‘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 seattleaaff.org/2015/.

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 capitolhillartwalk.com.

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 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