Good news—it’s April now, so there’s pretty much a guarantee that it won’t snow again (and after February’s Snowpocalypse, we’re all ready for that). Temperatures are heating up, some early seasonal flowers are blooming, and Seattle residents are finally starting to emerge from hibernation. But leaving the den is difficult, so we’ve lined up a selection of art that’s sure to help you wake up. For theater enthusiasts, we’ve got A Doll's House Part 2 at Seattle Repertory Theatre, The Addams Family Musical at Edmonds Driftwood Players, and Dry Land at Seattle Public Theater, which cover a range of topics from family drama to the struggles of unwanted teen pregnancy. If you want to catch a movie, try the Stroum Jewish Film Festival, a film series that explores Jewish and Israeli identity held at a variety of venues in and around Seattle. There’s also Strange Fruit at the WOKENESS Festival by Spectrum Dance Theater, a dance festival that aims to push against assumptions surrounding race, gender, and culture. With all this variety, there’s sure to be something to catch your eye, so wake up, get woke, and go see some art!
FP2: Beats of Rage at Grand Illusion Cinema reminded me why I love movies. So much character has been put into every shot—at one point I thought I could see the reflection of the filmmakers in the cinema screen. The screen, by the way, was tiny, but it was balanced out by the small size of the room. In fact, the whole theater had a sense of closeness, partially because the will call and concessions had to be managed by the same person, but also because the room was packed. The crowd was lively—they laughed at all the jokes, pointed out all the green screen flubs, and made me feel as though I’d stepped into a tight knit group of friends. Everyone seemed to know someone there; even the person introducing the movie called out a few regulars and had conversations with them.
The story revolves around a tournament for a video game called Beat-Beat Revelation, typically abbreviated to just Beat-Beat, which is absolutely not just Dance-Dance Revolution. That would be silly. This game is the primary way in which conflicts are resolved in this post-apocalyptic society, and the tournament serves as a way to determine who will rule over the FP (Frazier Park), which is filled with this world’s hottest commodity: booze. When the Beat-Beat player known as AK-47 threatens the freedom of all those who just want to have a good time, the legendary Beat-Beat ninja JTRO is forced to come out of hiding in order to secure alcohol for his people.
One Girl is a raw portrayal of the varied lives of four individuals living along the same meridian in South Sudan, Romania, Palestine, and Finland. Shown as part of the Children’s Film Festival Seattle at Northwest Film Forum, the crowded, cozy theater hosting the documentary already gave me a taste of the lively, intimate show I was about to see. One Girl begins with a short introduction, voiced by the girls themselves, as we see them getting ready for school. The juxtaposition of snowy hills in Finland and sun glinting off ancient rooftops in Palestine was a perfect pretext for the rest of the film. As we were personally introduced to each girl, their honesty sparked a quick connection between the viewer and the characters. It was this continuous honesty throughout the film, shared by all four girls, that made One Girl special. The girl living in Palestine brought up her restriction from Jerusalem, a city she could admire from her home but never enter. A serious topic brought up as an everyday truth affected the audience with its informal delivery. Even when this honesty was portrayed as bored sighs during a long lesson, or an awkward expression after a hit to the face with an out-of-control ball during P.E., it was all beautiful. It was their openness, their willingness to welcome us into their lives for just a day, that endeared the audience to the girls.
“I think all women should feel free. Our bodies are vessels: it’s how we move through the world.”
“I think all women should feel free. Our bodies are vessels: it’s how we move through the world.”
"White Rabbit" centers around Sophia, a Korean American queer woman who immigrated to the US when she was seven and lives in Koreatown, Los Angeles. She is a performance artist who often speaks at significant places where Koreans and Korean Americans gather. As someone who lived in Koreantown, I recognized many of the locations where scenes of the movie were filmed such as the Koreatown Plaza, making use of authentic locations.
As a Korean American I was able to understand many of the cultural insights and I felt this special connection to the movie. I really enjoyed it. There were also parts of the movie that were in Korean. For every movie, there’s different levels of understanding and this is one of the reasons why I got to a deeper connection than other films I’ve seen.
Our friends at Three Dollar Bill Cinema know that there's nothing better than settling down with a bag of popcorn and a movie--which is why they're not only offering FREE outdoor movies this year, but a ~special deal~ on popcorn for TeenTix Members!
That's right, TeenTix Members can get FREE popcorn when they show their TeenTix Pass at the concession stand!
Our ~super generous~ friends at Seattle International Film Festival are offering TeenTix Members TWO HUNDRED (200) complimentary tickets for their screening of the film Eighth Grade next Thursday, July 19 @ 7:00 PM!
The film weeds through the minefield that is modern adolescence through the view of Kayla, a thoughtful 13-year-old girl on the precipice of completing junior high. A social media life coach of sorts, Kayla produces YouTube videos to her imaginary subscribers about self-love and confidence, yet can't quite put these into practice in her own life. Eighth Grade was written and directed by YouTube musical comedy heartthrob Bo Burnham, who you also might recognize from his two Netflix specials! Peep the trailer right here:
La Vie Magnifique de Charlie premiered in Seattle at the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival on April 20. A short film by Sewra G. Kidane, titled Proclamation Punctuation, showed before the feature film.
