CHS Crow | SIFF opening weekend edition at The Egytian including the first in line guy and Purple Mark

Perhaps the most telltale sign that it’s once again SIFF season on Capitol Hill are the lines of filmgoers. It has become a symbol of the annual festival to see the crowd winding down Pine and up Harvard. Meanwhile, 2015 will bring the last SIFF lines — sigh — to E Roy for the Harvard Exit’s swan song before redevelopment. Here are a few of the people we found in line this weekend. CHS roster of SIFF 2015 Capitol Hill highlights is here.

Coming out of Love & Devotion at The Egyptian Friday night

  Ralph and Dan

Ralph (center) and Dan (right), with their friend Kap (left)What brought you guys out to the festival tonight?
You know just a wild hair for tonight. Because it was beautiful out. I kind of forgot about the festival because I’d been traveling. But, now, luckily I caught it on the first night. I’m gonna see a lot more.

Dan: He sent me an email with three different movies to choose from and, I don’t know, that got us to here. I’m glad though, it was an excellent movie. Continue reading

20 years of independence at Capitol Hill’s Northwest Film Forum comes as director plans exit

Lyall Bush at the forum's 20th anniversary gala (Image: Elisa Huerta-Enochian with permission to CHS)

Lyall Bush at the NWFF’s 20th anniversary gala. He’s stepping down as director of the nonprofit in September.  (Image: Elisa Huerta-Enochian with permission to CHS)

For 20 years, the Northwest Film Forum has gathered people on Capitol Hill around a common love of making, watching, and learning about independent film and executive director Lyall Bush has been there from the beginning. After watching the NWFF grow from a small film equipment collective into an invaluable arts asset for the city and seven years of steering the ship, Bush is now planning an exit for a new director to make their mark.

Bush announced on Thursday he would be stepping down from his post this September.

“You take stock, at that point, and ask what you want to be doing, and in a sense our 20th anniversary is a good chance for the organization to hit the refresh button (so to speak) as well,” Bush told CHS in an email. “It’s a chance for the whole operation to write a new strategic plan, craft new vision, and keep independent filmmaking going for another couple of decades.”

Bush’s announcement came on the same day that writer, director, and NWFF board member Megan Griffiths was announced as the recipient of the 10th annual Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film. Griffiths’ latest film, Lucky Them, featured scenes filmed in the heart of Capitol Hill in 2013.

Even as the city’s biggest force in film seems rejuvenated and as vital as ever on Capitol Hill with its 41st annual festival kicking off here and around Seattle this week, there are no guarantees of sustainability for smaller champions of film arts.

Continue reading

SIFF 2015 will celebrate at the Egyptian with film (and Kevin Bacon), hold a few last picture shows at the Harvard Exit

With its investment to revive Capitol Hill’s Egyptian Theatre at its core and a special “24-day celebratory wake” for the dearly departed Harvard Exit, the Seattle International Film Festival has announced its 2015 lineup.

“This year’s Festival is bigger and more international than ever, with a record 92 countries represented,” SIFF artistic director Carl Spence said in the announcement detailing the 41st edition of the film festival.

Last year’s fest was highlighted by the news SIFF was signing a 10-year deal to take over E Pine’s Egyptian. This year starting May 14th, the festival will include the final screenings at the Harvard Exit theater before the venue is ripped out as part of a redevelopment of the historically protected building at Roy and Broadway.

SIFF 2015 by the numbers:  450 films / 92 countries / 193 feature films / 70 documentary features / 19 archival films / 164 short films / 4 secret films / 49 World Premieres (23 features, 26 shorts) / 51 North American Premieres (33 features, 18 shorts) / 18 US Premieres (7 features, 11 shorts)

Northwest Connections
Seattleites see more films per capita than the residents of any other American city. This year’s lineup of films with their roots in the Pacific Northwest reveals a filmmaking region officially on the map. Every year, SIFF honors the many ways in which the Puget Sound region contributes to the world of cinema, whether it’s as an evocative location for outside filmmakers or inspiration for local filmmakers on the rise.

