Over the past three years, I have covered the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) on this blog. This year, however, I will be covering it on my other blog, Murmurs from the Balcony. In fact, my first post on the festival, dealing with press screenings, was posted earlier tonight.
If I have time, I will be posting an update on the novel in the next few weeks. If not, I’ll post the update once SIFF ends on June 9.
With the Volunteer Appreciation Night having occurred two weeks ago, right after the soda machines stopped working (they’re working now), the 2012 edition of the Seattle International Film Festival is at a close. Last year, I saw 18 films and continued to write about the festival until the following year. This year, I saw 20 films and will end my SIFF-related posts with this one.
So then, here are the films I saw during this year’s festival, along with when they played and what rating I gave them (5 is awesome, 1 is horribly, horribly bad).
Eden (press screening); W, 5/9 10:00 am; Uptown 2; 4*
Trishna; Su, 5/20 3:30 pm; Uptown 1; 3
Goodbye; M, 5/21 6:30 pm; Pacific Place 11; 5
How to Survive a Plague; — 9:00 pm; — ; 5
Sacrifice; Tu, 5/22 4:00 pm; Harvard Exit; 2
Tatsumi; — 7:00 pm; — ; 3
God Bless America; — 9:30 pm; Uptown 1; 4
Sleepwalk With Me; W, 5/23 9:00 pm; Uptown 2; 4
Superclásico; Th, 5/24 4:00 pm; Egyptian; 4
As Luck Would Have It; Sa, 5/26 6:30 pm; Uptown 1; 3
Charles Bradley: Soul of America; Tu, 5/29 6:30 pm; Harvard Exit; 4
The Revolutionary; Th, 5/31 4:30 pm; Pacific Place 11; 4
170 Hz (NA Premiere); — 9:00 pm; — ; 5
Sunny; Sa, 6/2 11:30 am; Egyptian; 4
Romancing in Thin Air; M, 6/4 4:00 pm; Egyptian; 4
A Checkout Girl’s Big Adventures; Sa, 6/9 12:30 pm; Uptown 1; 4
Nosilatiaj: Beauty; Su, 6/10 11:00 am; Harvard Exit Upstairs; 4*
* These are the numbers I would have given these films, but press screenings and movies on the last day of the festival aren't voted on.
Last year, I tried to be tough on films; this year, I was a bit too lenient. For me, a 3 meant the film was neither good nor bad, while a 4 was good to great, and a 5 was outstanding. Still, I feel I should have given some films (like Sunny and A Checkout Girl’s Big Adventures) a 3 instead of a 4, and in rarer instances, a 3 should have been given a 2. But, the rankings above were my immediate judgments after the film, so I shall let them stand.
As for the films I didn’t get to see (but wanted to):
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Any Day Now
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Dreams of a Life
The Empty Home
Fat Kid Rules the World
Fuck My Wedding
The Invisible War
Long Night’s Journey Into Hell (shorts)
Robot and Frank
Safety Not Guaranteed
Simon and the Oaks
Take This Waltz
Your Sister’s Sister
**An old and very rare leftist film from China.
Some of the films above I hope to see post-festival (I’ve already seen I Wish, which is excellent). Others I’ll have to grab on DVD, or not at all. The list, initially, was longer by one or two titles, but audience reaction and further investigation led me to leave those films off the list.
Now then, since this was the first time I worked as paid staff as the festival, rather than as a volunteer, my experience was different this year from past years; busier (at concessions), but also more rewarding (tips). In addition, though I talked to my seatmates at past festivals (especially when I would pull out my notebook–always a great conversation starter at a movie), I found that the passholders talked to me more this year, for I was now one of them. And when they saw that I was staff…. Plus, I got invited to events and films that I would have had to pay for in years past, such as the parties and the tributes. I also felt that, by the end, I started to know the other seasonal staff that I was working with better than I had as a volunteer. I also talked to the volunteers, since they had to come to us for their free popcorn and soda, but it was the venue managers and house coordinators that I saw and worked with every day. By the end of the festival, even some of the people in the office knew my name.
First, I should mention that I didn’t go to every party, and even fewer Galas (movie+party). I didn’t go to the Opening Night Gala because no one told me I could, until after I had made plans. Then, I didn’t get invites to the first couple of parties because I wasn’t on the staff-generated email list. Once I got on the staff list, I got every update that I was supposed to get, and if I didn’t go to a party, it was because of work, exhaustion, or some other excuse. But first, I burned my fingers.This is why one should never pour coffee directly from the brewer, or at least pay attention while one is doing it. So, after spilling much of the coffee out of the cup in a reaction to the incredible burning sensation and shock that I felt when the coffee hit my fingers, I filled the order, controlled my desire to faint, and then calmly walked over to the sink and doused my hand in cold water. Later I put on some ointment we had upstairs, which worked amazingly well. My fingers stopped hurting after that, and it healed in two days. The picture above is what I wore home that night, but I traded it for a band-aid for the following night, when I went to my first movie+party, a Saturday Gala on May 26. The movie was As Luck Would Have It at 6:30 pm at the Uptown, with Salma Hayek. The party was at Kaspar’s at 8:30. There were appetizers. There were drinks. There was dancing. My yellow staff wristband got me unlimited drinks at the party, as opposed to the two drink limit that everyone else had. Not that it mattered, as I’m not much of a drinker. At the party, I sat with some of the staff from the theater, had two glasses of chardonnay and some rich food, and woke up the next day with a massive headache, which I thought was a result of the aforementioned chardonnay. Except that a hangover doesn’t result in brief and multiple reigns on the porcelain throne. Luckily, while I had to work Sunday, I had the following two days off to recuperate, even slipping in a movie on Tuesday.
