It's the film festival for Attention Deficit Disorder sufferers: Short films play continuously from noon until 10:30 at night. Actually, this format is perfect for seeing shorts. You can drop in anytime all weekend long, whenever you have a spare 20 minutes between seeing Jane Goodall's chimp talk and Dead Moon. This year the One Reel Film Festival is keeping its basic structure, but with much improved venue—shorts will play constantly at the Leo Kreielsheimer Theater on Friday and at Intiman for the rest of the weekend. With a bigger budget, One Reel has added more international films, with 27 of the 100 films from abroad. It's also beefed up some of the thematic programming, offering programs sponsored by Mira! (the Latino Film Festival, Leo K. Theater, Fri 1-1:50), the Lesbian and Gay Film Festival—including Dinner Party, a short film by High Art director Lisa Cholodenko, (Intiman, Mon 2-2:50), and by WigglyWorld, the post-production studio, which will present an hour of local shorts (Leo K. Theater, Fri 4-4:50).
A few high points:
The Man with the Movie Camera—Getting an opportunity to see Dziga Vertov's wildly influential primer on filmmaking is rare enough. Here you get icing on the cake: It's shown with an original score by the Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet. Leo K. Theater, Fri 9:30. —Claire Dederer
Human Remains—Do you only have a single testicle? Do you like chamomile tea? Are you short? You may have a future as a totalitarian despot. Jay Rosenblatt's extraordinary film chronicles the lives of the men who only need one name (and I don't mean Fabio): Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, Franco. Their own words—which reveal the strange traits listed above—are read aloud over newsreel footage and still photos. The homeliness of the meditations makes them all the more unsettling. Hitler didn't like nature. Mussolini loved the aforementioned chamomile. Stalin fretted about Svetlana's tight sweaters. Franco adored TV. Mao never bathed. ("My genitals were washed in the bodies of my women.") You would think that hearing Hitler confessing his love of chocolate eclairs would somehow humanize him, but it has utterly the opposite effect, making him all the more monstrous. If you can only get to one film, make it this astonishing document. Intiman, Sat between 3 and 3:50. —Claire Dederer
Burlesque series—A series of old burlesque films, including footage of Marilyn when she was still Norma Jean, and some salacious old vaudeville pieces. Northwest Court, Sat 9-10:30. —Claire Dederer
Loverboy—A disturbing black-and-white noir/nightmare sequence/child's fantasy about an amputee living in the walls of a tumble-down house and the team of children who bring about his demise. Visually reminiscent of Charles Burnett's early work, such as 1977's Killer of Sheep. Intiman, Mon between 6 and 6:50. —Claire Dederer
Chicago Cab—The Seattle premiere of a new indie feature. "Welcome to hell. I hate this motherfucking job!" yells the cabbie (the wild-eyed Paul Dillon)—and it's just the beginning of his 16-hour shift. We're in Chicago, a few days before the Christmas season (it's bitter cold out there, or so they tell us). Our chatty cabbie small-talks to a succession of rich assholes, poor slobs, bickering couples, street punks looking to score drugs, and a lot of lonely people. It's not a bad idea, using the brief, surface contacts of the cabbie (he remains appropriately nameless) and passengers as a metaphor for loneliness. However, directors Mary Cybulski and John Tintori fail to give any real weight to the encounters or to the passengers themselves. We never feel the cabbie's stress, his exhaustion, even the nasty cold that doesn't really seem to affect anyone. But the film does manage to deliver in a pair of poignant, powerful scenes that end the film. Intiman, Sun 4-5:50; Q&A to follow. —Sean Axmaker