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 nwfilmforum.org.

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

A SIFF hit, Capitol Hill film My Last Year with the Nuns gets another run at NWFF

Matt Smith and big ol' St. Joe's

Matt Smith and big ol’ St. Joe’s

It might sound like fun to see a truly Capitol Hill movie but My Last Year with the Nuns is not a pleasant film. Yes, Matt Smith‘s acting is compelling and at turns dazzling as he deadpans his way through a script that’s been honed for nearly two decades, telling the story of a “white, 13-year old boy” living in Capitol Hill circa 1966, during the protagonist’s eighth grade year at St. Joseph’s Catholic School. And yes, in his directorial film debut, Capitol Hill theater veteran Bret Fetzer pulls on decades of experience of doing a lot with relatively little and helps turn a one man stage play, and a $50,000 or so budget, into a smartly-composed and imaginative feature-length monologue film that was a hit at the Seattle International Film Festival in 2014.

But the film does not flinch as it depicts the the racism, sexism and homophobia that informed and constructed the young protagonist’s reality and helped define his identity, and that still resonates in the reality and identity of his older, somewhat more reflective self, who plays the narrator.

“When I put this together, I wanted to convey the truthful essence of my experience from the point of view of a 13-year-old boy,” Smith told CHS, “And I tried to tell it from the stream-of-consciousness of this 13-year-old boy in such a way that it didn’t take me off the hook.”

After its packed shows at The Egyptian during SIFF last year, My Last Year with the Nuns is returning to Capitol Hill for a week’s run at Northwest Film Forum, where it will be taking over both screens starting Friday. The film will show at 7 PM and 9 PM daily through Thursday, January 19. Members of the film’s crew are promised to be present at all screenings. Tickets are available here. Continue reading

Save the Harvard Exit? Fan wants to work with developer to keep theater in redevelopment plans

969231_707229022640095_343339471_nAn effort to “save” the Harvard Exit as a theater space has started as most grassroots advocacy does these days — with a Facebook page. Save the Exit has been created by a fan of the movie house to help rally an effort to sway the developer acquiring the historic property to preserve the lower theater portion of the building’s interior.

“Let’s not rule out hope,” one of the initial postings to the page reads, “perhaps the one thing fans and lovers of The Exit can do is an to appeal to save the lower theater as some form of venue for not only cinema, but also for concerts, performance art, lectures, readings etc. A restaurant and bar would dovetail with such a venue quite nicely and the surrounding businesses and neighborhood would benefit as well.”

The Landmark Theatres movie chain that has operated the venue since 1979 will close things out with one final day of screenings on January 8th  11th.

CHS broke the news just before Christmas that developer Scott Shapiro was acquiring the nearly 90-year-old building home to the Harvard Exit with plans to preserve the exterior but transform the venue into a restaurant and office development.

The Save the Exit page is encouraging people to contact Shapiro with ideas for including the building’s history as a theater in his plans. “Please be civil and constructive in your remarks and let’s work with him, not against him to make the redevelopment of The Exit a win-win for everyone,” one page update encourages.

In addition to the letter campaign, the page is also pointing Exit fans to a petition with a 10,000-signature goal asking that the “theatre space be preserved in some format reflective of the history of the Harvard Exit and its role in Seattle and Capitol Hill arts and culture.” So far, it has 13 sign-ups.

Shapiro says the goal is to reopen the Harvard Exit with new tenants by early 2016.

January 8th, 2015: Harvard Exit’s last day as a cinema

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

UPDATE: Change in plans. A sign posted at the theater now says the Exit’s last screenings will be on Thursday night, January 8th.

You have just a little more than a week to say goodbye to the Harvard Exit with a movie inside the historic Capitol Hill art house set to be radically overhauled as part of a new food, drink, and office project.

The Exit’s 46-year run as a movie theater ends with a final day of screenings on Sunday, January 11th, according to an announcement for one event marking the end of the 1925-built building as a cinema. There has been no announcement from the Landmark Theatres chain that operates the Harvard Exit about plans for any special showings on the final weekend. A party to preview a new season of one of HBO’s shows is slated for Harvard Exit’s final Friday. The theater is currently showing the Stephen Hawking biopic, The Theory of Everything. Showtimes are 1:30, 4:15, 7:05, and 9:30 PM.

Earlier this month, CHS broke the news that real estate investor Scott Shapiro was purchasing the old masonry building and making plans to overhaul the structure’s interior. Shapiro told CHS a restaurant or cafe will likely take over the building’s 1,500 square-foot lobby, while he envisioned a bar moving into the 2,200 square-foot basement. The rest of the building will become “creative offices,” including the two 5,000 square-foot theater spaces and two upper floors of existing offices. Erected in 1925 as a clubhouse for the Woman’s Century Club, the Harvard Exit falls within the Harvard-Belmont Historic District’s protections on changes to the building’s exterior. Shapiro expects new tenants to begin moving into the project by spring of 2016.

