Artistic director and Egyptian Theater-saving master leaving SIFF

Carl Spence, SIFF artistic director

Carl Spence, SIFF artistic director

During the past 23 years, Carl Spence has been instrumental in transforming the Seattle International Film Festival from an annual event to a year-round organization and saving the Uptown Theatre and Capitol Hill’s Egyptian Theatre while he’s at it.

Six months from now Spence, who serves as SIFF’s artistic director, will be saying goodbye as he leaves for new adventures with his family and in his work life.

Spence was hired in 1994 on a three-month contract for the festival to do marketing work, which wasn’t what he wanted. He was interested in programming. But it was the organization he wanted to be with.

“It’s like the best place anyone could imagine to get a job,” he said. Continue reading

As Seattle gay film fest gets new Twist, a story of love in Iraq has happy Capitol Hill ending

When Nayyef Hrebid talks about his husband his whole face lights up; he can’t stop himself from smiling.

Hrebid and Btoo Allami live a happy life together on Capitol Hill, but it the Iraqi couple spent years trying to get here — a place where they were free to be together and themselves.

“It’s the place we most feel safe,” Hrebid told CHS.

The documentary Out of Iraq tells the story of Hrebid, a translator working for the U.S. military, and Allami, an Iraqi soldier, falling in love during the war and the lengths they went to to be together. The film’s Northwest premiere will be at the TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival, at 7 PM on October 15th at the Northwest Film ForumContinue reading

Film festival explores Capitol Hill’s ‘rapid development and change’ in two minutes or less

A quick search through Craigslist will tell you how artists are getting priced out of Capitol Hill. Not so easily quantifiable is what effect that is having on artists and the neighborhood as a whole. A series of 2-minute dance films is seeking to shed some light on the subject.

Dance Film Challenge is a film festival on Capitol Hill about Capitol Hill sponsored by Capitol Hill arts institutions. The challenge: Teams submit two-minute dance films “reflecting the Capitol Hill neighborhood and the crossroads that Capitol Hill artists, communities and residents are facing in this period of rapid development and change.” Winners selected by the audience will be given a one month residency at the V2 temporary art space on 11th Ave. Ten submissions will be screened Thursday at Northwest Film Forum. Continue reading

Northwest Film Forum gets an overhaul during August intermission

12th Ave indie film house and cinema community center the Northwest Film Forum is taking an intermission this month while the space gets a much needed facelift. Work is currently underway at the theater and facility is to expand the lobby and add a new concession counter and box office.

All four cinema doors are also getting swapped out for oak-core doors, which NWFF says will dramatically improve the theater’s soundproofing. Exterior renovations will setup work for a new awning to be installed in the fall. The renovations are being partially funded through the city’s Office of Arts & Culture. Continue reading

Reminder: Cal Anderson Park outdoor movies outer space edition

The best way to watch a space fantasy movie has to be under a night sky filled with stars, or at least beneath the glowing orbs of Cal Anderson Park’s lamp posts.

Three Dollar Bill Cinema is holding its annual outdoor film run in the park each Friday night in August. This year’s mini-festival is dubbed The Fierce Awakens! All the screenings are free and start around 8:30 PM in the southeast corner of the park. A DJ will start warming up the crowd around 7 PM and concessions are available.

First up is Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same, which screens this Friday. The film tells the story of lesbian space aliens that have on earth with a mission to rid themselves of romantic emotions through inevitable heartbreak. The rest of the month looks equally spacey and fun.

Friday, August 5
Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same (2011)

Friday, August 12
Spaceballs (1987)

Friday, August 19
Barbarella (1968)

Friday, August 26th
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

Continue reading

2016 Capitol Hill summer outdoor movies start with samurai in Volunteer Park

We’ve already noted how busy the parks around Capitol Hill have been this week. It’s a sign of summer. An even truer sign of summer has also arrived — the first outdoor movie of the season on Capitol Hill.

