Archive for January, 2010

The end of Miramax?

January 29, 2010

Rumors abound, but meanwhile the doors have closed at the Weinstein-less Miramax, run by Disney until yesterday. It’s been a long time since the risky, ruthless early days of Bob and “Harvey Scissorhands,” when the Miramax logo meant bold, new indie achievements (and often box office hits) but is this really the end of the Miramax brand?

Curtain comes down on Miramax

It’s the saddest of endings for Miramax.

The pioneering art-house studio behind “Pulp Fiction,” “Shakespeare in Love” and “The Piano” officially shut its doors yesterday, after three decades as a force for independent film.

Walt Disney Co. closed Miramax’s offices in New York and Los Angeles and laid off about 80 people. The fate of the studio’s six yet-to-be-released films is unknown.

Read more:


Looking for another great intern

January 28, 2010

I don’t know how we do it, but somehow the Film Forum manages to attract the best interns in town. Alas, another one must leave us, so it’s time to put out the search again.

This quarter’s administrative intern will be able to work on producing our annual fundraising gala, making it a great opportunity for someone interested in special event planning or fundraising.

Administrative Internship

Northwest Film Forum, a Seattle non-profit arts organization running two cinemas, producing films, aiding filmmakers and offering film workshops, seeks part-time administrative interns.

Interns will work in the Northwest Film Forum office, the nerve center of the organization, closely interacting with all members of the staff. As NWFF has a salaried staff of eight running over 250 programs a year, interns will be expected to execute vital, hands-on tasks that intersect with every aspect of the organization. A passion for film is essential. Knowledge of film production or exhibition is encouraged, but not required. Candidates must have basic computer skills, be personable, self motivated, and excellent communicators, and able to complete tasks assigned.

This is a non-paid, quarterly internship. This position requires a minimum three month commitment for 20 hours a week. Schedule is negotiable, but is on site at NWFF during business hours: Monday-Friday, 10-6pm.

Interns will be part of the core team growing Northwest Film Forum, and the opportunity to meet and interact with dozens of local and visiting filmmakers. Interns will have access to unlimited free movies at NWFF cinemas, space-available access to film production and editing gear, film workshops, and invitations to our film festivals and fabulous parties. Upon completion, deserving interns are provided a letter of recommendation by the Volunteer Coordinator or appropriate staff member.

Specific Job Responsibilities Include:
– Working approximately 20 hours in the administrative office, fielding phone calls, helping staff members with general office duties, mailings, data entry and answering questions from walk-in customers
– Check in and out filmmaking equipment
– Work on fundraisers and other special events
– Workshop signup
– Distribution of NWFF promotional materials
– Cinema housekeeping
– Task priority management

And for those with the appropriate abilities
– Help with fundraising
– Guest relations
– Equipment and editing troubleshooting
– Marketing and Graphic Design

This position is open until filled.
Students interested in film or non profit management are encouraged to apply.

Send a letter of interest, resume and three references to

Conversation of The Apes

January 28, 2010

As reported on Publicola yetserday, we’ve cancelled our screening of PLANET OF THE APES. It was a descion we made in the spirit of the community at large. We’ve encouraged the panelists to submit future posts on this matter to our blog, and hope to hear more from you, the film goer, on this issue.

Filmmaker Magazine’s Best 25 of the Decade

January 28, 2010

Just came around to seeing this list now, so this is a bit late-breaking, but it’s still worth a mention since there are two local films on there – James Longley’s Iraq In Fragments, and Robinson Devor’s Zoo.

Read the whole list here.

Thirteen Ways of Looking At Railroads

January 27, 2010

“The film is called RR, but I like to call it ‘Railroad,’ because RR sounds like a pirate movie.” – James Benning

James Benning’s RR , screening next Wed, is a tribute to American freight infrastructure, an homage to the glorified visions of rail in the 20th century, and an embodiment of 21st century concerns about consumption, James Benning’s new feature consists in forty-three long takes of trains passing through frames at varying speeds. Encompassing towns and cities, oceans and rivers, mountains and deserts, salt flats and cornfields, the whole is a magnificent portrait of America’s landscapes that firmly secures its creator’s place as one of this country’s preeminent filmmakers.

