our time, would have received an award for his life’s achievement at the Zurich Film Festival.

France’s culture minister says he is “dumbfounded” by the arrest. of the director, who is a french citizen.

Frederic Mitterrand said he “strongly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already experienced so many of them”.

Peter Rose’s Animation

September 25, 2009

Experimental filmmaker Peter Rose uses flashlights and stripped-down video projectors to make the mundane gorgeous.

Exploits modified flashlights to explore the visual complexities of the ordinary world. All images were shot in real time; there is no animation.

If you like crafting, knitting, sewing or DIY stuff…

September 25, 2009

…you should probably buy your tickets now to Handmade Nation.

The whole Seattle crafting community has come out to support the screening – including Pacific Fabrics, I Heart Rummage (more on this below), Stitches, Schmancy, Hollow Earth Radio, Plush You! and Urban Craft Uprising.

And here’s a bit on I Heart Rummage:

I Heart Rummage is Seattle’s longest running cutting edge urban craft experience!

Located at Capitol Hill’s Chop Suey! 1325 E. Madison, Seattle
Join IHR Sunday October 4th!

IHR features 40+ of Seattle’s most innovative indie designers and urban crafters

at Chop Suey from 12-4pm the first Sunday of most every month.

Be sure to stop by October 4th and shop the best variety of urban crafts, and hear DJ Huggy, our live house DJ, spin his tracks!

Our special guests for October are Ruby Room and NW Film Forum

IHR always has the latest and greatest in urban crafts!


The first Sunday of most every month

Chop Suey

1325 E. Madison, Seattle, WA

Great “Over the Edge” making-of piece

September 24, 2009

I am a huge fan of the teen riot genre, and (with exception of Rebel Without a Cause, of course) the granddaddy of them all, the one with which all teen riot flicks would afterwards always be compared, is of course Over the Edge.

We showed the film way back when in January 2005. Vice Magazine just published this great behind-the-scenes tell all that I highly reccommend, for fans of the genre or otherwise!

OVER THE EDGE: An Oral History of the Greatest Teen Rebellion Movie of All Time

(I do take slight issue with the article’s repeated comment about how the film is about kids who are bored, so bored they resort to violence for something to do. I think the heart of a good teen riot movie is that it is about kids that are frustrated, frustrated with their parents, their teachers, the cops. They aren’t being listened to or taken seriously, and they see the adults being a party of the system they reject and don’t want to grow into, so they only way to get attention is through violence. But, I digress…)

Local Sightings schedule posted!

September 23, 2009

Northwest Film Forum presents

Local Sightings 2009

Local Sightings

Join us for the 12th annual celebration of Northwest filmmaking!

October 2-7 at Northwest Film Forum

Local Sightings is the premier showcase of Northwest filmmaking. The festival features an array of feature, documentary and short films, great prizes, filmmaker parties, archival Northwest films and an impressive national film industry jury looking for strong Northwest work. And don’t miss our legendary opening party that will ignite Seattle’s film scene Friday night and keep it bleary eyed Saturday morning.

If you prefer the home-grown to the over-blown, Local Sightings is for you!

View the Local Sightings 2009 complete schedule

Tickets go on sale Friday, September 25 at 9am.

Local Sightings 2009 highlights include:

The Mountain, the River and the Road

Opening night film!

October 2 at 7pm

Born out of a chance encounter at our 2007 Local Sightings, Michael Harring’s 16mm feature debut stars Joe Swanberg (Hannah Takes the Stairs) and Justin Rice (Mutual Appreciation), two twenty-somethings on a botched road trip that leads to an unexpected romance.

Big Opening Night Party

October 2, beginning at 9pm

A fundraiser for Northwest Film Forum

$5/members, $7/non-members

Seattle filmmakers, movie buffs and partiers walk the red carpet at NWFF’s annual opening night bash. With booze flowing, music blaring, and performances tickling the eyes and imaginations, we begin our 12th Annual Local Sightings Festival in stylish debauchery.

Film Originals, the work of George and Helen Smith

Century 20 – Historic Northwest Film

October 5 at 7pm

George and Helen Smith made films together for over thirty years. George worked behind the camera as cinematographer and editor, while Helen wrote scripts for the nearly 40 titles they produced under the name Film Originals. Their films focused on a variety of topics including the rise of aeronautics in American transportation, the Northwest timber industry, and environmental conservation.

Work in Progress: Wheedles Groove

October 3 at 7pm

Jennifer Maas’ work in progress Wheedle’s Groove provides a look back some thirty years before grunge music put Seattle on the map, when late 1960s groups like Black on White Affair, The Soul Swingers, and Cold, Bold & Together filled airwaves and packed clubs every night of the week. But just as many of the groups were on the verge of breaking out, the fickle public turned its ear to disco, and Seattle’s soul scene slipped into obscurity.

Find out more at!

Sponsored by 4Culture, ArtsFund, Modern Digital, Bad Animals, and Washington FilmWorks

Media sponsorship by KUOW 94.9FM and The Stranger


Most screenings are $6/NWFF members, $6.50/seniors and children under 12, $9/general