Category Archives: Film & TV

Support Your Local Indie Movie Houses This Valentine’s Weekend

Moulin-Rouge-0004Sure, Valentine’s Day is just a memorial to a few brutally-executed Catholic martyrs that’s morphed into a cash-grab by candy makers, florists, and retailers of all stripes over the last century. And the pressure of having to invest as much money as possible for the sake of A Romantic Night or Weekend can be overwhelming.

But you can still find a through-line between thoughtful sentiment and fiscal sensibility this weekend. A trip to a movie theater provides an inexpensive-yet-satisfying (and yes, oft-romantic) entertainment experience. Skip the multiplexes and treat your date to a film in a local independent theater, dammit: Indie theaters usually run cheaper, they’ve got a helluva lot more character and charm, they tend to attract more discerning and polite patrons, and you’ll see something way more interesting than your standard corporate-excreted product. Enclosed, please find our recommendations for the most apropos (and in some cases, strangest) films hitting local indie theaters this Valentine’s Weekend.

Harold and Maude (6:45 p.m. tonight, Saturday, and Sunday)—SIFF Cinema Uptown, $12 general admission, $7 for SIFF members: Hal Ashby’s 1971 romantic comedy definitely shows its seams in some places—ancillary characters are almost cartoonishly underdeveloped, and some of its attempts at black humor fall a little flat—but there’s no denying the magical chemistry that imbues the odd couple at its center. Baby-faced proto-goth Bud Cort and seventy-something spitfire Ruth Gordon both deliver career-best performances, and Ashby and screenwriter Colin Higgins develop these characters so sharply that they effectively extinguish any quibbles. Cat Stevens’ plainspoken and sweet soundtrack songs never fail to tug at the heartstrings (not surprisingly, SIFF’s organizing pre-screening Cat Stevens sing-alongs).

Moulin Rouge (various times tonight, Saturday, and Sunday), True Romance (9:00 p.m. tonight, Saturday, and Sunday)—Central Cinema, $7 general admission for each: Do not, we repeat, do not lame out and watch Moulin Rouge on Netflix or On Demand this weekend. Catch Baz Luhrmann’s still-ravishing pastiche of MGM musicals, MTV flash, Bollywood splashiness, and swoon-worthy romance on a big screen as God (and Luhrmann) intended. And speaking of swoon-worthy romance, don’t discount the Tony Scott-directed/Quentin Tarantino-scripted True Romance. Beneath its violence, nerd-centric references, profanity, and stoned Brad Pitt-isms resides a resonant story of two damaged lovers (Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette) finding redemption and mutual strength in each other’s arms. As is customary, Central Cinema sports a full meal menu for all screenings.

Gone with the Wind (11:00 a.m. Saturday), Guys and Dolls (4:15 p.m Saturday), Some Like It Hot (8:00 p.m. Saturday)—Cinerama, $15 each plus service fees: It romanticizes the antebellum South to an absurdly wrongheaded degree, but damned if the 1939 Best Picture Oscar winner Gone with the Wind isn’t the most breathlessly-paced and absorbing four-hour film you’ll ever see, replete with two of Golden Age Hollywood’s most luminous stars (Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable) and scenes of epic splendor sure to make full use the Cinerama’s massive screen. Later that afternoon, hear Frank Sinatra clean Marlon Brando’s clock vocally in the 1955 film adaptation of Guys and Dolls, and wind up the evening with a screening of Billy Wilder’s howlingly funny 1959 gangster/drag opus, Some Like it Hot. Bonus: The Cinerama’s upgraded its snack, food, and drink repertoire.

R100 (various times tonight, Saturday, and Sunday), VHSex 3 (9:00 p.m. Saturday February 14)—Grand Illusion Cinema, $9 general admission each/$5 each for Grand Illusion members: Forget the antiseptic diet-BDSM being relentlessly flogged at local multiplexes. If you want some real cinematic sexual subversion this weekend, get thee to the Grand Illusion for both of these presentations. The former is a warped Japanese comedy about an S&M-addicted milquetoast facing a succession of extremely angry dominatrices. Critics have definitely smiled on it much more than the aforementioned BDSM-lite product, for what it’s worth. VHSex 3, meantime, throws two hours worth of truly demented sexually-explicit and just plain batshit-crazy clips (lovingly collected from vintage VHS tapes) at the unsuspecting audience. Much cheesy Casio synth music, bare flesh, and mulletude shall hold sway, and if the last two VHSex compilations are any indication, this third entry should be the perfect weirdo antidote to all of the hearts-and-flowers sentiment in the air tomorrow.

My Bloody Valentine (10:00 p.m. tonight)—Blue Mouse Theatre, $5: If you’re the kind of person who prefers their Valentine’s Day hearts ripped from screaming teenagers, rejoice. There aren’t any new horror films hitting local screens this weekend (studios traditionally bust out at least one new shocker on Friday the 13th), but Tacoma’s oldest independent movie theater (92 years young and counting) has your back with tonight’s addition to their Friday Night Frights series. This evening, they present the original uncut and uncensored version of one of the most fondly-remembered chillers of the early 1980’s. My Bloody Valentine pretty much skews to the slasher formula, but it’s also packed with extremely effective scares and maintains a genuinely foreboding atmosphere. Seeing the movie at this venerable theater is well worth the trek south if you’re in Seattle. See it with someone you love.