The folks over at Long Pauses offer us 13 ways of looking at Benning’s film, or a great primer for this rather magnificent recent film.

1. As Documentary – The opening shot of RR divides the frame precisely down the middle. A train passes to our left, beginning at a vanishing point in the exact center of the screen, and on the right is a commercial street in a small American town. The road runs parallel with the tracks, and a few small buildings stand on its opposite side. Between the road and the tracks is a gravel area where several cars are parked, each one facing the road.I remember these details because the train takes several minutes to pass — time during which we’re allowed to simply study the image. Little changes until, finally, a truck comes driving up the road from the bottom-right corner of the frame and parks in the gravel. However, instead of pulling forward a few feet of the spot and then backing into it, as I would have, the driver saves time by driving directly into the lot, swinging around in a wide arc and then pulling into his spot from behind. That’s when you notice that all of the cars are parked at the same slight angle, that they’ve all followed that same arc, that this is how things are done in this particular town.

2. As Autobiography – My father is a lifelong model railroader and train enthusiast who grew up in a town much like the one in Benning’s opening shot. Because I was raised in quiet suburbs, the sight or sound of a passing train never went unnoticed. On family vacations, we would go out of our way to see them, and he would patiently describe what we were looking at, snapping photos as he made his way around. Both homes Joanna and I have owned have been within earshot of tracks, so now the sound reminds me of laying in bed with her with the windows open. RR takes as a given that each viewer will share some form of this nostalgia.

3. As History – In one of the other 40 or so shots that make up RR, Benning takes a high-angle perspective on a rusted trestle spanning a wooded chasm. Even with modern metals and engineering, it’s an impressive feat. But the railroad is 19th century technology, and similar chasms had to be spanned a century-and-a-half ago.

4. As Visual Field – The day before the screening of RR, in another of the Wavelengths programs, we watched four of T. Marie’s Optra Field films, which use digitally-rendered lines of black and white to create a “visual mantra” that operates on the optic nerve. RR, at some times more that others, achieves the same effect. After watching a long freight train bisect the frame from right to left, for example, I discovered that my eyes had become so conditioned to that movement that, when the train finally exited, the distant landscape would appear to contract and sway for several seconds.

5. As Economics – Unless I’m mistaken, every train in RR is carrying freight. Perhaps as many as a third are pulling flatbeds loaded with shipping containers that were, presumably, lifted directly from the ships that had, presumably, trekked across the Pacific — all cogs in the machine necessary to bring us our stuff and keep the economy moving. Not coincidentally, we see only one face in the entire film.

6. As Canvas – While Benning has limited his subject, by and large, to rural areas of the American West here, there are tokens of urban life throughout the film. Nearly every train has been tagged by graffiti artists, and the beauty and variety on display is impressive. A moving gallery.

7. As Noise

8. As Music

9. As Americana — Benning also uses sound collage to invoke the railroad’s place in America’s cultural and political life. I don’t recall every clip, but the three I recognized are: the call of a baseball game (judging by the names I picked out, it would have been a playoff game from the mid-’90s), Eisenhower’s farewell address (with its famous warning against the growing military-industrial complex), and Woody Guthrie singing “This Land is Your Land.”

10. As Technology – In nearly every shot, the train splices through natural beauty. The film’s formal structure creates multivalent meanings in these images, though. This is human achievement and progress (if such a word can still be used without being overwhelmed by irony), but it’s also loss and tragedy.

11. As Design – Beauty and affect arise out of great design, I think, when a satisfying tension is achieved between order and disorder. Each gives meaning to the other. Benning’s greatest formal achievement in RR is at the level of individual shot, where he discovers impossible order in every composition. Few still images from the film are available, but I plan to create a couple line-drawing representations and add them here after I get home. He find symmetry, horizons, right angles, and Cubist-like intersections in the unlikeliest of places.

