‘Nueva ola’ cinema on Capitol Hill, Northwest Film Forum hosts Pulsos Latinos film festival

Por Las Plumas2
From Por las Plumas,by Neto Villalobos, Ecuador, 2013

After the marquee finally changed last Tuesday, an alcohol-induced paper trail has had CHS wondering out loud whether SIFF has already secured its bid for a 10-year lease on The Egyptian. The deal would have the city’s most prominent film curator sticking around Capitol Hill long after the festival proper lights up the theater’s lonely screen once again for three weeks starting May 15. While we may have to bear with the great unknown for a bit, in the meantime a bit farther up the road, 12th Ave’s Northwest Film Forum continues to defend the neighborhood against total cinematic meltdown with programming that consistently qualifies the Hill as an all-seasons site for the independent film circuit. Friday, the first, and possibly the first-annual, Pulsos Latinos series kicks off tonight exemplifies the Forum’s contribution.


From Purgatoria by Rodrigo Reyes, Mexico/USA, 2012

Scheduled amidst a number of thematic film series’ the Forum has added to its calendar in recent years, the eight-day Pulsos Latinos will showcase work said to represent a “nueva ola” — or new wave — of Latino cinema swelling up as it were from a milieu the guest curator and programmer for the series, veteran film critic and Cinema Scope writer Jay Kuehner, says has moved from the “margins” to being “almost a forefront” of global cinema in recent years.

“Latino cinema is setting a precedent for the industry in terms of creativity, in terms of production and also in terms of getting films off the ground in difficult financial times,” Kuehner said. “We want to acknowledge this moment of ascendance,” he said, explaining the drive of Pulsos Latinos. “That’s the impetus behind this.” Continue reading

Plot twist: SIFF’s boozy Cinema Seattle clue of what comes next for The Egyptian

(Image: @HueyJune via Twitter)

(Image: @HueyJune via Twitter)

As CHS reported earlier this month, SIFF is making preparations for a return to Capitol Hill’s shuttered Egyptian Theatre for its 2014 festival. Tuesday, the marquee went back into motion for the first time since last summer.

We also reported that the movie-focused non-profit SIFF has been the only bidder to take over the old theater long-term as Seattle Central searched for a new tenant. Officials wouldn’t confirm a long-term lease but it looks like SIFF, managing director Mary Bacarella, and artistic director Carl Spence are making plans to open a new Cinema Seattle in the Egyptian according to, of all things, a liquor license application for the theater.

The application listing SIFF and the directors’ names is a request for a beer and wine license specifically issued for theaters. It was filed on Monday.

It’s possible — but not likely — Bacarella and Spence are pursuing the license just so festival goers can enjoy beer and wine during the Capitol Hill screenings of the 40th annual Seattle International Film Festival this May. Here’s hoping, instead, the application is another plot device in the Egyptian’s epic tale of loss and triumphant return to glory.

Egyptian will play host to SIFF 2014, but theater remains empty as nonprofit takeover still being evaluated

Nine months after the screen went dark at The Egyptian Theatre, the lights are still out at the at the prominent Capitol Hill cinema space. But CHS has confirmed the 600-seat theater will raise its curtain once again when it plays its part in hosting the 40th annual Seattle International Film Festival this May.

“It’s good to be able to use the Egyptian after being dark for so long,” said SIFF’s Rachel Eggers. ”We love having SIFF on Capitol Hill and love being able to connect with the community.”

Eggers said crews will soon begin spiffing up the theater’s interior and putting up some new artwork outside — a welcomed change from the now longstanding “farewell” marquee.

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Capitol Hill hosts Seattle Deaf Film Festival

A scene from Lake Windfall, "a portrait of interactions between deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing people" --  in a post-apocalyptic setting.

A scene from Lake Windfall, “a portrait of interactions between deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing people” — in a post-apocalyptic setting.

Capitol Hill’s Northwest Film Forum continues to make a home for festivals involving filmmakers and subject matters of all types. Next week, Seattle Deaf Film Festival brings its three-day roster of 36 productions showcasing the works of the deaf filmmaking community to Capitol Hill for the first time following its 2013 debut. Reels run April 4-6.

“SDFF started from a core group full of signing people who were passionate about cinema and wanted to set up a film festival celebrating its own culture and language,” said Patty Liang, the festival’s director. The festival is powered by community group Deaf Spotlight who plan to launch the weekend with an opening night reception April 4 at Velocity — $10 or free for weekend ticket holders; 8 to 11 PM. The productions being shown at the festival will offer many genres and styles for viewers to pick from and explore.