 

 

Walk the Camino Again Tonight

Portland director Lydia B. Smith’s documentary Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago more than made its mark in Seattle earlier this year. The movie’s theatrical run at SIFF Cinema Uptown last winter extended to a whopping 11 weeks, and the last several months have seen the film rack up a tassel of film festival awards and surprising financial success (it’s become one of 2014’s top-grossing documentaries).

All of that makes the movie’s encore screening/DVD release party at the Uptown tonight seem as much like a homecoming as anything. Local fans of the film will be able to savor the movie’s stunning Spanish scenery and genial good vibes on a big screen one more time, and take the movie home on DVD or Blu-Ray to boot.

Walking the Camino focuses on six travelers taking a 500-mile pilgrimage across Spain to Santiago de Compostela, a city that reputedly houses the remains of the apostle St. James. The journey’s been a source of spiritual enlightenment, discovery, and even punishment for centuries (criminals back in the day were often able to walk off their sentences by making the long trek by foot).

The tapestry of land stretched before travelers provides ample visual evidence as to the journey’s allure. Fields of verdant grass often stretch for as far as the eye can see, only occasionally cut by streams and not-always-paved roads. Tall grasses and fulsome vineyards surface and recede. And most of the cathedrals and rustic villages scattered along the way look blissfully untouched by time. Smith and her crew have definitely crafted a labor of love here: The director took the trek herself a year before returning with a film crew to capture the journey of other Camino pilgrims, and the entirety of Walking the Camino unapologetically saunters through the Spanish countryside.Walking the Camino.

 

The movie’s subjects cut a wide demographic swath, and their inclusion elevates Walking the Camino above simple travelogue status. Canadian septuagenarian Wayne walks as a tribute to his late wife; Tomas, a young Portugese businessman with a matinee-idol smile, takes the journey on a whim, only narrowly choosing it over a summer of kite-surfing; French single mom Tatiana drags her 3-year-old son Cyrian and her funny kid brother Alexis along for her pilgrimage; and Sam, a charismatic young woman from Brazil by way of the UK, hikes the 800-kilometer route in an attempt to sort out the self-confessed messiness of her life.

Walking the Camino sometimes leans a bit too heavily on comfort-food new-ageism, and Smith doesn’t spend quite as much time with each individual as you’d like (likely a concession to length and attention-span compromises). But you’d have to be a shin-kicking Grinch to not be powerfully moved by moments like Wayne pulling back tears as he reminisces about his wife’s passing. And just when things begin to get pedantic, Smith and her crew capture some moment that’ll take your breath away. It’s hard to split hairs when you’re gazing at an impossibly scenic Spanish valley swaddled fetchingly in morning mist.

[Tickets and more information on tonight’s 7:00 p.m. screening and DVD launch of Walking the Camino can be found here.]

TSB interview: Prom Queen’s Leeni Ramadan on her ambitious, new album/DVD Midnight Veil

promqueen

It was only a few minutes after sitting down for my interview with Seattle visionary Leeni Ramadan that she was getting asked to play a show by a nearby diner that she knows at the Capitol Hill restaurant we were meeting at. That show, at the Blue Moon on Halloween night with the Country Lips, marks the first of two shows that she’ll be performing this weekend as Prom Queen, her retro-influenced pop band. The other will be as the Tractor as part of KEXP DJ Greg Vandy’s Dia De Los Muertos show at the newly-remodeled Sunset.

But that’s only part of what I want to talk about. We’re meeting on the eve of the release of her new album/DVD Midnight Veil. It’s an ambitious project that features twelve, luxurious pop songs with accompanying music videos. The videos set the tone of the songs, and they feature several prominent Seattle-area burlesque performers like Kitten LaRou, Lou Henry Hoover, Inga Ingenue, Fuscia Foxx, and Lily Verlaine. It’s a cohesive and compelling work, and an unqualified success. It’s available for viewing here, or purchase here.

I meet up with Leeni to talk about this new project, her background in Chiptune/8-bit music and improv, and what she has coming next.

How did Midnight Veil come to be?

I had this collection of songs for a while. I had this idea because I do video for my job; it would be really cool to have the whole thing be a watchable album from start to finish. I made one video for a song called “Night Sound” on my first album, with a pole dancer friend of mine, Noelle Wood. I liked the idea of a music video centered around a single starlet or performer. I thought it would be cool if there was one central figure in each of the songs, like the one I did for Noelle. I know so many burlesque performers and dancers and people that had the right look for a song. I also know so many great locations in Seattle from doing video work.

I knew it would be possible if I had a successfully-funded Kickstarter. That worked out so we moved forward with it.

The first time I became aware of the things you’re working on, you were involved with making 8-bit music and were also heavily involved in improv, and plus a host of other creative ventures. Was there a process that led into this DVD/album?