Official Gifs for Gee Spot Cine fashion film Proclamation Punctuation ... an homage to the exclamation point!! www.ProclamationPunctuation.com
In the first seconds of the film, a dark screen appears and fuzzy neon green text slowly types the message: It is the distant future. Mankind has conquered many galaxies, but the universe is vast. The mega-corporation Apocalypse Inc. has dispatched exploration vessels to discover new resources and possibly new life. The following is a journey of Syrinx-87.” This opening statement is frozen on the screen for a full 75 seconds before launching into the one hour and 13-minute long feature film, “Constant Space”.
“Constant Space” is a claymation space adventure filmed with a vintage Super 8 camera. The filmmaker Emmett Fifield, Snohomish native, wrote the script at the age of 16 and began filming at 18.
As the film opens, the voice of Samuel L. Jackson is rich and deep—almost booming. His capacity for intensity made him an arguably perfect choice to narrate this documentary. Typewriter clicks accompanied words on the screen, words from a letter written by James Baldwin to his literary agent. In the correspondence, he described the book he was writing, which would be titled “Remember This House”. After his death in 1987, Baldwin’s book remained unfinished. Director of “I Am Not Your Negro”, Raoul Peck, reimagined Baldwin’s work, integrating the manuscript with photographs and videos of not only Baldwin, but his friends Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, and others.
The film does not follow a chronological structure, nor does it develop a “linear” thesis. Instead, it is organized into many separate chapters, with titles such as “Heroes” or “Witness”. Baldwin’s manuscript opens each chapter, and is quickly woven in and out of cinematic breaks. The film acknowledged that Baldwin’s words are irresistibly applicable to the modern racial climate, seizing the opportunity to diverge from Civil Rights Era footage. The faces of Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, and others flashed on the screen toward the end of the movie.
Looking to step up your media skills this Spring? You've come to the very specific, totally right place. Reel Grrls is offering TWO short classes in April that YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT.
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.
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.
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!
Running is the focus of Sarah’s life, as much a part of it as breathing or sleeping. She cannot imagine life without it and wants to continue running at college in Montreal. But standing in her way is a lack of money and opposition from her mother. As Sarah fights to keep running, Sarah Prefers to Run portrays the struggle of doing what you love, no matter the cost.
When asked why she does track and field, Sarah simply states that she loves to run. It’s that simple. Finding her way to college, though? Not so much. Since her parents don’t have the money to pay for college, Sarah has to come up with another plan. The solution presents itself in her coworker, Antoine, who is also heading to Montreal. In order to get money from the government to help pay for school, the two decide to get married despite the fact that they barely know each other.
It’s clear throughout The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz that director Brian Knappenberger is partial to his documentary’s subject. But who can blame him? The blossoming programming prodigy turned enemy of the system is lovable from the moment he steps on screen.
Though Swartz has all the makings of a hero, he carries it with dorky accessibility. Friends and family describe him encouraging his brother to dress as a computer for Halloween, predating Wikipedia in his bedroom, and collaborating to develop Creative Commons at 14 years old.
The photo on Ai Weiwei’s Wikipedia page is reverent. Luminous against a stony backdrop, he looks stoic, resilient. It’s an image fitting of a lone artist taking on the Chinese government, the sort that would win the praise of Ai’s media following and fans.
It would also make a great cover for a film. But that’s not the story Andreas Johnsen tells in his new documentary, Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case. In the film, Johnsen takes no pains to glorify Ai Weiwei. His goals were to spend as many hours with Ai as possible and to depict the artist’s vision of China. Johnsen never sits the family down for a heart-wrenching interview. He doesn’t propel Ai’s actions with music or effects.
Life Feels Good, directed by Maciej Pieprzyca, is a feature-length Polish film chronicling the adventures of a man named Mateusz, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at a young age despite his mother’s best efforts to convince her family and the doctors that he is more than a vegetable. Narration makes clear from the beginning the truth of his mental capabilities as he struggles to tell the outside world of his understanding in order to gain access to the world of being known and knowing the world that he sees his siblings enjoy.
Rather than simplify or romanticize, the film portrays the complexity of Mateusz’s ordeal and the experience of his family around him. While often emotional, Pieprzyca directed a sometimes uncomfortable, often charming, and overwhelmingly witty and whimsical film. The combination of what feels like a futile struggle to be understood and an understanding of life gleamed from a sheltered and somewhat unconventional exposure to it leaves one unexpectedly fascinated.
Wetlands Screenings: May 30 and June 6 Not for the queasy or the prude, Wetlands is a bizarrely tuned exploration of the teenage psyche in the aftermath of trauma. Seventeen-year-old Helen’s hygienic and sexual habits frame her story. She’s an average teenager, except that she does a lot of things with her body that would make anyone else sick. Somehow Wetlands makes these happenings (often involving bodily fluids) intriguing, laughable, and maybe even understandable. It’s a compelling watch, if you can stomach it. - Kali S.
Ballet 422 Screenings: June 2 and 3 There’s no doubt that ballet is absolutely fascinating. The limber bodies, flowing costumes, and synchronized music of even the most standard ballet performance can leave viewers in awe. But what does it take to create that effect? Ballet 422 offers some insight. The documentary follows choreographer Justin Peck as he creates the New York City Ballet’s 422nd original piece. Not too surprisingly, the creative process rivals the result. - Kali S.