Final SIFF Web Notes

by Sean Axmaker. Posted Friday, 6/04/99.

Scheduled guests for the final weekend (please remember that last minute changes are not uncommon,


SIFF Notes

Late breaking news, and notes from the field on all events SIFF.

Final SIFF Web Notes

by Sean Axmaker. Posted Friday, 6/04/99.

Scheduled guests for the final weekend (please remember that last minute changes are not uncommon, due to guest availability, flights, and conflicts)

* = world premiere

** = American premiere

Friday, June 4

*Freak Talks About Sex: director/writer Paul Todisco, co-writer Michael Galvin and actor Max Casella

*Love Happens: director/write Tony Cookson

*The Basement and the Kitchen: director/star David Fickas and stars Luiggi Debiasse, Mark Kelly, Ric Barbera, Scott Pitts, Terence Winter.

*To Walk With Lions: director Carl Schultz and star Richard Harris

*The Mao Game: director/star Joshua Miller and star Piper Laurie

*This Space Between Us: director Mathew Leutwyler, writer Peter Rudy, and stars Erik Palladino and Poppy Montgomery

Run Lola Run: director Tom Tykwer and star Franka Potente

Saturday, June 5

*Dead Dogs: director Clay Eide and stars Joe Reynolds and Margot Demeter

*To Walk With Lions: director Carl Schultz and star Richard Harris

*The Mao Game: director/star Joshua Miller and star Piper Laurie

*The Basket: director Rich Cowan

*After the Rain: director Ross Kettle

**At Sachem Farm: director John Huddles and stars Minnie Driver and Amila Heinle

*Hand of Fate: director Scott Morgan

Deadly Maria: director Tom Tykwer and at Fly Filmmaking with be the three directors presenting their work: Adrienne Shelly, Julia Sweeney, and Paul Todisco

Sunday, June 6

*Sweet Thing: director Mark David

*This Space Between Us: director Mathew Leutwyler, writer Peter Rudy, and stars Erik Palladino and Poppy Montgomery

*After the Rain: director Ross Kettle

**At Sachem Farm: director John Huddles and stars Minnie Driver and Amila Heinle

Run Lola Run: director Tom Tykwer and star Franka Potente

The Sneak Preview Saturday night is a secret no longer. The scheduled film is an Australian comedy starring Linus Roache called Siam Sunset, straight out of Cannes. The film plays at the Egyptian Theater on Saturday, June 5, at 9:15. The final weekend also welcomes the Filmmakers Forum, a series of seminars and presentations which come at film from the other direction: how do you get it made?

The following is a brief list of events and schedule guests through the weekend. All take place at the Broadway Performance Hall, unless otherwise noted.

Thursday, June 3:

Truth with an Attitude (10-11:30am)

Documentary filmmaking as seen by panelists Katya Bankowsky (Shadow Boxers), Freida Lee Mock (Return with Honor), Scott Morgan (Hand of Fate), Emiko Omori (Rabbit in the Moon), and Parris Patton (Creature), moderated by Diane Hendrix of Clear Blue Sky Productions.

First Rehearsal (12-1:30pm)

Director Michael Hoffman (A Midsummer Night's Dream, Restoration) uses a workshop setting to explore working with actors.

Screenwriters Salon Presents... (4:30-6pm)

Winners of the Second Annual Washington State Film Office Screenplay Competition George Wing, Steven Christy, and Vaughn Entwistle are presented with their awards.

Friday, June 4

Get Ready to Rumble (10-11:30am)

Panelists Gary Gibson (KCTS), Glen Kennel (Cinesite), Bob Lancaster (Alpha Cine Laboratory), Don Miskowich (Sony Pictures Entertainment High Definition Center), and Mark David (director of Sweet Thing) discuss the pros and cons of digital video and film, and the strengths and weaknesses of the many options offered by each format.