Friday, the Seattle Asian Art Museum’s Gardner Center presents the first of three weeks of film and music at the Volunteer Park amphitheater with a screening of the “anti-samurai” piece Goyokin and music from blues duo Son Jack Jr. & Michael Wilde:

Outdoor Music & Films: Goyokin

The rest of summer 2016’s outdoor films events around Capitol Hill are below. Included is the return of Three Dollar Bill’s annual series in Cal Anderson Park — this year’s theme? The Fierce Awakens! Codependent Lesbian Space Alien, Spaceballs, Barbarella, and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy screen on Fridays in August. Continue reading

Capitol Hill filmmakers shoot ‘lesbian supernatural thriller’ in a haunted mansion

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A scene from Brides to Be

twistofpride-flyer2016Capitol Hill filmmakers Kris and Lindy Boustedt say they have always focused on telling stories about women, and their newest film takes that theme to a new level: a narrative Lindy describes as love story meets “lesbian supernatural thriller.”

Brides to Be, their third feature film, will premiere at The Egyptian on June 17 as part of the Twist of of Pride film festival. The pair premiered their first feature film on Capitol Hill in 2010 as part of SIFF.

The special festival is also the kind of event programming SIFF is hoping to feature at The Egyptian as the re-opened venue continues to serve Capitol Hill.

The pair have been co-writing and co-directing movies for 15 years. They have lived and worked on Capitol Hill ever since they moved to Seattle more than a decade ago. They says they chose Capitol Hill largely because of its film culture.

“This is the only place we ever wanted to live in Seattle,” said Lindy. “We picked this area because at that time the majority of the SIFF venues were on Capitol Hill — we’re nerds, so we were like, ‘This is where the film is!’” Continue reading

Northwest Film Forum tabs next executive director

unnamed-1There is hope, graduating art students of 2016, that those series of unpaid internships will eventually land you a dream arts organization job and Courtney Sheehan is living proof.

Capitol Hill’s Northwest Film Forum announced Tuesday that the 27-year-old one-time college intern, who got her first full-time gig with the 12th and Pike nonprofit in 2013, has taken over as the new executive director.

“Courtney is really good at building relationships, understanding the importance of new ideas, and celebrating the kind of art that draws people together,” said NWFF board president Peter Vogt.

Sheehan’s appointment comes a year after Lyall Bush stepped down as the forum’s previous executive director. Bush, who had been involved with the forum since it opened 20 years ago, now leads the film program at Cornish College of Arts.

The NWFF stands out among film organizations in that it not only screens a wide variety of independent film, but also offers filmmaking classes, rents equipment, and funds local projects. In addition to expanding those elements, Sheehan said she is excited to program more events that mix film with performances and speakers. Continue reading

The Egyptian, Capitol Hill’s working cinema, ready for another big role in 42nd SIFF

Capitol Hill’s Egyptian Theater — or SIFF Cinema Egyptian, as the organization behind the venue likes it to be called — is a hard worker, bringing independent and art house cinema to the neighborhood day in and day out. Starting this week, the old Masonic temple will, again, be part of the annual SIFF Seattle Independent Film Festival, this year 25 days of movies and the people who love them across the city. It’s this mix of showcase spectacle and the steady drumbeat of daily and nightly screenings and events through the year that makes the Egyptian special.

“We love the fact that we’re back at the Egyptian Theater as the operators year round,” festival director and chief curator Carl Spence tells CHS. “It’s a full circle that we’re able to save it as a cinema and keep it going as a working cinema.”

The 2016 SIFF takes the screen starting Friday, May 19th and runs through an epic schedule leading up to this year’s June 12th finale. There are the numbers: 421 films representing 85 countries: 181 features (plus 4 secret films), 75 documentaries, 8 archival films, and 153 shorts. The films include 54 World premieres (29 features, 25 shorts), 56 North American premieres (42 features, 14 shorts), and 27 US premieres (15 features, 12 shorts). And there are the stars. This year, Viggo Mortensen will be at the Egyptian June 11th to follow Kevin Bacon (2015) and Laura Dern (2014) as the latest recipients of the festival’s annual Award for Outstanding Achievement in Acting.