I think it all happened gradually. I had been doing improv for about 15 years and I learned that while I love the immediacy of improv and how spontaneous it is, I missed being able to make something with intent and with legs and that lasts. I like making video for that reason: you can create something you can go back to over and over again.

I became more and more passionate about music and I stopped doing improv because I wanted to focus on things that had more intent and production value. Improv is a great tool to have in my tool belt and I’m still grateful to know how to do it, but it’s hard to devote my time to it when I have so many other artistic passions.

For chiptune music, I did that for a really long time, too. I still haven’t completely given it up but I felt like I got to a point where I didn’t have any more ideas with it and it started to get stale. I also liked the idea of producing with other people using different sounds. I branched out and did Romeo + Juliet. Through that band, I got into doing more retro-sounding productions, and that’s where Prom Queen came from.

Making a music video for each song sounds pretty ambitious. What made you want to embark on that?

I think I’m a very visual person and for each song, I had these snapshots in my head. I love Pinterest for that because I was able to make Pinterest pages for each of the vague ideas I had in my mind for each of the videos. From that, we were able to make storyboards and we were able to flesh it out from there. It happened very gradually. It starts with a stylistic idea or a single shot you have an idea for and it spiders out from there.

There are also some things that happen as happy accidents while you’re filming, where you don’t know what’s going to happen but then this cool location presents itself. There’s a lot of give-and-take with that process because we’re working on such a small budget.

When you talked about having a starlet or dancer in mind for each video, which came first, that idea or the song?

I think I always had performers that I wanted to work with. It wasn’t until I had a really specific vision for a song… Like Fuchsia Foxx is one of my favorite performers in Seattle and I will look up these performers on YouTube and there isn’t really anything great of them. I see them perform week after week and they perform constantly and they are so hard-working but that was never really captured. So I wanted to capture some of these amazing performers that I see all the time.

And from that mental bank of people that I wanted to work with, I was able to plug them into these ideas. Everyone I wanted to work with said yes. I’m really happy with how it came out.

I’ve written about burlesque a little bit over the years, writing a piece on the Atomic Bombshells and I’ve interviewed Lily Verlaine, who I know is in Midnight Veil, and you’re right, when you look on YouTube for videos, it’s almost all cell phone videos from shows at the Triple Door, or wherever.

Yes! It’s almost all cellphone videos that are of really crummy quality. We had Lily Verlaine in one of the videos and her family flipped over it. They never get to see her like that and she just lights up the screen. It’s really lovely.

How long did Midnight Veil take from beginning to end?

It did take us a whole year. We started in August of last year and we wrapped production in May. We screened it for the first time in June. The film was essentially done at that point. But it took the rest of the summer to figure out ways to make it a product and how I wanted to release it. It’s finally done now. From the beginning of recording the songs until the release date, it’s been about a year and a half. And it’s been a solid year and a half. I haven’t taken any time off or anything.

With Prom Queen being a band who plays live music, but the Midnight Veil project is so visual, how do you convert it into a live show?

So far we’ve been playing the whole movie and playing a live set afterward. Eventually we all want to get to a point where we can play along with the movie. It will take a lot of rehearsal time. We play to some backing tracks live now so it’s not a big difference but it’s still enough that it would take us a long time to develop that. We want to make sure that when we roll that out, it’s the right venue and the right time. We’re going to work on that.

For now, it’s a really cool piece of merchandise we get to sell at the show.

Tell me about your band, please.

I love my band, they’re just the greatest. Tom Myers is the drummer. His other is Thee Emergency and he sometimes plays with Country Lips. He has a recording studio called Ground Control Recording and that’s where he mixed the album. He’s great at all of that, but he’s also a fantastic drummer. At every show, you’ll see me and him.

For guitars, we sort of switch off. Jason Goessl plays with us and tours with us most of the time. He’s got a surf rock band called the Pornadoes and they’re great. He also has a project called Sundae and Mr. Goessl with Kate Voss. It’s a ‘30s jazz duo and they’re so good. He’s probably the best guitarist I’ve ever seen, such a virtuoso.

I also work with Ben Von Wildenhaus, who is this wonder to behold. He’s this amazing guitar player and amazing musician overall, but he’s also the most mesmerizing performer you’ll ever see. He does solo shows a lot and I always bring people out to see him because it’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever seen. It’s very David Lynch, moody, and cinematic. I met him because we were doing solo shows together. We played a show together in an art gallery and I asked him if he would ever want to play with Prom Queen and be in a band, and he said yes. So he was actually the first member of the band.

I’ve played with a lot of band members, but the core is Tom, Ben, and Jason.

When can people see Midnight Veil next?

We’re doing a screening on November 5 at Central Cinema. I’m also talking to the Northwest Film Forum about doing a screening sometime. From there, I don’t know. We’re going to apply to play SXSW with it, and try to get it into film and music festivals wherever we can and see how many places we can get it screened.

Is there anything specifically that you want to happen from this project?