From the Basement Up (12-2pm)

Making your film on digital video, with advice, observations and experiences from panelists Andrew Baum (Apple Computer), John Jeffcoat (director, Bingo! The Documentary), Hakim Kamel (Ignition Digital), Dorothea Knapp (Adobe Systems), and Robert Miller (filmmaker), moderated by Jonathan Wells of Res Magazine.

Flashing 101: The Future of Exhibition & Distribution (2:30-4pm)

Panelists Susan Glatzer (October Films), Jeff Graves (Cinerama Theatre), Mark Hall (RealNetworks), Tim Harader (Microsoft), Bob Mayson (Eastman Kodak), Chris Reese (, and Mika Salmi (Atom Films), led by moderator Jonathan Wells (Res Magazine), discuss the possibilities and realities of new forms of distribution: movies over the Internet, streaming technology, digital theaters and more.

Pre-Movie Soundtrack: Film Spotting (4:30-6pm)

Using the SIFF World Premiere films After the Rain and Dead Dogs as practical examples, a panel of directors, composers, editors, and sound designers discuss the marriage of sound and image. Panelists Clay Eddie (Dead Dogs), Ross Kettle (After the Rain), Alan Koshiyama (Dead Dogs), Martin Lopez (Dead Dogs) , Hummie Mann (After the Rain), Jim Ruxin (After the Rain) are moderated by Nancy Knutsen of ASCAP.

Saturday, June 5

State of the Art: Critical Mass & Independent Film (10-11:30am)

Producers, directors and journalists discuss the relationship between the press and American Independent Cinema. Panelists include Panelists: Michael Corrente (Say You'll Be Mind), Angela Daddabbo (Freak Talks About Sex), Jimmy Daddabbo (Freak Talks About Sex), Ken Eisner (Variety), John Horn (Premiere Magazine), and Joshua Miller (The Mao Game).

The Lion King (12-2pm)

Steven Farber from Movieline Magazine interviews actor Richard Harris in a celebration of his career.

Fly Filmmaking: World Premiere (4:30-6pm)

Directors Adrienne Shelly (Sudden Manhattan), Julia Sweeney (God Said "Ha!" ) and Paul Todisco (Freak Talks About Sex premiere their new original productions in SIFFs unique program, where three directors create a film from scratch in six days with 800 feet (22 minutes) of film stock and a cast and crew of locals. Jay Roach, director of Austin Powers & Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me moderates.

There is one more event, a rather lighthearted special event called Reel of Fortune, the new SIFF game show where emcee Warren "Wink" Etheredge (who promises to show up in crushed velvet) puts contestants (and SIFF co-founders) Dan Ireland and Darryl Macdonald through their paces in a competition of SIFF trivia. Audience members will be integrated into the show, and fabulous prizes have been promised. The event occurs Thursday, June 3 at the Broadway Performance Hall.

The final weekend of SIFF plays host to the final emerging master to be so honored, Tom Twyker, who will be on hand to introduce his new film Run Lola Run as well as his 1993 debut Deadly Maria. The international hit Run Lola Run has already sent Hollywood producer knocking at Twykers door in hopes of luring the director stateside, but so far hes committed to continue making his films in at home in Germany. Heres a rare chance to hear the director talk about his work and screen his otherwise unavailable first film.

If you were thinking about trying to see the closing night gala Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, you should start making alternate plans now. Its sold out. Completely. Not one to be had. Dont even bother lining up. Besides, whats the point? With Mike Meyers and Heather Graham practically guaranteed not to show, all you have is director Jay Roach, and hes not nearly as funny as Meyers or as cute as Graham.