But, most importantly, there are the movies: Continue reading

With transgender politics on national stage, 11th Translations film festival to screen across Hill theaters

Major! -- a documentary about transgender activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy -- opens the festival. Miss Major is slated to attend the Thursday night screening (Image: Major!)

Major! — a documentary about transgender activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy — opens the festival. Miss Major is slated to attend the Thursday night screening (Image: Major!)

The 11th Translations, the Seattle Transgender Film Festival, will kick off three days after U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the Justice Department is suing North Carolina for implementing its notorious bathroom law which implicitly prevents transgender individuals from using bathrooms per their identified gender — or lack thereof.

Transgender discrimination issues have been front in center in national public discourse over the past year, including here in Washington, where Initiative 1515 — a rebirth of a push in the Republican-controlled state legislature to roll back bathroom and locker room preference protections for transgender individuals in Washington — is picking up signatures to be put on the November ballot. So this year’s 11th annual Translations film festival will have particular political and social potent relevance.

Starting May 12th, this Thursday, theaters around Capitol Hill—including the Northwest Film Forum, SIFF’s Egyptian on Pine, and 12th Avenue Arts—screen over thirty films, both shorts and feature-length, concerning all things transgender and genderqueer. The first film of the festival is Major!, a documentary about the life and work of black transgender elder, veteran of the Stonewall Rebellion and activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, who advocates for trans women of color and against mass incarceration.

Among the slated films is One Word: Passing, a four minute short of interviews with transgender Seattleites responding to the word “passing,” the act of conforming to the expected appearances and behavioral traits of a cisgender man or woman while transgender or genderqueer. Gerri Desouza, an agender Art Design student at Seattle Central, First Hill resident, and volunteer at the Translations film festival, is one of the interviewees in the film. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s gay film festival is now TWIST

Twist-logoIn 1995, Capitol Hill’s Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival was born. In 2016, it chose a new identity.

Come October, the 21st year of the festival from 12th Ave Arts headquartered Three Dollar Bill Cinema will come under a new name — TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival.

“We’re just bringing a new name and fresh attitude to our steadfast community event,” executive director Jason Plourde said in a statement on the new name. “Our fans can still expect the spectacular films, great parties, and creative programs we’ve produced all along.”

After “a survey that garnered hundreds of responses” and “numerous meetings with staff, board, and stakeholders,” Three Dollar chose the new festival brand for its “film connotations,” and because it evokes “a festive, social, and celebratory spirit,” and  “something unique and off-center, an unexpected surprise to be discovered and revealed, beyond the usual norms and conventions.”

The 2016 festival returns October 13th through 23rd. You can learn more at threedollarbillcinema.org.

 

11th Children’s Film Festival Seattle to screen beyond Capitol Hill

2016's festival opens with a screening of the 1916 silent film Snow White with a score performed live by Seattle harpist Leslie McMichael and violist Barbara McMichael

2016’s festival opens with a screening of the 1916 silent film Snow White with a score performed live by Seattle harpist Leslie McMichael and violist Barbara McMichael

It’s time again to put on your pajamas and enjoy some pancakes and one-of-a-kind children’s cinema. This week, the 2016 Children’s Film Festival Seattle returns to Capitol Hill’s Northwest Film Forum… and beyond. This 11th edition of the festival will feature a new co-host with screenings in South King County at Renton’s Carco Theatre.

“Now more than ever, it’s a great time to remind our kids that our world is home to many different and beautiful cultures and ways of life,” festival director Elizabeth Shepherd said in the announcement of the 2016 festival. “An international children’s film festival is a perfect place to discover common ground, to build empathy and celebrate our shared humanity.”

This year’s festival will bring together more than 165 international children’s films from 40 countries for a week of screenings on 12th Ave and in Renton before hitting the road for screenings in other cities.

Capitol Hill kids, in the meantime, get to enjoy the festival plus some of its special returning events including Friday night’s DJ/pajama party and Saturday’s pancake and movies breakfast at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption on 13th Ave. As of Tuesday afternoon, tickets were still available for both events. Continue reading