Colombian filmmaker finds magic realism on Capitol Hill



Capitol Hill will have a starring role in at least one of the films featured in this year’s Seattle Shorts Film Festival this weekend at the SIFF Film Center near the Seattle Center.

Filmmaker Julio Ramirez’s new short Signs Everywhere, will come to the fifth annual festival, premiering Saturday, November 14. He shot a great deal of the 11-minute movie on the streets of Capitol Hill.

The short, starring Tony Doupe and Cynthia Geary is a magical realism tale of perception. According to the festival’s website, it follows a “man’s attempt to disconnect from reality, [which] results in an unusual visualization of signs from people’s struggles.”

After his first feature, 2013’s Nothing Against Life, Ramirez said he was diagnosed with cancer. It took him a while to return to health and his filmmaking career, but local help brought him back behind the camera.

Andrew Kwatinetz, a colleague from the The Film School, presented Ramirez with a screenplay for Signs Everywhere. The filmmaker responded to the story’s content and wanted to tell the story.

“He approached me and said, ‘I love your feature film and would you be willing to direct this if you like it?’” Ramirez said about Kwatinetz. “It came out of nowhere for me.” Continue reading

‘Something to get motivated’ — Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival turns 20

After attending a gay film festival in San Francisco’s in the early 1990s, artist Skylar Fein knew he wanted to create the same kind of celebration in Seattle. He tested the waters in 1995 then held the first Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in 1996. Since then the SLGFF has grown into a Capitol Hill tradition. This year, more than 10,000 people are expected to attend the festival’s 20th anniversary.

The reels get rolling Thursday with a showing of Freeheld at the SIFF Cinema Egyptian.

“It’s something to get motivated, this bittersweet story about a woman dying and a fight for basic civil rights,” says Three Dollar Bill Cinema executive director Jason Plourde. “It’s also a reminder of how far we’ve come as a community and a movement.” Continue reading

Northwest Film Forum celebrates 20 years, 2015 Local Sightings festival

In 2013, CHS looked at the future of film on Capitol Hill including NWFF and 21st Ave's Central Cinema (Image: Elisa Huerta-Enochian)

CHS looked at the future of film around Capitol Hill including NWFF and 21st Ave’s Central Cinema (Image: Elisa Huerta-Enochian with permission to CHS)

2015 marks 20 years of the most indie of indie cinema on Capitol Hill. You can celebrate two decades of the Northwest Film Forum Thursday night as its signature Local Sightings film festival commences with an opening night of shorts that “capture moments of change in Seattle from contemporary times and past eras” followed by a free NWFF birthday party:

To celebrate Northwest Film Forum’s 20th anniversary, we are throwing the most epic costume party the Film Forum lobby has ever seen! Dress up as any character from a film we’ve shown over the past 20 years. Don’t know where to start? Check out this list to find some inspiration: ABBA, Flash Gordon, Abraham Lincoln, James Brown, Norman Bates, Venus & Serena, Alien, Dr. Strangelove, Pee Wee Herman, Thelonius Monk, Princess Nausicaa — they’re all fair game! There will be prizes for best costumes and dance moves. Join us to toast the miracle of NWFF and party like it’s 1995.

As the party is Thursday night, CHS will be dressed up as Sam J. Jones in Flash Gordon as we do normally to start the weekend.

The opening night Sprawl to Action slate sounds right up your alley:

Citizens of Seattle: take a minute for your city! Tonight we marshal together short films that capture moments of change in Seattle from contemporary times and past eras. From today: the suddenly booming weed industry, rapidly transforming neighborhoods, and lyrical musings about technology in our lives. From yester-year: cultural memories long-forgotten, ideas for a future that’s now past, and a grassroots movement that physically shaped the city. Sprawl to Action includes the launch of Citizen Minutes, a new community video project of Northwest Film Forum.