The closure of the last of the old-school commercial “art house” film venues on Capitol Hill leaves a handful of new-era film destinations continuing to operate in the area. In October, SIFF reopened the Egyptian Theatre for a new, 10-year run under the non-profit’s wings. Meanwhile, 12th Ave and 23rd and Union continue to produce new and innovative and fun film experiences at Northwest Film Forum and Central Cinema. Continue reading

The top 10 films of 2014… on 12th Ave

The Grand Budapest Hotel made Bush's list. CHS gives it ***

The Grand Budapest Hotel made Bush’s list. CHS gives it ***

There are some bad signs for the future of film — and some good. Let’s turn to Lyall Bush, the executive director of 12th Ave’s Northwest Film Forum, for some home hope. NWFF has posted Bush’s 2014 top 10 list. You can add your picks in comments. The constraints are time-flexible. We don’t really care what year the film was made — just tell us what you watched and liked in 2014 and where you saw it.

Civilization and its Disturbances: The Year in Film vis Northwest Film Forum’s Lyall Bush

  1. force majeure asks us to regard nature against something like artifice
  2. Contempt — one of Jean-Luc Godard’s major films, and therefore one of the greatest films ever made
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel — in his own highly designed way Anderson has made his Vertigo
  4. La Voz de los Silenciados — the film’s tale of human enslavement in New York quite originally suggests Czech surreal filmmaking from decades ago
  5. A Spell to Ward of the Darkness — a beautiful braid of the complex, the stirring, and the disturbing
  6. A Touch of Sin — a bigger film than he has previously made, harder and shinier
  7. Under the Skin — arresting film about an alien on the streets of Glasgow
  8. Nymphomaniac, Vol. 1 — Von Trier, and his leading lady, Charlotte Gainsbourg, make it something of a deconstruction of civilization and its discontents
  9. In Country — a documentary about Vietnam war re-enactors in Oregon
  10. Speed of Sound — what happens when the text message from a friend who died a year ago pops up on a phone

Harvard Exit’s future is preservation-minded restaurant and office development

"machine of light and dream, harvard exit theater" (Image: davamoore via Flickr)

“machine of light and dream, harvard exit theater” (Image: davamoore via Flickr)

“Woman’s Century Club, Seattle, ca. 1925″ (Image:  MOHAI)

“Woman’s Century Club, Seattle, ca. 1925″ (Image: MOHAI)

The historic Harvard Exit building is here to stay, but its 46-year run as a movie theater will come to an end this January. The building’s new owner, developer Scott Shapiro, tells CHS he is planning a year-long overhaul to transform the twin-cinema’s interior into offices, a restaurant, and possibly a bar.

The Harvard Exit is a marquee property in the Harvard-Belmont Historic District, and the preservation-minded Shapiro said the 1925-built masonry exterior will remain completely intact.

“You’ll drive by and you wouldn’t notice any thing has changed,” Shapiro said, adding that he would uncover one row of currently boarded-up south-facing windows. “I love historic buildings, and if there’s a way to keep them and find a new use for them, that’s what I’m for.”

Shapiro tells CHS a restaurant or cafe will likely take over the building’s 1,500 square-foot lobby, while he envisioned a bar moving into the 2,200 square-foot basement. The rest of the building will become “creative offices,” including the two 5,000 square-foot theater spaces and two upper floors of existing offices. Continue reading

Now showing: The Capitol Hill Developer Who Bought the Harvard Exit

969231_707229022640095_343339471_n

(Image: Landmark Theatres)

The buyer of the historic, 1925-built building home to the Harvard Exit movie theater is a Capitol Hill developer and real estate investor who owns some of the most interesting properties in Seattle’s inner city.

CHS has learned that the real estate investment company owned by Scott Shapiro, the developer who helped create Melrose Market, is purchasing the three-story masonry building that has been home to cinema since the 1960s.Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 11.36.44 AM

Shapiro has not yet returned messages from CHS sent in recent weeks but construction permits filed with the city and people involved with businesses and organizations in the area have confirmed the involvement of Shapiro’s Eagle Rock Ventures. There is no public record, yet, of the sale. UPDATE: CHS received a text message from Shapiro’s number after posting this article: “no comment.”

CHS has not been told what comes next for the building after national chain Landmark Theatres moves out in January but it will most likely involve significant upgrades and changes inside the 90-year-old building. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s Harvard Exit Theatre to close

IMG_3045After nearly 40 years, the Harvard Exit Theatre will go dark this January. Landmark Theatres confirmed to CHS Monday that the company would cease screenings at the twin cinema mid-January after being notified that the longtime family owners secured a deal to sell the historic building at Harvard Ave and E Roy. CHS is working to confirm the buyer’s identity. UPDATE – Now showing: The Capitol Hill Developer Who Bought the Harvard Exit

Landmark president and CEO Ted Mundorff also said the Los Angeles-based company is pulling out of the the U-District’s Varsity Theater in January. “We’re sad to say goodbye to our loyal customers,” Mundorff said in a statement. Continue reading

Get out the vote… for the Capitol Hill Web Series

10174867_304470859746886_5066473175010199401_nWhen last we checked in on the trials and tribulations of Roses Smell, her Capitol Hill Web Series was getting the big screen treatment with a special showing at Central Cinema.