Obviously, I’d like people to hear the music, that’s the most important part. Also, I’d like people to know that there are a lot of hard-working artists in Seattle and I wanted to shine a light on them. It’s not just about Prom Queen or just about me, but about all of these amazing performers I know that have worked so hard. We’re all doing it for the love of it. We don’t make a lot of money. All of these burlesque performers and actresses musicians and all of the people who are in the film work extremely hard at their craft and are very talented but we’re all scraping by. I want people to see the magnificence of this collection of people that I know.

 

The SunBreak’s Guide to the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

This Thursday, the annual Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival opens for the nineteenth time. It features an impressive 51 feature films, 112 short films, and from 32 different countries and runs through Sunday, October 19. The opening night film is Back on Board, a documentary about Greg Louganis, the Olympic diving champion, who is scheduled to attend (see review below). Movies will be screened at Pacific Place, the Harvard Exit, Northwest Film Forum, and the newly-reopened Egyptian.

Other highlights include appearances from Louganis, Matthew Lillard, Ronnie Sanlo, Mario Diaz, and several other directors and producers of films playing throughout the festival.

Of the films we’ve seen thus far:

gregl

Back on Board (dir. Cheryl Furjanic, 87 minutes; screens on Thursday, October 9 at 7:30pm at the Egyptian)

The opening night film for SLGFF is a look in the life of Greg Louganis, the impossible-to-dislike Olympic diving champion (Louganis has won four gold medals). It goes in depth in through Louganis’s life, but its most important contribution to cinema is that it shows the real-life implications of homophobia as Louganis strives for acceptance in diving after coming out of the closet and revealing himself to be HIV+ and wonders if he’ll even be hired by anyone after his revelations. Back on Board also succeeds in humanizing one of the great Olympic heroes as the film details Louganis’s struggle to hold on to his house, powerless to the mighty (and 100% evil) Bank of America. And Larry King can really ask some assholish questions.

{Director Cheryl Furjanic and Greg Louganis scheduled to be in attendance at the screening.}

limited

Limited Partnership (dir: Thomas G. Miller, 77 minutes; screens on Saturday, October 11 at 12:30pm at the Egyptian)

A documentary that looks at the forty-year relationship between Australian-born Tony Sullivan and Filipino American Richard Adams, the first couple to be issued a same sex marriage license in the United States. It was in Boulder, CO in 1975. It shows the history between then and now, reminding us that a time when the government could actually send a letter denying their legally-issued marriage license by saying they “have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots.” The callousness from the government is staggering, but thankfully love continues to win out in courthouses and ballot boxes throughout the nation. It took long enough. One “Donahue” audience member warns of dangers like if gay marriage is allowed, next thing you know, they’ll want to file their taxes together and take out insurance polices together. Heaven forbid!

night

Out in the Night (dir. Blair Dorosh-Walther, 75 minutes; screens on Saturday, October 11 at 4:45pm at the Egyptian)

It was an August night in 2006 in New Jersey. Four friends fought back against a man who was harassing them and it led to a media sensation. Out in the Night aims to set the record straight for how much misinformation for how the incident was covered. Bill O’Reilly and others couldn’t resist the appeal of a “killer lesbian gang.” They were convicted of the assault even though they proclaimed their innocence. The documentary feels a little uneven and awkwardly paced, but it point it makes about the unfairness of the justice system to queer, black women is a strong one. I just hope that people who are unsympathetic or unaware of the film’s thesis see it.

sontag

Regarding Susan Sontag (dir: Nancy Kates, 100 minutes; screens on Sunday, October 12 at 2:30pm at the Northwest Film Forum)

The SIFF 2014 favorite, and Golden SunBreak Award winner, returns to Seattle for an encore screening at the SLGFF. It succeeds in making the impenetrable author and cultural critic accessible to an audience, exploring Sontag’s personal life and such famous essays as “Notes on Camp” and “On Photography.” Read my interview with director Nancy Kates here.

rollerderby

In the Turn (World premiere; dir. Erica Tremblay, 90 minutes; screens on Saturday, October 18 at Pacific Place at 7:15; free reception at Gordon Biersch following the screening)

Part of roller derby’s greatness is that it’s where you can see a bout that has the Vagine Regime pitted against the Caulksuckers. The other part of roller derby’s greatness is explored in this movie: its inclusiveness. In the Turn shows several stories of queer and trans people who were accepted by the Vagine Regime when they were not welcome in other sports. It’s touching to see how each story is told; the personal detail that director Erica Tremblay gets for each participant is engrossing. Some tales are romantic, others (including a young trans girl) feeling accepted for the first time because of roller derby. It’s a wonderful thing that the benefits attributed to sports can be found in roller derby participants. Via la Vagine Regime!

Here is more official news for SLGFF events that you should know about, directly from SLGFF:

GALAS

Opening Night Gala

BACK ON BOARD: GREG LOUGANIS (Director: Cheryl Furjanic)

Thursday, October 9 at 7:30 PM at SIFF CINEMA Egyptian

With preternatural talent and grace, Greg Louganis became a legendary Olympic diver, even as homophobic teammates refused to bunk with him and sponsors denied him lucrative endorsements. And while his victory after being injured at the 1988 Olympics is cemented in public consciousness and his name is now a household word, few know the real, remarkable behind-the-scenes story. BACK ON BOARD won the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature at Outfest 2014.

