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.” Continue reading

2020 Seattle Black Film Festival streams this weekend

Delayed and moved online by the COVID-19 crisis, the Seattle Black Film Festival begins Friday with a streamed schedule of screenings and events. The delay makes for a timely arrival of Langston’s annual festival after weeks of Black Lives Matter protests in Seattle and also means a busy weekend for film as the city gets a slow, cooler start start to summer.

No tickets are required to participate in all festival events, but donations to Langston are encouraged. You can find a full schedule and more information at

While the online experience might lack some of the social aspects of attending the festival in person, an online film festival can match much of the urgency of making your way through a packed schedule of screenings and speakers. The event is streamed as a live festival — not an on demand archive: Continue reading

Northwest Film Forum remembers director Lynn Shelton with We Go Way Back stream and chat

Lynn Shelton

Shelton (Image: NWFF)

Capitol Hill’s Northwest Film Forum will honor Seattle filmmaker Lynn Shelton — a director who put so much of the city including Capitol Hill and Central District neighborhoods into her works — with a special live broadcast Thursday:

Director Lynn Shelton passed away suddenly on Friday, May 15th, 2020. A long-time friend of Northwest Film Forum and one of the Seattle film community’s brightest lights, she will be deeply missed.

On Thursday, May 21st, Lynn had planned to chat along to a livestream of her film We Go Way Back on NWFF’s Facebook Videos page. This event will still take place, with the accompanying live chat repurposed as a space to share memories of Lynn.

The livestream event and screening of Shelton’s We Go Way Back will show on the NWFF Facebook page at 6 PM Thursday, May 21st. Continue reading

2020 edition of Translations brings Seattle’s transgender film festival online

Closing night film So Pretty shows Sunday, May 10th

Seattle’s Pride is moving online in 2020. The city’s transgender film festival — now in its 15th year — is, too.

The 2020 edition of the Translations festival, organized by Capitol Hill film nonprofit Three Dollar Bill Cinema, opens Thursday — on small screens across the neighborhood and the world:

Translations: Seattle Transgender Online Film Festival is a groundbreaking film festival that provides the Pacific Northwest with a venue for films by, for, and about transgender, non-binary, and gender-diverse people and the issues facing the community. Launched in 2006, Translations is one of only a few transgender film festivals in the world and places emphasis on visibility and positive representations.

With COVID-19 restrictions shutting down real-world venues, the film festival will brings its works direct to “stay at home” fans. Tickets are being sold at on a sliding $0 to $25 scale or you can buy a festival pass for $75. All proceeds go to support Three Dollar Bill.

Continue reading

Celebrate the neighborhood’s arts — and your seventh week of COVID-19 ‘stay home’ — with the Capitol Hill Arts District Streaming Film Festival

Photographic Center NW & CD Forum opens the festival Wednesday night

COVID-19 has taken its toll on Seattle artists and performers — Many rely on Capitol Hill’s thriving nightlife for gigs and income. With live performances and gatherings on hold, many creatives are suddenly out of work. A new streaming film festival is hoped to bring some of that work and energy into homes around Seattle and the world while raising money to help artists make ends meet.

The Capitol Hill Arts District Streaming Film Festival starts Wednesday and runs through May 3rd featuring a dozen Capitol Hill arts organizations. Facilitated by the Northwest Film Forum, the event is free to all, but purchasing sliding scale festival passes are encouraged. All proceeds will go to the COVID-19 Artists Trust Relief Fund.

Capitol Hill Arts District Streaming Festival 2020

“Given all of the circumstances around COVID-19, with artists really being displaced and out of work, and a lot of people having a difficult time with this, we thought this would be just an excellent opportunity to provide that platform for artists to showcase their work, to provide resources for them, and to connect them with engaging audiences,” said Terry Novak, chair of Capitol Hill Arts District and executive director of Photographic Center Northwest. “I’m very proud of the district and the work that we do, and we’re just happy that we have the resources and the talented team to be putting something together like this,” Continue reading

The future (and current physically restricted state) of Capitol Hill and Central District movie theaters

(Image: Northwest Film Forum)

Remember going to the movies? Watching films on the big screen, the smell of popcorn, and boxes of Milk Duds is already a memory, one that will grow even more distant, according to Capitol Hill-area movie theaters.

Central Cinema is on hiatus, while the Northwest Film Forum has gone online, and has a Capitol Hill Arts District streaming festival in the works. Meanwhile on E Pine, the screen at SIFF Cinema Egyptian and the city’s annual film festival is a no-go.

