Hometown Heroes

Local directors get their props—and compete for cash.

The Northwest Film Forum just can't get over itself. As reported two weeks ago, the Cap Hill cinematheque celebrated its 10th anniversary and year-old digs with its Super Hits festival; now there's the eighth Local Sightings fest that honors area filmmakers. Not all of them work under the NWFF banner or produce their work within its facilities, but the two-screen venue is ideal for surveying an array of interesting new films (some of them actually shot on DV). Around eight features and dozens of shorts are grouped into 18 programs (most titles screen twice), with the 7 and 7:30 p.m. shows being shown gratis courtesy of series sponsor Altoids. Additionally, prominent out-of-town jurors from Sundance, Austin, and New York will bestow awards totaling $7,500 (cash and kind) to worthy directors.

What's worth seeing? There's no way to cover all the contents here (see the NWFF Web site, for full schedule and details), but we can preview a few highlights. Opening the fest, The Greenan Tapes (7 p.m. Fri., Oct. 7) purports to be made up of TV surveillance footage from a disgraced psychologist's office; I'd love to tell you more, but the DVD that was sent to me wouldn't play. Is it real or Blair Witch? You be the judge.

The short Pile Driver starts out as a meet-cute slacker romance, then takes an abrupt turn (7:30 p.m. Sat., Oct. 8; and 9 p.m. Mon., Oct. 10). Screened twice (7 p.m. Sun., Oct. 9; and 9 p.m. Tues., Oct. 11) are a pair of engrossing, accomplished shorts: An Appetite for Bernard Brady is a creepy and very contemporary take on cybersex and dating (plus a notorious German criminal case from 2001). A fragment of his feature-in-progress, Linas Phillips' Walking to Werner sounds awful, but turns out to be anything but. Generally filming himself with a handheld camera, Phillips emulates his idol, Werner Herzog, by walking from Seattle to L.A. to meet the German director. The effect is like a more artful version of that public-access Richard Lee Kurt Cobain Was Murdered show—the camera is in Phillips' face all the time, and you'll either learn to love the face or flee the theater. Yet Herzog begins calling and e-mailing him with encouragement ("What do you want in life? What is your destiny?"), and Phillips begins to meet some fascinating roadside characters on his trek. He also suffers his share of on-camera meltdowns about traffic ("I am such a fucking idiot!"). But, hey, nobody told the guy to walk alongside the freeway. You'll definitely want to see the finished feature when it debuts at the NWFF.


Local Sightings: Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 206-267-5380, www.nwfilmforum.org. $5-$8. Runs Fri., Oct. 7–Wed., Oct. 12.

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