Meek, Joe Dallesandro of the Warhol crew, a history of jazz and more: event for
the celebrated annual festival happened April 30 at the Alki Room, Seattle
Center, Seattle, Washington.
By Gillian G. Gaar
Nick Moran’s documentary about maverick British producer Joe Meek, Little Joe, a look at the life and times
of Warhol screen legend Joe Dallesandro, and Icons Among Us, a history of jazz as
told through the interviews of 75 jazz artists, are just some of the films that
will have their premieres at the 35th Seattle International Film
Festival, which runs May 21-June 14 in Seattle (North American premieres for Telstar and Little Joe, World Premiere for Icons).
Sub Pop act No Age will also debut an original score for a screening of the
French film The Bear, which will play
June 12 at Seattle
club the Triple Door.
The preliminary lineup was
announced at SIFF’s press launch, held at what will be their future home on the
Seattle Center grounds. After last year’s “dry”
press launch, this year media types (chiefly local media – Seattle Times, Seattle
Metropolitan, Seattle Gay News,
etc.), were given a nice spread, courtesy of Suess Chocolates, featuring a wide
array of pastries and all the mimosas you could quaff (Blurt‘s favorite morning beverage). Blurt spoke with both Artistic Director Carl Spence and Programming
Manager Beth Barrett who noted that this year’s SIFF is one of their biggest
(268 features and 124 shorts), thus continuing to hold down SIFF’s rep as the
largest film fest in North America (it’s also the second highest attended fest
in North America, with Toronto’s fest coming in first). Spence said there was
an effort to schedule more comedies this year to help alleviate the stresses of
our troubled times, and both pointed out the strength of this year’s offerings
by Northwest filmmakers, including not only Icons,
but also Trimpin: The Sound of Invention a doc about the artist/inventor/engineer/composer whose massive guitar
sculpture hangs in Seattle’s Experience Music Project rock museum, It Takes A Cult, about “The Love Family”
commune, World’s Greatest Dad, directed
by comedian Bob Goldthwait and starring Robin Williams, and ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction.
Nine films are part of
SIFF’s “Face The Music” series, including not only Icons, Trimpin, Telstar, and The Bear presentation, but also documentaries on Bruce Springsteen,
Youssou Ndour, the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival, Favela on Blast, about Rio’s Balle
Funk music scene, and Sounds Like Teen
Spirit: A Popumentary, which centers on the Junior Eurovision Song Contest.
Another music-related film not part of Face The Music series is Every Little Step, a documentary about
the revival of the musical A Chorus Line.
SIFF has long described
itself as a populist film fest, with films for virtually every taste. While
some films are currently slated for theatrical release (such as Facing Ali, an homage to the boxing
legend), there are others that have yet to secure widespread distribution (the
cult hit Morris: A Life With Bells On,
a faux documentary about Morris dancing). Along with the Face the Music series,
other series highlight films with gay themes (La Mission; Benjamin Bratt freaks when he learns his son is gay),
“eco-themes” (Food, Inc., an expose
of our food industry), and the infamous “Midnight Adrenaline” series, offering
late night sagas about “dead things and bleeding things” in Barrett’s words (Black Dynamite, a modern day
blaxploitation flick; the self-explanatory Yes,
I Can See Dead People).
The press launch also
included a screening of SIFF’s opening night film, the British feature In The Loop, a riotous modern day
political satire (which seemed even funnier after the consumption of so many
mimosas) from the team of the UK TV series The
Thick Of It. Opening night is one of three SIFF galas, with screenings
followed by elaborate parties featuring much food and drink. The Centerpiece
Gala, held June 5, will feature Humpday,
about two straight guys who enter an amateur porn contest for the thrill of it;
complications ensue (the story is loosely based on the real life amateur porn
contest held by Seattle alternative weekly The
Stranger). The Closing Night gala will feature OSS 117: Lost In Rio, the long-awaited sequel to OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies, a French
send-up of James Bond spy capers with agent OSS
117 tracking down Nazis in Rio in between
gallivanting with lovelies in mini skirts.
Among the guests who are
set to make SIFF appearances this year are Spike Lee, who will receive the 2009
Golden Space Needle Award for Outstanding Achievement in Directing in a special
tribute program May 23 at Seattle’s “World Famous” Egyptian Theatre that will
include an on-stage interview with Lee and a screening of his latest film, Passing Strange, based on the Broadway
musical of the same name. Francis Ford Coppola will arrive June 10 with his
latest film, Tetro, and its star,
Vincent Gallo, in tow.
SIFF’s complete schedule
will be available Thursday, May 7, with ticket sales for the general public
beginning May 8. Info: www.siff.net .