SIFF’s FutureWave Expands the Role of Teens in the Film Community

by Naomi

We’ve all seen movies. We all have our opinions. But who would think that a teenager’s opinion of movies could impact anything? Seattle International Film Festival’s FutureWave program gives teens just that opportunity—for their opinions to matter and be taken seriously in the world of film.

SIFF’s FutureWave program allows youth to participate in the reviewing process of movies playing at the festival. For the 2015 festival, seven FutureWave Youth Jury members, 13-18 years old, viewed eight predetermined films and then deliberated to decide which would be awarded as Best FutureWave Feature, taking all aspects of the contending films, from plot to cinematography to acting, into their deliberations. The teen jurors were even invited to attend the Golden Space Needle Awards brunch at the top of the Space Needle to present the award.

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Everyday Living in Extraordinary Circumstances

​Review of Tangerines at SIFF by Sophia G.

It is 1992. In Georgia, a civil war is tearing the country apart. Estonian settlers are fleeing back to Estonia to escape. In the midst of this, Ivo and his neighbor Margus, both senior Estonian men, tend to their tangerine crop. They want to stay until the last of their tangerines is harvested, despite the war that’s coming increasingly near. When two injured soldiers turn up near their houses, Ivo and Margus take them in and care for them.

Such is the premise of writer and director Zaza Urushadze’s movie Tangerines, a film that is a moving tribute to the individual people whose lives are disrupted in wartime. Though it’s set in Georgia, it could easily be set anywhere, in any war. The theme of overcoming divisions and recognizing others’ humanity is so universal it has been done a thousand times; yet this movie’s characters are such fully fleshed out people the story feels unique.

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Punk Rock Moms

​Review of Angry Housewives at ArtsWest by Vivian Lappenbusch

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Imagine your dear, sweet mother. She’s living a very plain life, making sure the laundry is done before starting dinner, making ends meet, and generally keeping everyone alive and happy. Now imagine that mother, who couldn’t hurt a fly, is now in a punk rock band. Hard to not laugh at, right? ArtsWest is bringing that image to life. Directed by Shawn Belyea, Angry Housewives is a delightful musical about four wives and girlfriends who are sick of living in the shadows of their husbands, sons, and exes. They decide to drop their responsibilities for one week to make some money in a no-holds-barred, punk rock battle of the bands. For Carol (Ann Cornelius), the extra cash means she can keep her car after her spouse’s death. For Jetta (Chelsea LeValley), it means not having to rely on her man-child husband. And for Bev (Heather Hawkins) and Wendi (Janet McWilliams), hey, who couldn't use a little extra cash in tough economic times?

Steeped in the culture of Seattle in the ’80s, Angry Housewives is thoroughly fun. While it's fairly obviously targeted to the real-life housewives in the audience, the characters are endearing and lovable. The music is consistently funny, and all of the songs are even catchier than you could imagine. Whether you relate to Bev’s “Generic Woman” or Tim’s (Trent Moury) “Hell School,” there will be a song in this musical to sum up your life. The book, written by A.M. Collins in Seattle in 1983, really sums up the way family dynamics work when families aren’t as perfectly nuclear as they seem. None of the characters are without flaws, but none of the characters lack redeeming qualities. This balance is what makes Angry Housewives really unique; while many performances love to rely on the infallible hero defeating the sinister villain trope, the normal struggles of these four women are compelling and funny without feeling forced. Angry Housewives runs through May 24, but when you show up, make sure you do so early—the opening shows sold out fast, and so will the rest of them!

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The Future of Film is Here

​National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY) Hits Seattle This Weekend, a preview by Kali Swenson

It's finally that time of year again—the time to showcase young film directors from around the world. NFFTY is a stand out among film festivals for precisely the reason stated in its title; it's "for talented youth." Don't be thinking amateur, though. The directors, all under age 24, of NFFTY's selections have the creativity, skills, and vision to put them on par with the best. These are high quality, well-produced, and impressively directed films with beautiful cinematography and compelling acting.