Closing Night Gala

LIFE PARTNERS (Director: Susanna Fogel)

Sunday, October 19 at 6:30 PM at AMC Pacific Place

Sasha (Leighton Meester) and her straight friend Paige (Gillian Jacobs) share everything. Both date now and then, with little luck-until Paige meets Tim (Adam Brody) and starts to fall for him. That’s when the trouble begins: Sasha goes for late-night snacks at the local drive-through and starts dating a collection of girls, including the quirky Trace (Kate McKinnon).

Centerpiece Gala

BLACKBIRD (Director: Patrik-Ian Polk)

Sunday, October 12 at 7:30 PM at SIFF CINEMA Egyptian

Director Patrik-Ian Polk, who has thrilled packed houses at our festival with premieres of NOAH’S ARC (SLGFF 2004) and NOAH’S ARC: JUMPING THE BROOM (SLGFF 2008), returns with a heartfelt and hopeful drama that boasts a vibrant soundtrack and a gifted cast, including newcomer Julian Walker and Academy Award-winner Mo’nique. Randy (Walker) is a model high school student and a dutiful son who prays, behaves, and sings in the choir. But he’s unable to abate his frequent and increasingly sexy fantasies about other boys.

Centerpiece Gala

APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR (Director: Desiree Akhavan)
Wednesday, October 15 at 7:00 PM at SIFF Cinema Egyptian

Attractive twentysomething Shirin (Desiree Akhavan) is seriously on the rebound after her difficult breakup with Maxine (Rebecca Henderson), whom she is still pining after. In an attempt to forget her and move on, Shirin dives into the world of casual sex in NYC. Between a threesome, one-night stands, and the limitless OkCupid dating pool, she’s got a lot of options for distraction. But it’s going to be difficult hiding her pansexual adventures from her Persian parents, who are accustomed to Shirin being their straight, rule-abiding daughter. APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR won the Emerging Female Filmmaker Award at the Provincetown International Film Festival and the Grand Jury Prize for Best Screenwriting at the 2014 Outfest. Desiree Akhavan will be appearing in the series GIRLS in 2015.

Centerpiece Gala

MATCH (Director: Stephen Belber)
Friday, October 17 at 7:15 PM at AMC Pacific Place

Tobi (Patrick Stewart) has always been a dancer. Now a ballet instructor, he lives his life as a gay man in his cozy apartment in NYC. He is single and likes it that way. Tobi’s solitary world is suddenly disrupted when a young Seattle-based couple (Carla Gugino and Matthew Lillard) visit his home with the pretense of interviewing him about his life in the dance world during the ’60s. Brilliantly acted (with a true star turn for Patrick Stewart) and based on the Tony-nominated play, MATCH is a thought-provoking, intense, and brilliant conversation about art, family, and life’s divergent paths.

FILMS WITH PARTIES

52 TUESDAYS

Thursday, October 16 at 7:00 PM
Free reception at Wildrose 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM

While young Billie watches her mum transition into James, she decides to film her own sexual awakening with her pals Jasmine and Josh.

CLUB KING
Saturday, October 11 at 9:15 PM

Party to follow at Rebar 10:30 PM – 2:00 AM. Ticket or Pass required.
Meet Mario Diaz, the Seattle native who’s behind the hottest, sexiest, most outrageous parties on the queer nightlife circuit!

BROKEN GARDENIAS

Monday, October 13 at 7:15 PM

Free reception at Pony 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Street hustler Sam takes awkward Jenni’s hand, and they embark on a road trip to LA to find out what’s happened to Jenni’s father.

GERONTOPHILIA

Friday, October 10 at 7:00 PM

Free reception at True Love Art Gallery and Tattoo 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM

Handsome 18-year-old Lake and nursing home resident Melvin Peabody escape on a romantic seaside adventure. Love and sexuality have no bounds in Bruce LaBruce’s touching and sensitive award-winning film.

I FEEL LIKE DISCO

Tuesday, October 14 at 7:00 PM

Free reception at Diesel 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM
As a pudgy teen who loves disco and struggles with his sexuality, Flori’s overbearing dad just doesn’t get him at all. When Flori’s mom is suddenly gone, father and son must reconcile their relationship in this stellar coming-of-age dramatic comedy.

IN THE TURN

Saturday, October 18 at 7:15 PM
Free reception at Gordon Biersch 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Bring your pack and your tissues. Get ready for the raw excitement of roller derby as seen through the eyes of the Vagine Regime!

ROSIE

Monday, October 13 at 7:00 PM

Free reception at Pony 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM

Lorenz is a gay writer in Berlin. When Rosie, his independent firecracker of a mother, suddenly collapses, and he moves back to his Swiss hometown.