Information on the opening night Sprawl to Action and the 20th anniversary party as well as the September 24th to October 3rd festival can be found at

Earlier this year, CHS talked with outgoing NWFF director Lyall Bush about his exit and the history of the film-focused organization:

NWFF traces its origin to the 1995 launch of WigglyWorld Studios, a post-production outfit that got its start on Capitol Hill. At the time, Bush was working as a film editor and was brought on as the group was primarily interested in forming a repository for film equipment.

The organization quickly grew into other aspects of film, including teaching and screening. Co-founders Jamie Hook and Deborah Girdwood — along with Michael Seiwerath, now at Capitol Hill Housing — began exploring an expansion into their own theater.

That’s when Seattle venture capitalist Nick Hanauer entered the picture along with some deep pocket donors. After changing its name, the nonprofit took over management of the U-Districts’Grand Illusion Theatre in 1997. Two years later, it opened the The Little Theatre at 19th and Mercer. Hanauer remains involved, by the way, serving on the NWFF board.

In 2004, NWFF moved into its current home on 12th Ave between Pine and Pike.

Bush announced in spring 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. “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.”

Your Capitol Hill summer is not over yet: bonus movie in Cal Anderson Park

(Image: Three Dollar Bill Cinema)

One of the largest crowds ever kicked off Three Dollar’s 2015 summer movie series (Image: Three Dollar Bill Cinema)

A drizzly end to August stole a small piece of your Capitol Hill summer. Three Dollar Bill Cinema plans to restore it with a bonus rescheduling of one last outdoor movie in Cal Anderson Park: 11874991_10153309447849425_5640551179295126267_o

The summer outdoor movie season is not over yet! On Friday, Sept. 4 beginning at8:00pm, movie fans will gather once more for a Seattle tradition: Three Dollar Bill Outdoor Cinema at Cal Anderson Park. The ongoing series, sponsored by Sound Transit, called “Bedtime Stories,” kicked off with THE PRINCESS BRIDE, and has included EDWARD SCISSORHANDS and THE NEVERENDING STORY.The series will conclude on Friday with the last in this year’s lineup, ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING, originally scheduled for August 14, but rescheduled in response to bad weather.

Topping off the evening’s lineup will be a special surprise pre-movie screening. You’ll have to show up to find out what’s in store!The night is hosted by the glamorous Mama Tits, with music by DJGeneralMeow (Kendall’s DJ & Event).

WHAT:  Three Dollar Bill Outdoor Cinema’s presentation of ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING.
WHEN: Friday, September 4 beginning at 8:00pm (movie at 8:30pm)

WHERE: Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill – 1635 11th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

No word on what the “special surprise pre-movie screening” will be — like they say, you’ll need to show up to find out.

Capitol Hill in Transition… the movie

Here, through the lenses The Advanced Digital Media Class for Teens at 12th Ave’s Photo Center NW, is another look at a changing Capitol Hill. Nice work, kids.

Capitol Hill in Transition from Advanced Digital Media for Teens on Vimeo.

Photographic Center Northwest located in Seattle, Washington offers teen workshops that help youth advance their creative skills in photography and digital media. The Advanced Digital Media Workshop offers teens the chance to create a multimedia piece where they use their photographic skills to tell a story.

In this particular class, our multimedia project explored the changes happening on Capitol Hill in Seattle, Washington. Capitol Hill has long been considered the heart of Seattle’s alternative culture and lifestyles, but with a mass population increase and influx of new business the landscape is rapidly transforming.

Through the use of photography, video, and audio skills gained in the workshop; the students created the multimedia piece, Capitol Hill in Transition, which looks at the changing cultural demographics and economics sweeping the area.

Instructor: Bethanie Mitchell
Videographer: Peter Kubiniec
Photographers: Jack Sarlls, Phoebe Metzger, and Johanna Mergener
Audio: Phoebe Metzger

With last screening at the Harvard Exit, work on restaurant and office project set to begin

(Images: S+H Works)

(Images: S+H Works)

IMG_3056-1-600x900It turns out, the last movie to be publicly screened at Capitol Hill’s historic Harvard Exit theater had a fitting title.