Spanning the weekend of April 23 through 26, NFFTY features all types of film, from comedy and drama to horror, animation, and documentary. All featured films are shorts gathered into themed groups—like Northwest Life, Edge of Your Seat, and Musical Masterpiece—for screenings. So attending one showing at NFFTY actually means seeing several films!

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He Really Does Look Like a Lizard

​Review of Lizard Boy at Seattle Repertory Theatre by Vida Behar

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Before Lizard Boy even begins the actors are milling around on stage, tuning their instruments, one of them half-dancing to the ambient acoustic indie rock playing over the speakers. Admittedly, it’s confusing at first, but after realizing this is an artistic choice by the director, it sets the tone as quite intimate for the rest production.

This hilarious comic book musical—written, composed, and starring Justin Huertas as Trevor—tells the story of a boy who hasn't left his apartment in a year in the wake of a bad breakup. But in the process of looking for his ex-boyfriend on Grindr (an app like Tinder for gay male hookups), he has an adorably awkward encounter with Cary, played by William A. Williams.

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Living Up to Its Status

​Review of Swan Lake at Pacific Northwest Ballet by Mobird

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A classic work of art, Swan Lake is heartrending and technically complex, and the Pacific Northwest Ballet is well up to the challenge of this amazing performance. With music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who also composed The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, as well as complementary choreography by Kent Stowell, this is a masterful, well-choreographed, and well-rehearsed performance.

Carla Körbes is stunning in the dual role of Odette, the swan’s princess, and Odile, the daughter of the villainous Baron von Rothbart. This is also one of her last performances with PNB, as she is retiring at the end of the season. Körbes' lines and control of her body are sensual and breathtaking. She makes holding an on-pointe arabesque for more than 15 seconds look like the easiest thing in the world. She makes even the hardest moves look easy.

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This Summer: Intern for TeenTix!

​Snag a spot with TeenTix this summer, and you'll be helping us keep art accessible for young people!

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Do you care about keeping art accessible for young people? How are you with menial duties? Do you like working alongside a group of awesome, fun people who care about art? Come and work with us! We are currently hiring for a Summer 2015 Intern.

Start Date: Flexible, as early as May 2015 End Date: Flexible, late August or early September 2015 Supervisor: Ashraf Hasham, TeenTix Deputy Director Deadline: Rolling

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Millenial Movement

​Review of Splurge Land at On the Boards by Kali Swenson

Splurge Land sets an unfortunately familiar scene: a contemporary house party. It could be a no-parents-home situation, a typical Friday night in college, or just some young adults trying to have a good time. There’s smoking, drinking, body-flaunting, Instagramming, a bag of chips, loud electronic music, and—of course—dancing.

Kate Wallich/The YC dance through the late-night narrative of the post-net generation, one whose good times appear all the better because there are hashtagged photos to prove it. Yet, there’s an ominous feeling to Splurge Land that never quite goes away. The supposed fun never surpasses the bleak means of trying for it.

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Shimmying and Shaking

​Review of Cabaret at UW Undergraduate Theater Society by Mobird

Cabaret

In my last review of UW’s Undergraduate Theater Society, I covered The Picture of Dorian Gray, stating that this is a wonderful group, on par with the Paramount and many Broadway-level companies. Cabaret doesn’t fail to live up to the standard they set in my last review; it shimmied and shook its way above it. Cabaret is delightfully sexy, adult, playful, dramatic, and sobering. The music is delivered gorgeously; Taige Kussman’s sultry, rich mezzo/alto was the perfect fit for main character Sally Bowle’s English accent and the setting of the Kit Kat Club. This show takes you on a journey far from where you sat down, leaving all your troubles behind you. The acting is simply delightful. From the accents to the sultry movements of the actors, I was entranced. Be warned, however, this show gets mature, covering domestic abuse, the realm of Nazis, and sex workers. Other than that, this show is yet another great production from a fantastic company. Bravo, and well done.