Ronald McFondle, Eddie Van Glam, The Banana star in Bodyslam: Revenge of the Banana

Ronald McFondle, Eddie Van Glam, The Banana star in Bodyslam: Revenge of the Banana

  • Beach Town (d: Erik Hammen c: Sarah Winsor, Ahren Buhmann, Riley Neldam, Kenna Kettrick, William Poole, USA 2015, 72 min, World Premiere)
  • Bodyslam: Revenge of the Banana (d: Ryan Harvie, John Paul Hortsmann c: Ronald McFondle, Eddie Van Glam, The Banana, USA 2015, 86 min)
  • The Hollow One (d: Nathan Hendrickson c: Kate Alden, Jesse James, Chelsea Farthing, Tony Doupé, Tonya Skoog, USA 2015, 97 min, World Premiere)
  • Paper Tigers (d: James Redford, USA 2015, 102 min, World Premiere)
  • Personal Gold: An Underdog Story (d: Tamara Christopherson s: Jennie Reed, Dotsie Bausch, Sarah Hammer, USA/Spain, United Kingdom 2015, 89 min)
  • Pilchuck, A Dance with Fire (d: John Forsen v: Jeff Bridges, USA 2015, 68 min)
  • The Primary Instinct (d: David Chen f: Stephen Tobolowsky, USA 2015, 73 min, World Premiere)
  • Uncertain (d: Ewan McNichol, Anna Sandilands, USA 2015, 82 min)
  • Valley of the Sasquatch (d: John Portanova c: Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, D’Angelo Midili, Jason Vail, David Saucedo, Bill Oberst Jr., USA 2015, 92 min)
  • West of Redemption (d: Cornelia Duryee Moore c: Billy Zane, Kevin Alejandro, Mariana Klaveno, USA 2015, 90 min, World Premiere)

In addition to cinematic works large and small and from around the globe and around the Puget Sound, the festival will give Seattle celebrity spotters the opportunity to, perhaps, view A-listers Kevin Bacon and Jason Schwartzman in the wild. Bacon will be honored for career achievement (in 2014, SIFF honored CHS’s girlfriend Laura Dern) and Schwartzman will be featured in an “evening with” event in conjunction with a screening of his new film 7 Chinese Brothers.  To kick off the festival, the 2015 SIFF Opening Night gala will include a screening of Spy attended by director and writer Paul Feig.

The full announcement on SIFF 2015 is below. Tickets and passes are now on sale at siff.netContinue reading

CHS Crow | Jonti, Sam and Que — Montage of Heck edition

It’s hard to say what Kurt Cobain might have thought of it all. Maybe he would have smirked in bemusement at some point, at least. The Egyptian was sold out in advance Thursday evening for an exclusive screening of Montage of Heck, a documentary about the oft-idolized Nirvana front man Cobain, with director Brett Morgen in attendance and addressing the audience before the film. The CHS Crow stopped by and chatted with some fans of Nirvana and of what has been labeled “grunge rock” who came out to see Morgen’s patchwork portrait depicting a sensitive and troubled, driven and often vexed, artistic genius from Aberdeen, Washington.


JontiWhat did you think about the film?
I thought it was pretty enlightening, man. A lot of stuff I’ve always wondered about. Really nice.

So you grew up a Nirvana fan?
I became a Nirvana fan probably like early in high school, maybe like ’89. That’s about when I realized I loved that Kurt Cobain.

What in the film stuck out for you as being enlightening, or as giving you new insight?
His family life. I think that was the most enlightening thing. Because everything else you’ve heard before. But the fact that you got to see all that stuff behind the scenes on the family life, I think that was new. Continue reading

On the List | Cobain documentary makes exclusive weeklong run at Egyptian


Kurt Cobain committed suicide at his Lake Washington Blvd home in April 1994. For most millennials, that puts the Nirvana frontman in the realm of Seattle music legend. For those old enough to have seen Nirvana perform here, Cobain’s legacy is enriched by memories of his shows and the surreal period of time he and the city were riding the crest of pop culture.

A new documentary on Cobain, Montage of Heck, attempts to paint another portrait of the artist, expressed through home videos, animated art, and the piles of journals Cobain kept throughout his life.

Starting Thursday night, Capitol Hill will be home to a one-week exclusive theatrical run of the film at SIFF Cinema Egyptian prior to the documentary’s May 4th release on HBO.

The film premiered at the Cinerama theater Wednesday night followed by a discussion with director Brett Morgan. “As I was coming into Seattle on the plane it just felt so right. There’s no place we should be than here,” Morgan said.