TRU LOVE

Friday, October 10 at 7:00 PM

Free reception at True Love Art Gallery and Tattoo 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM

Winner of numerous audience awards from LGBT film festivals in Toronto, India, and New Zealand, TRU LOVE is a passionate story of love and redemption.

XENIA

Saturday, October 18  at 7:00 PM

Free reception at Gordon Biersch 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM

Dany and his older brother Ody go on a surreal cross-country road trip in Greece to reunite with their supposedly wealthy father.

CHANCE ENCOUNTERS (SHORTS PROGRAM)

Thursday, October 16 at 7:00 PM

Free reception at Wildrose 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM

One-night stands, love (and lust) at first sight, cruising in the park, and that moment when you realize you’ve finally met The One are what happens when you have a chance encounter.

TOUGH LOVE (SHORTS PROGRAM)

Wednesday, October 15 at 7:00 PM

Free reception at Purr 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM

Certain truths can seem impossible to accept, even if acceptance is the only way toward healing. These films explore the hard truths of love and loss.

TRANSCENDENT: TRANS SHORTS

Tuesday, October 14 at 7:00 PM

Free reception at Diesel 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM

Living stealth as a person of color, parenting, taking on the legal system, and dealing with Asperger’s syndrome are some of the issues addressed in this collection of films that chronicle the diverse experiences of those in the transgender community.

SPECIAL GUESTS

BACK ON BOARD: GREG LOUGANIS

Thursday, October 9 at 7:30 PM

Director Cheryl Furjanic and Greg Louganis in attendance

A richly textured, and poignant journey through Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis’ life with personal interviews of the story behind the scenes and thrilling footage of his breathtaking dives.

APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR

Wednesday, October 15 at 7:00 PM

Special guest in attendance

Breaking up is hard. One-night stands and the endless pool of online dates can keep Shirin busy but what about real connections?

BLACKBIRD

Sunday, October 12 at 7:00 PM

Director, Patrik-Ian Polk and actor, Julian Walker in attendance

Randy’s a model Southern boy, a dutiful son who prays and sings in the choir, but he’s unable to abate his fantasies about other boys.

CLUB KING
Saturday, October 11 at 9:15 PM
Director, Jon Bush, Subject, Mario Diaz in attendance
Meet Mario Diaz, the Seattle native who’s behind the hottest, sexiest, most outrageous parties on the queer nightlife circuit!

IN THE TURN

Saturday, October 18 at 7:15 PM
Director, Erica Tremblay and Producer, Brandon Delgado in attendance
Bring your pack and your tissues. Get ready for the raw excitement of roller derby as seen through the eyes of the Vagine Regime!

LIFE PARTNERS

Sunday, October 19 at 6:30 PM

Director Susanna Fogel in attendance

Sasha (Leighton Meester) and Paige (Gillian Jacobs) are BFFs. When Paige falls for Tim, Sasha starts dating a array of girls to fill the void.

MATCH

Friday, October 17 at 7:15 PM

Director Stephen Belber and actor Matthew Lillard in attendance
Retired dancer Tobi’s (Patrick Stewart) life is suddenly disrupted when a young couple (Carla Gugino and Matthew Lillard) visit his home.

LYLE

Saturday, October 11 at 11:30 PM

Director Stewart Thorndike in attendance

A sharp and scary lesbian homage to ROSEMARY’S BABY starring Gaby Hoffman and Ingrid Jungermann.

BROKEN GARDENIAS

Monday, October 13 at 7:15 PM
Director Kai Alexander and writer and actor Alma S. Grey
Street hustler Sam takes awkward Jenni’s hand, and they embark on a road trip to LA to find out what’s happened to Jenni’s father.

TIGER ORANGE

Saturday, October 11 at 7:00 PM
Director Wade Gasque and actor Mark Strano in attendance

TIGER ORANGE is a drama about the ties that bind. When Todd shows up at his estranged brother Chet’s door disruption ensues!

STATES OF GRACE

Saturday, October 11 at 12:30 PM

Directors Helen Cohen and Mark Lipman in attendance

This moving documentary follows Dalai Lama honoured Dr. Grace Dammann after a terrible accident on the Golden Gate Bridge as she regains her life.

A REUNION

Thursday, October 16 at 9:30PM

Director Hernando Bansuelo and main actors Michael Lovan and Josh Watson in attendance

A REUNION sees Michael returns to LA, where he reconnects with Josh for a road trip to their ten-year college reunion.

LETTER TO ANITA

Saturday, October 11 at 7:30 PM

Director Andrea Meyerson, Subject Ronni Sanlo in attendance

A moving and intimate portrait of a mother who lost custody of her children thanks to Anita Bryant’s infamous anti-gay campaign.

THE DARK PLACE

Saturday, October 18 at 9:45 PM

Producer Carlos Pedraza in attendance

A young man finds himself going back to live with his estranged mother and having to deal with his sinister stepbrother.

ALEC MAPA: BABY DADDY

Thursday, October 16  at 5:00 PM

Director Andrea James, Subject Alec Mapa in attendance

Alec Mapa shines in this biographical documentary focusing on his one-man show and featuring his husband and adopted son.