Cabaret UW Undergraduate Theater Society February 26 - March 8

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Announcing Culture Writing with Ijeoma Oluo!

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We are thrilled to announce our new writing class, Culture Writing, with writer Ijeoma Oluo!

Ijeoma's work has been featured in The Guardian, City Arts Magazine, the Stranger, Huffington Post, Jezebel, NY Magazine, Medium, Ravishly, SheKnows, XOJane, Time Magazine, The Awl, and The Monarch Review. Most recently, she blew up the internet by compassionately engaging a racist Twitter troll on Martin Luther King Day. (You can follow Ijeoma @ijeomaoluo and you should.) Culture Writing will be a two-month class responding to the explosive growth of serious writing about popular culture. Topics explored will include personal narrative in pop culture writing, race, class, and gender, media literacy, and internet culture. Students will learn to craft better writing, engage more critically with the culture they consume, and give and receive constructive feedback. Culture Writing will be held in July and August at the Seattle Center. It is open to all incoming 11th & 12th graders and college freshmen. If you would like to be notified when applications for Culture Writing become available, click here.

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Avoid the Rain with a Trip to Spain

​Review of Don Quixote at Pacific Northwest Ballet by Charlotte P.

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Is the cold winter weather getting you down? Well, Pacific Northwest Ballet has provided the perfect solution. Take a trip to warm, sunny Barcelona with PNB’s Don Quixote. The production, choreographed by world-famous choreographer Alexei Ratmansky, captures the passion of Spain with an undertone of Russian classicism.

Based on Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s literary masterpiece Don Quixote, the ballet is an energetic spectacle that draws out laughter from the very beginning. Although entitled Don Quixote, the Don (and his portly sidekick Sancho Panza) plays a minimal part in the action aside from his journey to find his true love, Dulcinea. The majority of the plot follows the escapades of Kitri, a feisty Spanish girl, and Basilio, her lover, around Barcelona in escape from Kitri’s father, who wants her to marry the ridiculous, but wealthy, Gamache.

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Rethinking the Honesty of Relationships

​Review of 4000 Miles at ArtsWest by Tracy Montes

4000 Miles

Keeping up with our friends and family members nowadays tends to happen via social media. It is likely you have seen others with their phone devices glued to their hands, staring and swiping endlessly on a screen as they “connect” with others and show sympathy as they “like” pictures, life events, and the statuses of their loved ones. Even if social media is the innovative tool society uses to bond and connect, the play 4000 Miles by Amy Herzog shares with audiences a more effective way to connect with each other.

4000 Miles, directed by Mathew Wright, introduces Leo Joseph-Connel, a 21-year-old without a cellphone, a job, or a place to stay. Leo (Adam Standley) has just finished a cross-country bicycle trip. His deep love for the outdoors inspired him to begin the journey with his best friend Micah, departing from Seattle and heading east, where he ends up by himself in New York City at the door of his grandmother, Vera (Susan Corzatte).

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Don’t Be Afraid of Being Afraid

​Review of Mwindo at Seattle Children's Theater by Susana D.

Mwindo

Mwindo, written by Cheryl L. West, is a modern adaptation of an ancient tale spun by the elusive Nyanga tribe who reside in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Set Designer Carey Wong transports the audience to Africa with twisting liana vines, rocky mountains, and intricate patterns that cover the floor. Each portion of the set directly relates to the plot.

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The Piano Lesson as an Escape from Your School Lessons

​Review of The Piano Lesson at Seattle Repertory Theatre by Lin G.

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If you need a break from sine, cosine, and tangent, or if your eyes are crossing from reading too many textbooks, Seattle Repertory Theatre offers a differnt kind of lesson: The Piano Lesson by August Wilson. It’s a fun play dealing with family and friends, tiffs and fights, legacy and stories, and spirits and ghosts.