“We’re shut down completely. We’re in stasis, I should say. We’re not closed closed. Everything is kind of turned off, shut down, cleaned out and unplugged, and put in mothballs as much as possible until we can go back in there and open up again,” Kevin Spitzer, co-owner of 21st and Union’s Central Cinema said. Continue reading

Wallflower, a movie about the Capitol Hill Massacre, finally released and screening in Seattle

“The thing that’s interesting to me, and unique about Wallflower, is this world of joy — at least grasping towards joy as the ravers would. Trying to be happy, intentionally trying to be goofy. It was a very accepting… tight-knit, welcoming community.” (Image: Wallflower)

Wallflower director Jagger Gravning

When, in 2011, Seattle filmmaker Jagger Gravning launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for his movie about the Capitol Hill Massacre, during which a gunman, invited to a rave-afterparty, murdered six people at an E Republican home in the early hours of March 25, 2006, the backlash was swift. Many believed the movie shouldn’t be made.

Now, that movie, Wallflower, is made and ready for its local theatrical release. Wallflower premiered in New York earlier this fall and will screen in Seattle’s Grand Illusion Cinema November 30th to December 3rd.

For Gravning, the road to this point was full of speed bumps and controversy. Before Wallflower premiered in Seattle during the Seattle International Film Festival in 2017, a co-producer pulled back from the project, and an associate producer and survivor told The Stranger she was dismayed at the film’s focus on the perpetrator and how Gravning had mined her PTSD.

But that, Gravning says, wasn’t the reason for the movie’s two-year standstill. Their distributor, as Gravning puts it, had “some issues.” For two years, as financial trouble and wildfires plagued Wallflower’s distribution company, and as its CEO became ill and ultimately passed away, the film’s distribution was put on hold. Now released from contractual obligations and with a new distributor, the film is now finally coming to movie theaters.

Much has changed. Gravning had cancer (he is now in remission), and became the father of a son, who is now three. Mass shootings have become more frequent and more deadly.

And some, Gravning says, have forgotten about the tragedy.

“We rented a house in the U District from college students,” Gravning told CHS about filming the movie back in 2016. “They didn’t even remember. This has been totally forgotten by a whole generation of people. This is a part of our history, really at the cusp of fading away.”

CHS spoke to Gravning about his movie ahead of the release. This Q&A was edited for length and clarity.

The movie retells that history, but parts are fictionalized. What’s Wallflower’s relationship to the event as it happened? 

Regarding the sequence of the shooting and what led up to it and how it all unraveled is exactly correct, as far as I’m aware. Even the clothing he was wearing, the truck he’s driving, the timeline.  Continue reading

CHS Pics | Kinky Boots in Cal Anderson

Three Dollar Bill was forced to scale back its annual schedule of LGBTQ-favorite outdoor movies in Cal Anderson Park this summer after a longtime source of funding from the city fell through thanks to the most bureaucratic of reasons. You missed it.

CHS stopped through Friday night for the only screening of the season, a showing of Kinky Boots that brought out a good crowd on a 70F+ night. The pictures will have to satiate your Three Dollar Bill Cinema appetite for now. More will come. Three Dollar Bill also produces the annual Seattle Queer Film Festival starting October 10th. Continue reading

With new leader, Capitol Hill LGBTQ film nonprofit raises curtain on 23rd Seattle queer film festival

50 Years of Fabulous, a documentary on the The Imperial Council, screens October 20th

Capitol Hill LGBTQ film nonprofit Three Dollar Bill Cinema is celebrating the kickoff of its 23rd annual Seattle queer film festival with a new leader..

TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival 2018

“Three Dollar Bill Cinema is about bringing our community together around queer film and media,” new executive director Ben McCarthy says. “Being able to see ourselves reflected on the screen is really important for our community, and it’s important to come together and see a film in a theater, the way it’s supposed to be seen, rather than on your phone or on your laptop or tablet or even your TV at home.” Continue reading

Filmmaker takes the helm at Capitol Hill’s Northwest Film Forum

(Image: NWFF)

Writer and filmmaker Vivian Hua will take the helm as the executive director of Capitol Hill’s Northwest Film Forum.

After she assumes the role on October 11th, Hua will be in charge of the strategic direction and creative vision of NWFF, a filmmaker’s collective founded in 1995 that uses film to “incite public dialogue and creative action through collective cinematic experiences.”

“There is no more powerful medium than film,” Hua said. “I work at the intersection of using art as a means of social change and discussion.” Continue reading