TRANSCENDENT: TRANS SHORTS

Tuesday, October 14 at 7:00 PM

Sam Berliner, Curator

Living stealth as a person of color, parenting, taking on the legal system, and dealing with Asperger’s syndrome are some of the issues addressed in this collection of films that chronicle the diverse experiences of those in the transgender community.

REEL QUEER YOUTH

Saturday, October 18 at 3:00 PM

Special guests in attendance

Young people are telling their stories. Four short Reel Queer Youth films with other youth-made short films.

OUT (SHORTS PROGRAM)

Sunday, October 12 at 5:00 PM

Leandro Tadashi director of TOMORROW, in attendance

Young love, first heartbreaks, taking chances, coming out: these films take you inside the stories of young people as they navigate growing up queer.

INFRARED V: NEW VISIONS FROM THE QUEER AVANT-GARDE

Saturday, October 11 at 4:45 PM

Malic Amaya curator/ filmmaker in attendance

From the depths of the underground come new works that defy standards of narrative cinema and normative desire-embracing queer culture.

GIRLS SHORTS

Saturday, October 11 at 2:30 PM

Local director Calvin Gimpelevich and Tarnish in attendance

Funny ha-ha or funny queer? These ladies are both! From a road trip to a hotel bar smile, giggle, and maybe even howl with laughter.

DYNAMIC LIVES: QUEER WOMEN OF COLOR (SHORTS PROGRAM)

Saturday, October 18 at 5:00 PM

Gregorio Davila, director of NANCY FROM EASTSIDE CLOVER, in attendance
This collection of documentary shorts presents the histories, achievements, struggles, & everyday lives of several queer women of color.

BOYS SHORTS

Sunday, October 12 at 2:30 PM

Glenn Gaylord, director of IF I TOOK A HOLIDAY; Scott Membry, director of WORD OF THE DAY; Wes Hurley local director of ZOLUSHKA in attendance

Sometimes funny things happen, like dinner interrupted by an ex, singing Madonna impersonators, and queer fairy tales filmed at Pony.

HAPPY END?!

Friday, October 17 at 9:30 PM

Lindy Boustedt and Kris Boustedt, directors of short TOGETHER FOREVER, in attendance

A future lawyer, a secretive singer-songwriter and a road trip. A celebration of life, love and all the quirks in between.

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

THE MUPPET MOVIE

Saturday, October 18 at 12:15 PM

Experience the ultimate “Rainbow Connection” at our family screening of THE MUPPET MOVIE! It’s been 35 years since Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy, and the gang first leapt onto the big screen. “Never Before, Never Again” has there been such an eclectic and colorful menagerie of animals and monsters in one adventure. The muppets will have you “Movin’ Right Along” from the swamps of Florida to the bright lights of Hollywood, with hilarious cameos along the way by Madeline Kahn, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, Carol Kane, Mel Brooks, Cloris Leachman, and more. Comedy, charming music, and fun for folks of all ages…”Can You Picture That?”

REEL QUEER YOUTH

Saturday, October 18 at 3:00 PM

Young people are telling their stories through filmmaking in powerful ways. Three Dollar Bill Cinema, in partnership with Reel Grrls, supports these voices every summer by producing Reel Queer Youth, a weeklong filmmaking and media literacy training program for LGBTQ youth and allies aged 13-20. Four short films made during the 2014 Reel Queer Youth program will be shown before a collection of other youth-made short films. Stay tuned afterward for a Q&A session with the filmmakers.

Greg Lundgren’s CHAT puts the “work” in sex work

chat

The first time I heard about Greg Lundgren’s film CHAT, it was from an article in City Arts called “Sex in Seattle.” It is a one-camera, one-take, 82-minute, Warholian, experimental film about a day in the life of a webcam girl, shot from the POV of the men who enter her chat room. It’s a compelling movie, but it struck me just how sexy it wasn’t.

Rosalie Edholm stars as Rosalie, the webcam model. She works from her nondescript apartment, trying to tantalize men (presumably) into staying in her room and tipping her. When she reaches certain goals for tips, she’ll remove a piece of clothing. But to maintain their interest (and break the monotony), she also converses and will juggle apples or play the violin (neither very well) to attract tippers. At one point, she even invites her elderly and pervy (but creepy in an relatively harmless way) landlord into her apartment. Male gaze was just one of the self-erected (umm.) filters I watched the film through, but titillation is never really an objective for CHAT. If that is a viewer’s objective, they’ll be bored very quickly.

Instead, Lundgren does a very effective job of emphasizing the “work” in sex work. I don’t doubt that the daily life of a webcam model is as tedious. Working in an office seems like more fun. Yet there is some empowerment because Rosalie has a job where she can work from home and set her own hours and her own boundaries. I could see why a job like that would be appealing to someone like Rosalie, someone who is comfortable with her body and enjoys the autonomy and freedom the job allows.

It is set up to be a polarizing film, and one that a significant percentage of people will be bored by (I wasn’t, for what that’s worth). I wondered if the film could sustain itself over 80 minutes, and began wondering that after about 20. But film does have a beginning, middle, and end, and the payoff makes it worth it. It’s also uncomfortably funny at times.

