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Capitol Hill’s Northwest Film Forum centers 2020 Local Sightings festival on underrepresented BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists

From Danny Denial’s CONDITIONER

By Lena Mercer

Though its home screens at 12th Ave’s Northwest Film Forum remain dark, the Local Sightings Film Festival will feature over 135 short films from the Pacific Northwest from September 18th to the 27th. The ten-day event will be fully online this year to accommodate COVID-19 pandemic gathering restrictions. In an effort to maintain affordability during the economic woes of the pandemic all festival passes and programs are available on a sliding scale.

In 2020, Local Sightings has a theme that will resonate after a summer of protests and the nearby CHOP as it “centers BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists” and examines “how film and mediamakers traditionally underrepresented in mainstream media hold perspectives which are vital to furthering the important conversations of the current moment.”

Local filmmaker Danny Denial says that kind of space is something that BIPOC and LGBTQ+ have been fighting for.

“It feels like each movement or wave such as this gets us one step closer. I love that NWFF is committing to that initiative and elevating the artists in that ‘othered’ category.”

The digital nature of the fest’s 23rd year means that a wider audience can enjoy the cinematic experience from their homes and partake in the many programs throughout. The schedule is full of workshops and panels such as the “BIPOC Filmmaker Happy Hour” and an opening night event with Vanishing Seattle.

Local Sightings 2020 at
Friday, September 18th to Sunday, September 27th

Presented by Seattle’s Northwest Film Forum, the 23rd Annual Local Sightings Film Festival [Online] is a virtual showcase of creative communities from throughout the Pacific Northwest. The 2020 program, which runs from September 18-27, features a competitive selection of curated short film programs and feature films, inviting regional artists to experiment, break, and remake popular conceptions around filmmaking and film exhibition. Local Sightings 2020 champions emerging and established talent, supports the regional film industry, and promotes diverse media as a critical tool for public engagement.

NWFF Members: $50
General: Sliding scale, $75–125

Several artists have individual spotlights during the Fest, including Denial a Seattle-based artist and musician. His film CONDiTiONER, a visual collage of music video, personal narrative and collage of brilliantly mastered colors was filmed in Seattle last summer with a cast mostly taken from the Seattle music scene. Places like Kremwerk, Sum Style, and Cry Baby set the backdrop for the film.

Denial describes CONDiTiONER as being at its core, “a surrealist exploration of a musician’s psyche colliding with ego, sexuality and confusion at the turn of a dizzying decade.” As an accomplished musician and artist Denial points to the new tone in this piece. “It’s more introspective and cerebral than my other work, which tends to be more observational and painting broad strokes of the world around me.”With most of his past films either in black or white this was Denial’s first real effort in color, including all the grading and correcting in editing. He’s most proud of the color he says, which shows in the way it creates a “dreamlike world that pushes into new territory”.

As a Black artist in Seattle during a nationwide resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, Denial talked about feeling at times that he was expected to be a mouthpiece for that experience and that, while he draws directly from his experience in his work, he must “be authentic to and protective of” himself as well. “What means (the) most to me is connecting to other people of color who are trying to find their voice in the static, and hopefully empower them in some way,” he said.

The festival’s presentation of the Vanishing Seattle Series, meanwhile, will appeal to those lamenting the loss and costs of change and gentrification in Seattle. The project “documents displaced and disappearing institutions, small businesses and cultures of Seattle – and celebrates the histories, spaces, and communities that give the city its soul” in a series of films looking at change in neighborhoods across the city.

Local Sightings is an opportunity to both partake in and interact with the local art community while the pandemic — and smoke — keeps us all at home. There are many artists to be excited about, according to Denial. “I love what BeautyBoiz is doing in Seattle, and am really looking forward to their block. I’m also really excited to see videos from my favorite local acts like SassyBlack and Warren Dunes! And, of course, Fall Back Down.”

You can find the full schedule and details about the programs at Local Sightings 2020 programs will be on view for the length of the festival but a few events you’ll need to catch live so make sure to check the details.

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