The story, written by August Wilson, is about an African American family trying to hold on to their stories and history. The basic plot: a dispute between siblings. Berniece wants to save an heirloom upright piano for sentimental value, but her brother, Boy Willie, who is more concerned with practicality, is determined to sell the piano and buy a piece of land where their father worked as a slave.

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Challenging Conceptions of Race

​Review of Yellow Face at Undergraduate Theater Society by Sophie D.

Yellow Face

Race. What is its meaning? How does it affect us? How can it be changed? Is it even real?

This complicated topic is addressed comprehensively, hilariously, and uniquely in David Henry Hwang’s Yellow Face, produced by the Undergraduate Theater Society (UTS) at the University of Washington. In this semi-autobiographical story, Hwang (Mikko Juan), a well-known playwright and Asian-American civil rights activist, mistakenly casts a white actor in an Asian title role, making himself part of the problem of whitewashing and marginalization he’s trying to fight — or so he thinks.

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Cornish students with work/study awards: We’re hiring!

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Are you a Cornish student with a work/study award? Want to help keep art accessible for young people? Come and work with us!

Our wonderful Member Services Coordinator, Nazlah, is headed off on an academic adventure in Scotland, so we have an immediate opening. Only current Cornish College of Arts students with work/study awards may apply.

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Still Striving for a “Great Society”

​Review of The Great Society at Seattle Repertory Theatre by Indigo Trigg-Hauger

The Great Society

Watching The Great Society is like watching a current newscast. Protests swell, Republicans sweep elections, racism rises, and then the audience remembers this was “back then”— the 1960s. But it’s also now.

The play follows Lyndon B. Johnson’s full term in office and the idea he held for a “Great Society” with civil rights, health care, less poverty, and more. With a whirling group of advisors and adversaries coming and going, though, and the tumultuous world outside, we see the inner workings of why things did not go entirely as planned — notably, with the war in Vietnam and the response to civil rights marchers and activists.

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Love It Again for the Last Time

​Review of Nutcracker at Pacific Northwest Ballet by Catherine Y.

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What better way to celebrate the holiday season than to see Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of Sendak and Stowell’s Nutcracker? It is truly a one-of-a-kind show that the entire family can enjoy.

The classic is brought to life with vivid backdrops and bright ruffled dresses that transport the audience straight to Nuremburg to find festivities in full swing on Christmas Eve in the Stahlbaum home.

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Warm, Fuzzy Christmas Vibes All Around

​Review of A Christmas Story: The Musical at 5th Avenue Theatre by Alyssa O

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Are you staying inside this year to watch Christmas movie reruns and harvest your inner couch potato? You should move your potato buns to the 5th Avenue Theatre instead, where A Christmas Story: The Musical will warm your heart with bizarre leg lamp musical numbers, meta jokes, and all the ups and downs of being a kid again.

Not a single thing about this performance is normal. Sure, the storyline makes it seem so — a slightly geeky American boy named Ralphie tries to convince his family to get him a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas — but this musical is sprinkled with tons of quirky humor and bizarre holiday charm that will keep you at the edge of your seat. You can’t help but laugh at the overly exaggerated stereotypes hilariously portrayed by the talented singer/actor powerhouses at the 5th Avenue Theatre — or the dad’s strange obsession with his female anatomy-inspired lamp. All the funny quirks of this outrageous musical will have you entertained the entire night.

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A Production Unlike Any Other — Really

​Review of A(n Improvised) Christmas Carol at Unexpected Productions by Degraceful

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The cast of A(n Improvised) Christmas Carol surely knows their improv. With jokes so witty you would assume they had been crafted over the course of days spouting out of actor’s mouths before they even have a chance to censor themselves, this production was unlike any other.

And truly, it is, for every night that Unexpected Productions puts on another show, the outcome is vastly different. Each night the audience gets a “choose your own adventure.” The audience is asked to call out answers to random questions such as “name a type of profession” or “something you would hide in your house.” Some answers are obvious as to how they will be incorporated into the show, but others are more subtle and unexpected.

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