A Sunday night, June 7th screening of All Things Must Pass, a documentary “chronicle of the rise and fall of the biggest success story in record store history,” ended SIFF 2015’s 24-day celebratory wake for the Exit and brought to a close — after a false ending or two — its 46 years as a working cinema.

Developer Scott Shapiro, who purchased the building in a deal that closed earlier this year for $2.35 million, tells CHS the way is now clear for work to begin to transform the old theater on E Roy at Broadway into a mixed commercial and office development. You won’t see any major construction right away — permits for the project are still being reviewed by the city.

The architect on the project is Capitol Hill-based S+H Works.

The Harvard Exit is part of the Harvard-Belmont Historic District and plans are for the 1925-built masonry exterior to remain intact. Earlier, 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.

If renovation work gets started this summer, Shapiro expects tenants to move in by early 2016.

From Even the Walls (Image: Canh Nguyen)

From Even the Walls (Image: Canh Nguyen)

Meanwhile, another tale of Central Seattle development with a much different subject matter was honored at SIFF 2015. Even the Walls, a 27-minute examination of the lives being changed by the redevelopment of Yesler Terrace from directors Sarah Kuck and Saman Maydání, was presented with the Golden Space Needle Award for best short film. You can view a trailer and learn more about future screenings here.

CHS Pics | Kevin Bacon at The Egyptian


Bacon at Tuesday’s Q&A (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

IMG_6423The only cinematic connection CHS can find between the 2015 Seattle International Film Festival lifetime achievement honoree Kevin Bacon and last year’s SIFF honoree Laura Dern is this poorly reviewed 2001 Steve Martin vehicle. The audience got a little closer Tuesday night at the Egyptian as Bacon appeared for an audience Q&A and to introduce his classic of wholesome teenage rebellion, Footloose.

Wednesday on E Pine, Bacon gets his trophy — tickets to “an evening with Kevin Bacon” and the screening of his new film are still available:

SIFF welcomes Kevin Bacon to the stage for an interview featuring film clips from his career and to receive the Seattle International Film Festival Career Achievement award. Afterwards, there will be a screening of Bacon’s latest film, Cop Car, directed by Jon Watts.

UPDATE: What? More Bacon? The actor stopped by Garfield High School Wednesday afternoon to meet the drama kids. Thanks to Garfield Stage for sharing pictures from the visit:

Meanwhile, there are still lots of Capitol Hill SIFF 2015 highlights still to come to the screens at the Egyptian and the Harvard Exit in the venue’s final run as a cinema:

A few more pictures and a couple notes from the Q&A from the crowd, below. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Seattle Semi-Pro Wrestling doc screens at SIFF 2015, more Hill highlights to come

IMG_5949Some of the best Capitol Hill moments of SIFF 2015 are still to come. Thursday, CHS found the veterans of Seattle Semi-Pro Wrestling out to celebrate the one-night screening of Bodyslam: Revenge of the Banana:

For six years, the stars of Seattle Semi-Pro Wrestling thrilled crowds as they parodied professional wrestling with their boozy blend of burlesque and athleticism. But when a newcomer felt slighted by the tight-knit cabaret performers, he tried to take them down, forcing them into an all-too-real fight for their future.

The film isn’t slated to screen again during SIFF but you can learn more about the production at Meanwhile, here are some of the upcoming on-Hill highlights slated for SIFF screenings at the Egyptian — and the Harvard Exit’s last run as a cinema:

HageresebMeanwhile, a package of films capturing life in Yesler Terrace and the issues related to the neighborhood’s redevelopment will be featured at SIFF this weekend in screenings at the Harvard Exit:

Faces of Yesler Terrace
Yesler Terrace is highly controversial in the changing landscape of the city of Seattle. These films capture the people and stories from the past and present of Yesler Hill’s public housing development.


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