CHAT has only screened once before, and no one is really sure if it’ll screen again. But to bastardize a quote from Brian Eno about the Velvet Underground, only a few hundred people may have seen CHAT, but everyone who did started a conversation about it.

{CHAT plays as part of the Local Sightings Film Festival at Northwest Film Forum on Saturday, September 27 at 7pm, tickets and more info can be found here.}

SIFF celebrates Women in Cinema with mini-festival this weekend

This weekend, SIFF is hosting their annual Women in Cinema mini-festival. It features films from all over the world, including movies from Norway, Argentina, the Philippines, Germany, and Denmark, as well as from Seattle. Lynn Shelton’s newest film Laggies is the opening night film on Thursday evening. This all runs from Thursday, September 18 through Sunday, September 21. Tickets and more information can be found here.

Here are the official descriptions and trailers of all of the feature films playing:

Thursday, September 18

Laggies (USA, dir: Lynn Shelton; 7pm at the Egyptian, 100 minutes)

SIFF sez: “Having spent her twenties comfortably inert, 28-year-old Megan (Keira Knightley) finds herself squarely in an adulthood crisis with no career prospects, no particular motivation to find one and no one to relate to, including her high school boyfriend. Director Lynn Shelton scheduled to attend.”

Friday, September 19

Transit (Philippines, dir: Hanna Espia, 4:30pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown, 93 minutes)

SIFF sez: “This affecting and very timely drama deals with the struggle of an extended Filipino family working in Israel but faced with the prospect of separation when a new law threatens their children with deportation.”

Inbetween Worlds (Germany, dir: Feo Aladag, 7pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown, 102 minutes)

SIFF sez: “German army commander Jesper forms a bond with his Afghani translator, Tarik, as they try to protect a village from the growing Taliban influence. Gorgeously shot on location in Afghanistan and loosely based on several real-life incidents,Inbetween Worlds honestly explores the tense plight of its characters on both sides of the fence.”

Rocks in My Pockets (USA, dir: Signe Baumane, 9:30pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown, 88 minutes)

SIFF sez: “Five fantastical animated tales based on the courageous women of Latvian filmmaker Signe Baumane’s family and their battles with madness.”

Saturday, September 20

Monk With a Camera (USA, dir: Tina Mascara and Guido Santi, 11:30am at SIFF Cinema Uptown, 90 minutes)

SIFF sez: “In this enthralling documentary portrait, Nicholas Vreeland, grandson of fashion icon Diana Vreeland, is headed for life as a high-powered photographer until he undergoes a personal transformation: next stop, life as a Tibetan Buddhist monk.”

Misconception: (USA, dir: Jessica Yu, 1:30pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown, 93 minutes)

SIFF sez: “For almost 50 years, the world’s population has grown at an alarming rate, raising fears about strains on the Earth’s resources. But how true are these claims? Producer Elise Pearlstein scheduled to attend.”

The Last Season (USA, dir: Sara Dosa, 4pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown, 78 minutes)

SIFF sez: “Amid the bustling world of Central Oregon’s wild mushroom hunting camps, two former soldiers discover the means to gradually heal their wounds of war, bonding over the search of the elusive and lucrative matsutake mushroom.  Director Sara Dosa scheduled to attend.”

Kelly & Cal (USA, dir: Jen McGowan, 7:30pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown, 107 minutes)

SIFF sez: “Punk-rocker turned suburban housewife, Kelly (Juliette Lewis), is nostalgic for a life she can no longer have and intimidated by a future she is not sure she wants. Director Jen McGowan scheduled to attend.”

Someone You Love (Denmark, dir: Pernille Fischer Christensen, 9:30pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown, 100 minutes)

SIFF sez: “Thomas Jacob, a famous singer-songwriter, returns to Denmark after having lived abroad for years. After a confrontation with his estranged daughter, he is forced to look after his young grandson, and come to terms with his troubled past.”

Sunday, September 21

Stray Dog (USA, dir: Debra Granik, 4pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown, 105 minutes)

SIFF sez: “From the team behind SIFF favorite Winter’s Bone comes this stunning portrait of Ron ‘Stray Dog’ Hall: a soulful warrior in the US heartland of the US, balancing his struggles to stay afloat with his commitments to his fellow combat veterans, family, and neighbors. Producer Anne Rosellini scheduled to attend.”

Lock Charmer (Argentina, dir: Natalia Smirnoff, 6:30pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown, 77 minutes)

SIFF sez: “Upon learning that his girlfriend is pregnant, 33-year-old locksmith Sebastian begins to have strange visions about his clients.”

I Am Yours (Norway, dir: Iram Haq, 8:30pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown, 96 minutes)

SIFF sez: “A twentysomething single mother in Norway’s expatriate Pakistani community struggles with her dysfunctional relationships with her perpetually disapproving mother, her increasingly neglected child, and her not-committed to her boyfriend in this startlingly assured feature debut by Norwegian actor, singer and filmmaker Iram Haq.”