“The films were made by, and for the Deaf community. We have a wonderful committee who screened all 70 films and narrowed down to 36 films in different genres: animation, comedy/musical, documentary, drama, and suspense/thriller,” she said. The selection of Capitol Hill for the second SDFF was influenced by the community, and Liang hopes to keep it here. Continue reading

‘Business as usual’ at Capitol Hill’s Harvard Exit

(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

There’s a faint smattering of applause as Spike Jonze’s name appears on the closing credits following the 7:30 p.m. showing of “Her.”

The lights un-dim and much of the half-full theater rises to its feet. A few people remain seated and chat, while others pass under the decade’s old balcony into the 1920s waiting room with a flickering electric fireplace. An usher bids a simple adieu and the the night is over.

While there is certainly no grand difference in the above-mentioned movie experience compared to most others, catching a flick at Harvard Exit will never be mistaken for stadium seating at a Marcus theater.

If someone asks if you saw Her, the answer will be, “yeah,” “no” or, “yeah, we watched it at Harvard Exit” – the neighborhood’s sole remaining chain theater since The Egyptian closed in June of last year.

“It’s vintage,” said Jeanne Heuving, a Wallingford resident who good-humoredly sat through a pair of echoing phone sex scenes with her mother.

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9th annual Children’s Film Festival Seattle returns to Capitol Hill’s Northwest Film Forum

A scene from Horizon Beautiful

A scene from Horizon Beautiful

Capitol Hill moms, dads and friends of little ones know that mid-January means it’s time to get your tickets for the annual Children’s Film Festival Seattle at 12th Ave’s Northwest Film Forum. So, consider this an invitation to Capitol Hill families. You’ll want to get your pancake breakfast tickets early.

Small People. Big Characters.
January 23 – February 2, 2014
We’re just a week away from the ninth year of our international film festival for kids and families, the largest on the West Coast! Visit the official festival website >

Starting next Thursday, you can watch new films for kids ages 3 – 14, from more than 32 countries around the globe — not to mention live music, visiting international artists, filmmaking workshops and plenty of pancakes.

* * *


January 23, Thursday at 7pm

Gorgeous hand-cut silhouette animation from the silent film era tells the (first feature film) story of talking animals and the benevolent doctor who understands what they say. Paired with a world-premiere live musical score from Seattle duo Miles & Karina! Read more >

January 24, Friday at 7pm

Sponsored by Cupcake Royale and Honest Kids
Boogie down to “kindie” rock, eat cupcakes, and bring favorite stuffed animals along to watch beautiful animated films. Read more >

February 1, Saturday at 9:30am

Sponsored by Whole Foods Market and Bill the Butcher
An all-you can eat breakfast (with coffee and bacon) is paired with a dazzling short film selection. Plus, free parking as part of your ticket! Read more >

Free screening of ‘Inequality for All’ at Harvard Exit

IFA-Seattle-Event-InvitationThe Service Employees International Union sends word of a free screening Monday night of the new documentary following former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich ”as he looks to raise awareness of the country’s widening economic gap.” Inequality for All shows at 7 PM, Monday at the Harvard Exit (807 E Roy). Trailer and RSVP information for free tickets, below.

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College begins search for bidder to take over Egyptian Theatre as ‘arts and culture space’

Screen Shot 2013-07-29 at 9.26.17 PM

From the SCCC “request for proposals” for The Egyptian Theatre

If you have been thinking about operating a 600-seat theater on Capitol Hill, here is your chance. Tuesday, Seattle Central Community College is putting out the call for interested organizations to formally apply to take over The Egyptian Theatre a little more than a month after the Landmark chain walked away from renewing its lease at the former Masonic Temple that has operated as a venue for art house cinema since 1980.

CHS reported on SCCC’s plan to search for a new tenant here.

Tuesday’s “request for proposals” call reveals what will come next in the process — and how the next era for the Egyptian will be defined. “The space might continue as a cinema, or perhaps there’s a new mixed-arts use you can imagine for it,” the school’s statement on the request, below, reads.

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With the end of Midnight Movies at the Egyptian, Harvard Exit unreels Cine Insomnia

1069282_576265649079320_1856006049_nIt’s been more than a month since the final* midnight screening at Capitol Hill’s Egyptian Theatre. The popular art house shuttered last month as tenant Landmark pulled out citing the general malaise of the movie theater industry. Landlord Seattle Central has said the public process to find a new tenant for the building will ramp up soon. In the meantime, Landmark’s remaining Capitol Hill venue the Harvard Exit is getting into a reduced version of the midnight movies game with the start of its Cine Insomnia series Saturday night. At midnight, you can catch freaky puppet flick The Dark Crystal down at Broadway and Roy. Tickets are $8.25

CHS Pics | Cal Anderson outdoor movie crowd celebrates 25 years of Hairspray

(Image: Andrew Ahlstrom with permission to CHS)

(Image: Andrew Ahlstrom with permission to CHS)

When our CHS photographer came down with some technical difficulties Friday night, a few readers and “the crowd” stepped in to share a few images of the opening night for Capitol Hill’s 2013 summer movie season. Thanks for the help! On the big screen, fans celebrated the 25-year anniversary of the John Waters classic, Hairspray — and, of course, a perfect Pacific Northwest summer night in Cal Anderson Park.