Now comes an Election Day reminder that Roses and the project from Wes Hurley and Waxie Moon depicting “a slightly more ridiculous version” of Capitol Hill “replete with soap opera histrionics and 1970’s-style sitcom hijinks” needs your vote:

Capitol Hill series has been selected to compete for the best web series at the prestigious Geneva International Film Festival. This is a big step up, we’ll be competing with the likes of The New York Times. In addition to theatrical screenings in Geneva, the festival is allowing you to watch and vote for best show online.

You can add your (daily!) support here at the festival web site and help Roses make it all the way from the backwater of Portland, Oregon to the bright lights of Geneva.

Paul Allen wants to show you movies about the economy tonight on Capitol Hill — for free

(Image: We the Economy)

(Image: We the Economy)

Capitol Hill’s only remaining chain movie theater and Paul Allen’s Vulcan Productions — yes, he makes movies, too — are teaming up for a free screening Monday night of a new short film collection about making money in America and the state of the nation’s economy. Produced by Allen’s film company and Morgan Spurlock, short film collection We the Economy screens for free at E Roy’s Landmark Harvard Exit and in brick and mortar theaters across the country Monday night, October 20th, before being released — also for free — as an online series. You can reserve your ticket for Monday’s 7 PM showing or hope to grab one at the box office at 807 E Roy. Continue reading

2014 Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival: 51 features, 112 shorts, 3 Capitol Hill screens

10689714_880557738622356_5567813280795476381_nAfter a celebratory grand re-opening weekend, SIFF Cinema Egyptian gets down to business this week as the centerpiece of Capitol Hill venues hosting the 2014 Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival.

Poster art for webThursday, the 19th annual edition of the festival and first-year fest director Kathleen Mullen welcome Greg Louganis to kick off 11 days of LGTBQ-focused cinema with an Egyptian screening of Back on Board, a documentary about the life and legacy of the Olympic champion diver.

In addition to gay and lesbian stars and subject matter, the festival continues to seek out the work of great LGTBQ filmmakers. “The films this year are outstanding with much of our strongest work from female and queer directors,” Three Dollar Bill Cinema director Jason Plourde said in a statement about the Capitol Hill-based group’s annual festival.

Overall, this year’s SLGFF includes 51 features and 112 shorts representing 32 countries, including 30 “Northwest premieres,” 5 West Coast premieres, and a world premiere. Venues include the Egyptian, Northwest Film Forum, Harvard Exit and Pacific Place. Ticket prices vary. A full festival pass will run you $225. You can see the full schedule and buy your passes here.

You can learn more at threedollarbillcinema.org/2014.

Filmmakers seek foxtrotting extras for Broadway Dance Steps shoot

A community-funded film about “why Seattle is a great city for entrepreneurs and creatives” is looking for extras to appear in a clip featuring Broadway’s most iconic and most fiercely copyright-protected public art. Your qualifications? You like to dance:

(Image: We Make Seattle)

(Image: We Make Seattle)

We’re filming this Thursday on Cap Hill and need some extras. This is your chance to be in the film.

This shoot is to capture the sidewalk dance sculptures on Broadway. They’re legendary symbols of creativity in Seattle and we finally got official permission to film them.

What we need are folks willing to have some fun, trying to figure out how to do the steps on camera. It’s easy, no dance skills are required (though if you have some that’s cool too), just a fun attitude.

In 2011, CHS reported on the settlement of a lawsuit over the Broadway Dance Steps involving a photographer whose work ended up on a stock photo site and the artist who created the inlaid brass footprints, Jack Mackie.

We Make Seattle is described as a short film that will “show the world how great Seattle is for creatives and entrepreneurs who have big ideas and the passion to invest in them.” It is produced by Bryan Zug and Adam Baggett of Bootstrapper Studios. It is directed by Seattle author Scott Berkun.

The project gets underway at 5:45 PM Thursday — the same night as Capitol Hill’s October art walk. You can learn more and let the filmmakers know your availability here.

Sneak preview: Inside Capitol Hill’s SIFF Cinema Egyptian

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

IMG_2896The smell of freshly popped popcorn wafting out onto E Pine and a line of giddy moviegoers stretching around the block onto Harvard can only signal one thing: The Egyptian is back.

After having shuttered its doors for over a year, the Capitol Hill movie theater officially reopens Friday.

Earlier this week, the Egyptian got a head start on its new life with a VIP invite-only celebratory flurry of complimentary champagne, salted caramel, chocolate cookies, and, of course, a movie screening for Seattle International Film Festival donors and sponsors who helped fund the extensive interior renovations to the venue inside the one-time Masonic temple.

“This has been such an amazing palace for theater for so long, and I think many of us who have been involved in all the festivals for SIFF over the years have come to find it as one of our homes,” said Jeff Stolz, a SIFF member for 10 years. “It’s so exciting that it has come back.”IMG_3077

Have a drink on Capitol Hill, get in free
Starting Friday, SIFF Cinema Egyptian will hold its official grand opening celebration for the public from October 3rd through 5th, showing a variety of its most popular films. All tickets are $5 dollars (in advance or at the door) — but you can get in for free with a receipt from a Capitol Hill business. Continue reading