12. As PedagogyRR would be invaluable in a classroom. Along with teaching us how to look, generally, it teaches the fundamentals of composition, perspective, and montage better than any text I’ve read (not to mention its value as a doorway into discussion of any number of social, historical, and political subjects, as I’ve tried to demonstrate here).

13. As Farewell to Film – Benning has said RR marks the end of his 30-year career shooting on film. How fitting, then, that his final shot would be of a train coming to a stop. Since the Lumiere’s Arrival of a Train (1895), filmmakers have been fascinated by railroads. It’s even a running theme at TIFF this year, where both Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy and Claire Denis’s 35 Rhums feature sequences at rail yards. RR ends with an extreme long shot of a freight train passing through a landscape dominated by massive wind turbines. The train cars, as they stream by, look uncannily like frames of film, and the turbines spin slowly like the reels of a projector. The train comes to a stop as the last few feet of 16mm celluloid work through the mechanism behind us. There are no end credits, so the print in the final seconds is scratched and scarred, a physical reminder of what we’ll lose in our digital century.

Children’s Film Fest photos posted

January 25, 2010

Pancake Breakfast

Originally uploaded by nwfilmforum

Check out some Pancake Breakfast shots and some pictures from opening night with Lelavision at our Flickr page.

There’s also a set from our Children’s Jury captain Stephen Fisher over at his Facebook page.

“Policebeat” in the Top 10 Sundance Fiction Films of the Decade

January 25, 2010

So says Dennis Lim!

“Robinson Devor’s gorgeous reverie pairs the lovelorn interior monologue of a Senegalese Seattle cop with the alternately mundane and surreal happenings of his typical work week. A cop movie unlike any you’ve ever seen, it casts a sad, dreamy spell that matches its lonely hero’s sense of disconnection.”

Read his entire list here.

Benefit Screening For Haiti

January 22, 2010

When we heard about the earthquake in Haiti we immediately contacted our friend Michelange Quay whose film Eat For This is My Body we screened in ALTERNATE CINEMA a few years back to see how his friends and family were. In our discussions we proposed screening his film as a benefit. He thought it was a wonderful idea and after working out some logistics, we’re pleased to announce  that Northwest Film Forum joins the Haitian earthquake relief effort by hosting a benefit screening of Quay’s Eat For This is My Body Thursday, January 28 at 7:00pm. The film combines elegant lyrical surrealism and restrained fury in a political pamphlet that sends the viewer on a visceral, hypnotic trip to the spiritual core of the suffering of Haiti.

Madame has come to feed the starving black masses and they have come to be fed. This hunger, this desire will bring Madame out into the real Haiti, where she will for the first time see and hear the land and its people, smell the reality of their suffering, the reality of her own body. She will at last touch, and be touched.

Proceeds from the screening willgo to benefit the city of Jacmel, home to Hati’s Cine Institute, which was hit very hard by the massive earthquake. The Cine Institute is organizing and partnering with many aid organizations and their students are actively documenting the events throughout much of Haiti.

Tickets to the screening are $10, and additional donations can be made by clicking here. 100% of donations from our screening go directly to relief efforts and news coverage from Jacmel.

Listen to the As It Happens podcast on the Cine Institute’s efforts here.


January 21, 2010

In other digital news… Indiewire reports today that our very own Linas Phillips will release BASS ACKWARDS, which premieres at Sundance on Saturday, via YouTube Rentals tomorrow, in advance of the premiere. The film will be available only during the festival for a $3.99 three-day rental price.  I know how I’ll be spending part of my time this weekend.

Our website is not completely down…

January 20, 2010

But it is being realllllly slow to load. Sorry everyone! Keep hitting refresh and bear with us while we figure out what is going on.

Did I mention we are in need a of a website manager? Email me if you know Ruby on Rails.