(Image: @krescendo via Twitter)


(Image: @filmgal via Twitter)

Screen Shot 2013-07-20 at 3.59.02 PM

(Image: aliamarsha via Instagram)


Filming begins around Capitol Hill as locals take play to silver screen

Meanwhile, we also find the occasional MTV crew at work on Capitol Hill. Here's a note and picture from @timdurkan: "MTV on the Hill? rumor says new show about dating brought this crew out on broadway tonight."

Meanwhile, we also find the occasional MTV crew at work on Capitol Hill. Here’s a note and picture from @timdurkan: “MTV on the Hill? rumor says new show about dating brought this crew out on broadway tonight.”

CHS catches the occasional indie film crew in our neck of the woods but starting soon, you’ll see a Hill-raised performer begin the process of taking his stage comedy to the silver screen after a successful crowdsourcing campaign.

Matt Smith, creator of “My Last Year with Nuns,” an autobiographical play based around his 8th grade Catholic school experiences circa 1966 on Capitol Hill, will soon star in an independent film based on the story. The production shouldn’t be hard to find.

“The public face of Capitol Hill (the churches, houses, and streets) as well as its back alleys and empty lots will frame and illustrate the lives of young Matt and his friends,” according to a release. Raised on Capitol Hill, Smith attended St Joseph’s Elementary, the setting for his monologue “comedy grounded in his Catholic education, racism, and the joys and horrors that are male adolescence,” according to the press release announcing the production. A snippet of that monologue and film background is scripted in an earlier CHS article.

According to the release:

Smith will play all the parts in the film, from his 8th grade self to the nuns of St. Joseph’s parish to the various kids, some innocent, some dangerously rough, who populated his world. The movie will mix performances shot in front of a live audience with scenes shot on location, adding texture and context to Smith’s vivid tales.

The film crew is currently looking for “1960s-era pictures of Meany Junior High, Seattle Prep, and St. Joseph’s school (ideally with students in the shot),” a July 2 post from the My Last Year With the Nuns Facebook page says. That film crew also contains some familiar faces in the area.

Capitol Hill Housing’s Michael Seiwerath will wrangle a producer role for the film while  Bret Fetzer, former theater editor for The Stranger, will direct the nun-disciplined Smith. The rest of the film crew is rounded out by:

Seattle cinematographer Ben Kasulke, recently nominated for a Genius Award by The Stranger, will helm the camera. He is joined by an impressive crew of veteran Northwest artistic talent, including editor Sean Donavan (My Effortless Brilliance, Improvement Club), Production Designer Tania Kupcheck, Sound Mixer Vinny Smith, and Gaffer Kevin Cook.

Matt Smith performing his "My Last Years with Nuns" Play -- Via Facebook page, photo by Michael Seiwearth

Matt Smith performing his “My Last Years with Nuns” Play — Via Facebook page, photo by Michael Seiwearth

With local talent in tow, Smith will add to his acting resume which includes a mailman role in “Sleepless in Seattle,” four solo performances and more.

So don’t be alarmed when you see a grown man on Capitol Hill portraying an 8th grade Catholic school student this week, that’s just Smith doing what he does best.

You can keep track of the production at facebook.com/mylastyearwiththenuns

Capitol Hill’s The Egyptian movie theater slated to close

(Image: Landmark Theatres via Facebook)

(Image: Landmark Theatres via Facebook)

Call it a sign of things to come. The curtains never rose for Saturday’s midnight showing of the classic Casablanca at the old Masonic temple that has become Capitol Hill’s Egyptian Theatre. The audience was told the projector was broken. Somebody else said it was a digital rights expiration issue. Whatever the cause, the disappointed crowd had better get used to a dark screen at E Pine and Harvard.

After more than 30 years of independent film, The Egyptian will go dark at the end of the month, according to people familiar with the situation. We have not yet confirmed details with management or the building’s owners.

It’s not yet clear what will come next for the old movie theater transformed by the creators of the Seattle International Film Festival and operated by indie film house Landmark Theatres since 1989.