However, tickets for Battleship Potemkin, accompanied by the Bellevue Philharmonic performing a score of Shostakovich (created from symphonic excerpts by Soviet musicologists in 1975), are still available for shows on both Saturday and Sunday nights. The program at the Paramount Theater unofficially launches into its most ambitious silent film series to date. If youve never seen a silent film with a live orchestra, youre in for a treat

The MIA report: The Friday, May 28 midnighter Portland Street Blues was a surprising no-show. The surprise was that festival employees thought they had it all along, but instead another Hong Kong action film The Girl Called Cat, was sent in its place. When the labels are in smeary Cantonese its so hard to verify the reels. On Monday, May 30, SIFF courier Golden Globe waited two hours at the airport as a cargo plane unloaded its entire hold. A rush shipped print of Tokyo Eyes was absolutely, positively promised to be there overnight and was nowhere to be found. The Memorial Day showing at Pacific Place was already late, so a last-minute replacement, the upcoming Midnight Movie Unlucky Monkey, was immediately delivered to the theater and slapped into the projector by a nervous projectionist hoping the unchecked reels were in order and all there. No problemthe screening went off without further incident and the audience members saved themselves a midnight trip. The upcoming Friday, June 4 screening of Tokyo Eyesis still scheduled as of this writing.

The first show of the controversial I Stand Alone earned its reputation for a goodly portion of the audience. Already notorious for its relentlessly bitter portrait of a hateful, bile-filled former butcher whose invective-strewn stream-of-consciousness rants dominate the soundtrack, punctuated by abrupt orchestra stings and sharp gunshot-sounding slaps, it contains two particularly harsh sequences guaranteed to weed out the faint of heart. I wont describe them, but they bookend the film. The first showing at the Egyptian had the audience streaming out for both scenes, and the second even carries a warning: You have 30 seconds to leave the theater. No one seemed to take the warning at its word, but moments later audience members hit their wall of tolerance and trickled out. I have to say that for all the hype, the film didnt live up to my expectations, certainly not after Michael Hanekes far more subversive Funny Games from SIFF 1998. The audience at the second screening seemed to feel the same wayor perhaps word from the Saturday, May 29 showing got around. As it was, I didnt see anyone leave the second screening (which was perhaps not-so-surprisingly sparsely populated), and found that for all its toxic in-your-face rudeness and viciousness and foul language, director Gaspar Noe plays it all for shock effect. Without a doubt, there are moments where even the most stoic may find themselves queasy, but as a cinematic slap in the face it doesnt carry much of a sting after the initial blows.

Kudos to Cinema Seattle membership coordinator Warren Etheridge for finding new and inventive ways to remind audience members to please turn off cell phones, beepers, and alarms while simultaneously recruiting new members. What started out as a contest to come up with best reason to have a cell phone (the winner received a free Cinema Seattle Membership) transformed over the course of the festival when one audience member spoke up that perhaps those who didnt bring cell phones should be getting the prizes. Thus one kid found himself the lucky recipient of a $100 level membership for his favorite reason for not owning a cell phone: Because my parents will always know where I am.

Favorite line of the festival so far: Remember, God punishes the skeptics. He really fucks them over. Mother Dorita, played by the matriarch of Mexican cinema Katy Jurado, in Divine

SIFF Notes week 6

by Sean Axmaker. Posted Tuesday, 6/01/99.

There are sell-out shows, and then there is An Evening With John Sayles, the first show in SIFF history that sold out before a single day-of-show ticket was sold. Heres how it works: Because of the passholders (not simply full series, Platinum and press passes, but also those given out to guests and sponsors), SIFF cant predict how many seats can actually be sold at a given show, so a number of tickets are set aside until the passholders and ticketholders are in and counted. The open seats are then sold to the hopefuls lined up for what may be as much as hundred or as little as a couple of dozen. John Sayles attracted a record number of passholders: over 350 made it through the doors, along with advance ticketholders, before auditorium reached capacity. Late ticketholders and passholders alike were turned away (remember the small print on the back of those passes about 20 minutes before showtime?) because there simply were no seats to be had and the Fire Marshall still frowns upon crowding the aisles. Hundred of hopefuls, lined up down and around the block, were turned away.

The film was the American premiere of Limbo, but the event was an onstage interview with Sayles (both fresh from Cannes) before the film, and a Q&A after. A born raconteur, Sayles had the audience in stitches with such observations as: "I once told Jonathan Demme after Silence of the Lambs came out that he had the perfect TV series: a serial killer with a guest victim every week." Here are a few highlights from the conversation:

John Sayles on his debut film, Return of the Secaucas 7: "It was one of the few movies that was made from the budget first. We were thinking What can we do well for $40,000?"

