Posts Tagged ‘local sightings film festival’

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.

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

What’s new for the ‘What’s in the Barn?’ Team?

June 1, 2009

Here’s an update on the 2006 Local Sightings Film Festival short film winners:

May 30, 2009 in Washington Voices
Spokane filmmakers let their imaginations run wild
Jennifer Larue

If you didn’t know what was going on, your imagination would certainly run wild. Their hours are sporadic, not 9-to-5, and they are often carrying odd things like a stuffed chicken, a petrified squirrel or a bag of bones into the old warehouse on the North Side of Spokane.

If you go around back and peer through the fence into the yard area, piles of rusty cans and strange twisted things might make you wonder if Frankenstein’s monster is lying on a slab inside. If you are so lucky as to be spying when the back industrial door is opened and get a peek inside, you would probably think that you’re “not in Kansas anymore.”

It is recognizably a kitchen and a grand room with a fireplace, but not the kind you would find in an ordinary house; rather, in the dreams/nightmares of Tim Burton or Dr. Seuss. It is created chaos – askew, twisted and melted. It is the set made for Head Juice Production’s latest short film.

“Our current project is an attempt to channel the ideals of German expressionism into a modern work. Everything on the set was made to be recognizable but distorted and twisted, re-imagined to such a degree as to make them hardly recognizable as their functional counterparts in the real world,” said Mike Corrigan.

Corrigan, Derrick King, Travis Hiibner, and Gary McLeod are the filmmakers that make up Head Juice, a production company that began in 2004. The quartet does not work in video but film – 8mm and 16mm. “We’ve all admitted to ourselves that were it not for film, with its beautiful luminescent qualities, depth of field, serendipitous and unpredictable nature, and richness of tone, none of us would even be making films. It’s the pleasure, the thrill, the privilege of working with such a magical, physical medium that gives us the rush, and that binds us together as a filmmaking team,” Corrigan said.

The team has made a few films including “What’s in the Barn?” which won first place in a short film competition at the Northwest Film Forum in Seattle. The prize – $2,500 and some free equipment rental – has helped fund Head Juice’s recent production, which is yet to be titled. “It’s a Grimm’s style fairy tale that will incorporate many styles of filmmaking,” Hiibner said.

Working with film is more difficult than video and requires sharp filmmaking skills. Video is easier because you can do re-takes as often as needed and it’s cheaper. Film is hand-processed, often in buckets in a darkroom.

“Time and money is always an obstacle with a project – even the smallest film becomes incredibly expensive and difficult. We use equipment that barely functions and most resources that support film are not local, so Seattle is a common journey,” Hiibner said. “One thing working to our advantage is a creative bunch of friends with the same mindset and love of art. These friends are our actors, resources, and support. They are wonderful and we are forever grateful, plus they work for cheap (beer and food). Without them it just wouldn’t be possible.”

The four filmmakers are attracted to experimental/avant-garde filmmaking where rules hardly exist, giving free rein to the imagination.

“What we really love about film is that it encompasses so many different forms of art.” McLeod said. “Writing, composing music, acting, photography, painting, design and many more elements must all come together to make a strong film. Anywhere there is a weak link it really brings down the quality of the entire piece. That makes film making very challenging. What makes it rewarding is that if you do it right you will captivate people and they will be drawn in and lose themselves in your art.”

Head Juice hopes to have their experimental fairy tale completed by September.