(Image: CHS)

Like the Egyptian itself, the Mark Cuban-backed Landmark chain has seen better days. In 2011, the investor put the company on the block in an effort to recoup massive investment in the theater chain. No buyer came forward. Meanwhile, the further erosion of the movie theater business coupled with new, more nimble, better financed competition has put the chain in an even more precarious place. Upgrades at The Egyptian and its sister Landmark venue The Harvard Exit as well as the other Landmarks Seattle locations have been mostly limited to changes like the addition of latte bars at the Capitol Hill outlets a few years back. Next month, Sundance Cinemas will re-open the former Landmark Metro location in the University District with “reserved seating, big comfy seats with tablettes, stadium seating, brand new digital projection, a new full bar serving drinks and bistro fare.”

We’re still confirming details around The Egyptian but it sounds like it’s not just about a challenged industry. Employees have shared with audience members that they were told the theater’s management was not preparing for the closure and that the situation with the building’s landlord has come about suddenly. A review of property records shows that the building once owned by the Seattle Community College system was part of a round of Sound Transit acquisition related to the U-Link light rail project.

We’re checking with Sound Transit to learn more about the $1.5 million price tag in the 2010 transaction and the building’s current relationship, if any, with the school. UPDATE: We’re also waiting on more information from SCCC. As for the Sound Transit transaction, another record we found indicates that the comment below is correct — Seattle Colleges is the property’s owner and the 2010 transaction was related to the tunnel easement. The $1.5 million value from the records is the original purchase price paid in 1992. Sorry for the confusion and mistake regarding the property records. UPDATE Monday 6/17/13 9:28 AM: Seattle Central tells CHS that the theater chain made the decision to leave. “Landmark Theatre declined renewing its lease with the college and said it would move out by the end of June,” a spokesperson tells CHS. “No decision has been made on what will happen to the theater space next.” UPDATE 6/17/13 9:45 AM: Local representatives for Landmark said they are not authorized to comment on the closure and referred CHS to the corporate offices in New York. We have confirmed that the rumored last night for the theater will, indeed, be June 27th.

The 1915-built masonry building continues to host Seattle Central facilities in addition to the theater. The three-story building appeared in a survey of Seattle masonry buildings that don’t appear to meet current seismic standards. There are currently no records listed with the city indicating plans for any near-term construction at the site.

As for movie end of things, Sunday’s first showing of Before Midnight was slated to begin as scheduled and a short line formed prior to showtime in the Father’s Day sunshine. The theater will continue to operate through the end of the month, we’re told. Next weekend’s midnight movie, if you’re feeling especially nostalgic, will be Brazil, the tale of “a dystopian world in which there is an over-reliance on poorly maintained (and rather whimsical) machines.”

“European cut” ending, of course.

UPDATE 9:20 PM: No further information from the theater or the school yet at this point.

We’ve reported on the changing real estate portfolio of SCCC in recent months including a possible expansion at this Beacon Hill medical facility. Meanwhile, the school is also considering a multitude of new development even as it overhauls many portions of its crowded classrooms. Despite an enrollment drop throughout the system, SCCC has found its facilities squeezed by the nearly 18,800 students it currently serves. Though it nixed plans to build a project with Capitol Hill Housing on property it already owns on Broadway, the school is very much in the mix for being part of the development around the Capitol Hill Station light rail facility where it could build a 105-foot student housing project if the cards play out. In March, CHS reported the school was planning to pull its Erickson Theatre property back into use for class space.

The school’s Broadway Performance Hall continues to be used as a performance venue though it, too, has recently been used more frequently for lectures and instruction. The venue is regularly booked with what might best be described as an eclectic mix of concerts, local performances and recitals as well as the occasional forum — like this recent session about the possible “death” of Capitol Hill as we know it.

UPDATE 10:13 PM: If you’re looking for glimmers of hope, in addition to the upcoming Sundance opening showing that somebody out there still thinks there’s a market for movie theaters, SIFF moved in and reopened the Uptown Theater in late 2011. Given the festival’s historical and ongoing connection with the Egyptian, a similar pairing with SCCC would be an intriguing and positive outcome to the situation at 801 E Pine.

UPDATE Monday, 6/17/13 8:45 AM: We made mention of the aborted showing of Casablanca and a reference to a “digital rights” issue. Here’s an account from one person in attendance who shared the details with CHS:

It was after the saturday night showing of Casablanca was cancelled. They unfortunately took a minute before the showing to tell us about the closure. I say unfortunately because there was an electronic/computer timer on the movie for how long they could show it.. I guess it was digital. It seems the “Midnight Movie” was actually timed out at 11:59 pm. It wouldn’t play. About 45 minutes later when we were all getting refunds in the lobby [redacted] told us the story of what was going on.. Basicly a double suck. I worked at a movie theater (the Uptown) growing up. Really hate to see the Egyptian go.

The tipper said Egyptian’s management contacted the vendor for an updated code but didn’t receive an answer in time to salvage the showing.