More on the film — and this weekend’s lineup of Capitol Hill-area events, below. Continue reading

‘A 24-day celebratory wake’ — SIFF 2015 will include Harvard Exit

FEST2015_HarvardExit_Promo_440x300Talk about an epilogue. After burying it with a bit of an unceremonious January funeral and sorting out what comes next with its ghost, the historic Harvard Exit will make a surprise comeback for a special limited engagement this spring as part of the 41st annual Seattle International Film Festival.

SIFF announced the plans Thursday to incorporate the Roy at Broadway venue slated for redevelopment as a preservation-friendly office and food+drink project. Work is slated to begin on the 1925-built building this summer with new tenants moving in by early 2016.

Developer Scott Shapiro paid $2.35 million for the building in a deal that closed in January according to King County Records.

“The Harvard Exit is one of my favorite SIFF venues,” SIFF artistic director Carl Spence is quoted as saying the announcement. “I’m thrilled that we have the opportunity to properly say goodbye to this important cinematic institution by throwing a 24-day celebratory wake.”

SIFF’s longtime technical provider and sponsor, McRae Theatrical, will install a temporary “state-of-the-art digital projection and sound system” for the festival run.

In 2014, SIFF took over E Pine’s Egyptian Theatre and will also continue to include that venue in the film festival.

The full announcement on the 2015 festival is below. As part of the announcement, SIFF is offering a set of deals on ticket packages for the festival. Continue reading

On the List | Seattle Asian Film Festival, John Criscitello show, Neighbor Appreciation Day, Letters Aloud at 12th Ave Arts

MV5BMjI2NzQxNDEzMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTg1MTU0MjE@._V1_SX214_AL_12th Ave’s Northwest Film Forum hosts the 2015 Seattle Asian Film Festival this weekend featuring 38 works including “the best in recent independent cinema by and about Asian Americans.”

“SAAFF is the only film festival in Seattle to provide a space for Asian American voices, perspectives and histories by screening independent films that reflect the diversity and richness of the Asian American community,” according to a release on the festival.

This year’s highlights include:

  • photo-mainThe Seattle premiere of 9-Man, a documentary about a gritty, Chinese-American streetball game that’s been played competitively in the alleys and parking lots of Chinatown since the 1930s. The film captures the spirit of 9-man as players not only battle for a championship, but fight to preserve a historic game. Director Ursula Liang won the Audience Award & Special Jury Award for Best Director at the 2014 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.
  • To Be Takei, SAAFF’s opening night film, is a documentary about actor and activist George Takei’s journey from a WWII internment camp, to the helm of the Starship Enterprise, to social media superstar. To Be Takei was an official selection at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
  • The Seattle premiere of Sriracha, a short documentary that tells the story of the ubiquitous, spicy sauce’s origin, its cult following, and the man behind the iconic “Rooster Sauce.” Sriracha won Best Short Film at the NYC Food Film Fest.

Tickets for individual screenings are $11 ($13 for opening night) or you can buy a festival pass for $75. Learn more at

10696295_10152657234787335_2048076096277090179_n-400x150Meanwhile, February’s Capitol Hill art walk Thursday night brings an opening from artist John Criscitello at Vermillion. CHS featured the Woo! Girl creator late last year and we’re looking forward to seeing his latest work not pasted to a utility vault.

For a listing of all the February art walk venues and highlights, check out

For more things to do around Capitol Hill this weekend, check out the CHS Calendar — or add your event to the list. Continue reading

A look at the future of cinema with the ghost of the Harvard Exit

The Harvard Exit ghost of cinema past was on hand Sunday night (Image: Josh Kelety for CHS)

The Harvard Exit ghost of cinema past was on hand Sunday night (Image: Josh Kelety for CHS)

Before you can look forward, you need to look back... one more time. Friday night, January 23rd, Joe Bar will host "Sorry,  Concession Stand Is Closed" -- The lights may have gone dark at the Harvard Exit, but the spirit(s) and memories will burn bright forever. Come on out and celebrate the history and beauty of the Harvard Exit. Say one last goodbye or take a stroll down memory lane. We'll have almost 50 years of behind the scenes mementos and history adorning our walls. The building and the people in it will always be incredibly special to Joe Bar and we cannot express how much we'll miss them. When something this great goes away, we've got to get together. We hope to see you and for one more night you'll still be able to have "corn so fresh you'll want to slap it"!