On movies: "It was probably not until I was in college that I realized people made movies, that they didnt just kind of exist."

On defining his own films: "Most of our movies are between genres. Matewan is not quite a western and Lone Star is not quite a detective film. Limbo is limbo. Actually my generic work has been as a screenwriter, and there Ive done pretty much everything but slasher movies and serial killer movies."

On writing for hire: "Most directors dont even meet each other, let alone work with each other. Ive gotten to work with Ron Howard, Jonathan Demme, Steven Spielberg, Bille August, Sidney Pollack, James Cameronreally terrific filmmakersand see how they do it. You see how people think about story and its a great insight that you wouldnt get if you were just a director. Ive had great moments where therell be some story point coming up a story conference at a studio thats really stupid and the director is shushing me as Im about to object and start a fight, and as I walked out of the meeting with him, hed turn to me and say, "If you promise to write it, I promise not to shoot it."

Even if Sayles hadnt been so engaging, the event would stick out as one of the most memorable for its unique finish. At 8:10, fully ten minutes over the allotted time for the interview, Sayles wife and producer Maggie Renzi walked up the stage and, right in the middle of a story, stated rather bluntly: "You have to stop talking now." You have to run a tight ship to get a dozen independent films made.

The Sayles event turned away the most hopefuls but was by no means the only sellout over the busy Memorial Day weekend. At the Egyptian, An Ideal Husband (direct from closing night at Cannes) and Emir Kusturicas roundhouse comic revelry Black Cat White Cat sold out, while near-capacity houses filled the theater for Get Real, Sitcom, and Amerikan Passport. The Pacific Place sold out shows of Train of Life and the locally produced and shot Book of Stars, while the Korean animated family film Grandma and Her Ghosts and Cabaret Balkan (aka the film formerly known as Powder Keg) played to full, and fully appreciative, houses. At the Broadway, Desert Blue sold out and the last-minute addition of Bingo (which had already sold out its upcoming Saturday, June 5 show), from Seattle filmmaker John Jeffcoat, and Beautiful New World played to full houses. The Harvard Exit sold every last seat for American Independents Coming Soon and Twin Falls Idaho as well as Only Clouds Move the Stars from Norway and both showings of the delightful Mexican comedy Santitos, which festival volunteers venture may be the most popular film to play the Harvard to date. It turns out that a member of unofficial SIFF royalty attended the initial screening of Santitos as well: The films executive producer, John Sayles, took his seat in the crowd and managed to maintain his anonymity even through the Q&A.

Finally, there was the Drive-in Party at the Valley Drive-in in Auburn. Four hundred packed cars (including many carrying SIFF staffers and volunteers) parked all night as four films (three of them with their directors in tow) unspooled from dusk until well into the wee hours. By about 2 am some of the sleep-deprived left after the first two features, but many braved the entire night. But those poor directors. With nary a stage to make their presentations, its not like theyre going to go around knocking on car windows asking, "So, any questions? I had a hard time making the hair gel look realistic in that light" Maybe next year they could incorporate them into a snack bar special: "Chat with the filmmaker with every large popcorn and soft drink!"

You dont have to speak Spanish to enjoy SIFF, but lately its become increasingly helpful. The short Senores De Gardenia, which played in the midnight Erotic City collection Naughty Bits, came (like Insomnio) sans subtitles. Commented one viewer: "I dont know if they would have helped; it was pretty strange to begin with."

Last minute MIAs left the midnight show of Portland Street Blues replaced with another Hong Kong action film The Girl Called Cat, and the Memorial Day screening of Tokyo Eyes replaced with the upcoming midnight movie Unlucky Monkey. The upcoming Friday, June 4, screening of Tokyo Eyes is still scheduled as of this writing.

For a guide to events for the final weekend, see the next installment of SIFF notes.

Read previous SIFF Notes:

Installments 4-5 >>

Installments 1-3 >>

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