Before you can look forward, you need to look back… one more time. Friday night, January 23rd, Joe Bar will host “Sorry, Concession Stand Is Closed”The lights may have gone dark at the Harvard Exit, but the spirit(s) and memories will burn bright forever. Come on out and celebrate the history and beauty of the Harvard Exit. Say one last goodbye or take a stroll down memory lane. We’ll have almost 50 years of behind the scenes mementos and history adorning our walls. The building and the people in it will always be incredibly special to Joe Bar and we cannot express how much we’ll miss them. When something this great goes away, we’ve got to get together. We hope to see you and for one more night you’ll still be able to have “corn so fresh you’ll want to slap it”! And, yes, that is Robert Duvall talking on the Harvard Exit phone in a picture found by the folks at Joe Bar

While the rest of Seattle pounded its chest Sunday night in triumph over the Seahawks astounding last minute comeback, cinema goers and film connoisseurs gathered at the Northwest Film Forum to discuss the evolution of the film industry and reminisce over the closing of the Harvard Exit theater. Sunday’s audience engaged with a panel of film and cinema-savvy folks who laid out the state of independent cinema in the age of Netflix and did what they could to put the demise of the Harvard Exit into context.

George Kindl, former manager of the Harvard Exit, gave a brief history on the theater and what lead up to its eventual closing. He didn’t blame Landmark Theaters for the closure, attributing it more to the new building owner who doesn’t envision the space as a theater in the future. He was also quick to point out that he wasn’t a “Landmark apologist,” citing Landmark’s alleged routine unfulfilled promises for refurbishing its theaters.

Film editor for The Stranger and panelist Charles Mudede said that establishments like the Harvard Exit with “cultural significance” shouldn’t close just because they can’t stay profitable and succumb to the pressures of the market, saying that the community or government should financially intervene similar to bank bailouts.

After a hour long session of Q&A with the panelists, the audience listened to former employees of the Harvard Exit and also recently closed On 15th Video rental store read personal tributes to their former beloved places of work while the Harvard Exit “ghost” silently roamed the theater. The night wound down with Kindl telling swapping stories with audience members ranging from ghost stories to awkward encounters with Sean Penn in the Harvard Exit lobby. Continue reading

Northwest Film Forum’s film festival for kids turns 10

Sally's Way from Trinidad and Tobago plays January 31

Sally’s Way from Trinidad and Tobago plays January 31

An annual celebration of the youthful joys of the cinema — and pajama parties — is set to return to 12th Ave’s Northwest Film Forum starting next week.

The Children’s Film Festival Seattle begins next Thursday with a world premiere performance of a new musical score for Buster Keaton’s classic 1928 silent comedy, Steamboat Bill, Jr.

Meanwhile, you can still score tickets to Friday’s pajama party with Caspar Babypants.

You’ll find the full 2015 slate of festival films, tickets and more information at

Northwest Film Forum rolls out the red carpet for the 10th birthday edition of Children’s Film Festival Seattle (January 22 – February 7, 2015), the largest and most respected film festival on the West Coast dedicated to children and their families.

The 12-day extravaganza celebrates the best and brightest in international cinema for children, and will include more than 175 films from 58 countries, including Afghanistan, Venezuela, Qatar, Nigeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Uruguay and Trinidad and Tobago. The festival will include live performances, animation, features, shorts and hands-on filmmaking workshops, all crafted with care to appeal to the next generation of movie-lovers, ages 3 to 15.


CHS Pics | The Harvard Exits

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

IMG_7231While it was firmly in line with the venue’s more than 40 years of LGBTQ-friendly film, Friday night’s final screening at the Harvard Exit probably stirred up a ghost or two. Haunting is what you get when you mark the death of cinema with an event celebrating the premier of the third season of a successful HBO series. The stars and creatives behind HBO’s Looking drew a selfie-centered crowd to E Roy for one final night at the old art house destined to be redeveloped into a preservation-friendly office and restaurant complex.

An effort to “save” the Exit continues.

Meanwhile, 12th Ave’s Northwest Film Forum is more concerned about the living:

The Harvard Exits
Jan 18
Free event!
Screening at 4:45pm
Discussion at 6pm
Fond farewells at 7pm
Sunday, Jan 18 at 04:45PM

“Which Seattle theater will close next?” the Seattle Met wondered last month, observing (and warning) that, “We have a trend, people.” Continue reading