I was plenty rested up for the Centerpiece Gala on Saturday, June 2, which is why it was such a shame that I couldn’t go, due to work. Some of my coworkers were meeting for drinks after the official party, but for me, drinks alone do not a party make. There must be either dancing or karaoke, too. Plus, I was tired, so I went home and gave up my two invites to one of my friends, who invited one of her friends to go.
The next party I went to was the Gay-La in Capitol Hill on Wednesday, June 6,at The Lobby Bar. Because I worked until 9:30 and the party was at 8:30, I got there late, apparently after the party reached its peak. The place was nice, but there was no designated dance floor, so apart from people dancing in their chairs, it was a lot of drinking and talking until the bar closed at midnight.
The bar did, however, have a nice view of the road from the upstairs area, where I once again sat with some of my coworkers, including some people who only work the festival, and their friends. I should also mention that, both times, I brought one of my friends, too. That pattern changed for the final three parties I went to. But first, SIFF had its first tribute, An Evening with Sissy Spacek, on Thursday, June 7,at the Uptown.
Long before the festival began, I offered to work that day. Then, the day after the event, I read an email saying that all staff could see the tributes for free (normally, we would have to pay for a ticket, since they cost more than your usual $11 movie). Oh well. I still had some time to duck into the theater for a few minutes here and there to see the Q&A, which was moderated by Richard Corliss. I also saw another familiar person there as part of the press junket. I remembered him from Ebertfest, but it took me awhile to remember his name. Then it hit me: it’s David Poland! We had a red carpet for Spacek, then she was whisked away to the employee break room for any last-minute preparations (and possibly, to nibble on the Theo Mint and Hazelnut bars and drink some of the bottled water that had come from concessions). Apparently, she entered the theater through the lobby, instead of going through the back entrance. Only my boss noticed it, despite concessions being full of people. As such, I only got a picture of the red carpet after she had left, and pictures of her during the Q&A from the back of the room. I also got to use the break room right after she left it, though I refrained from sitting on the director’s chairs there. I’m not that kind of fan. From what I picked up from the Q&A, Spacek thinks it ridiculous to compare “mere mortals” (including herself) to Meryl Streep (Streep is “the best actress…actor…of all time”), believes Jessica Chastain is the best young actress currently working, and loves telling stories. Most of what I heard had to do with The Coal Miner’s Daughter. In short:
Spacek knew how good Tommy Lee Jones was in the film because she knew his real-life counterpart.
Loretta Lynn kept telling people that Spacek would play her in a film. Spacek met with Lynn to squash that rumor.
The Oscar Spacek won made her bankable in Hollywood.
During one of the times I went in, one of the spotlight operators asked me if I would be there long. When I answered in the affirmative, he put me in charge of his spotlight until he returned. All I had to do was turn it off if more clips from Spacek’s career were shown. They weren’t, so I just stood next to it the whole time.
The other tribute was for William Friedkin on Saturday, but he was at the Egyptian and I was working at the Uptown, so I didn’t get to go. Emile Hirsch came, too, as both of them were promoting their new film, Killing Joe, which Friedkin directed and Hirsch starred in.
In between these tributes was the NW Connections Party on Friday, June 8, at The Grill on Broadway, which, unlike the other parties, started late, at 11 pm. This party was for all the local filmmakers who had made films shown during the festival. It is also where local public TV station KCTS gave out the first annual Seattle Reel NW Award, of which they were a sponsor.
While I didn’t see Lynn Shelton there (director of the Opening Night movie, Your Sister’s Sister), I did meet Megan Griffiths, soon after she won her award (I also talked with the person in charge of social media at KCTS). Unfortunately, by that point they had taken her award away (to be given back to her on Closing Night–she also told me she wanted to “keep it [the award] clean”), but despite interruptions occurring every time I talked with her, she seems like a nice person. She even agreed to take a photo with me.
Though that would have been a great time to whip out my business card and ask her to let me know if she ever needs a screenwriter, I did not (not that I’ve even written a screenplay before, but she doesn’t need to know that). To be honest, I wouldn’t mind just being on a movie set and learning as much as I can from the crew. For example, I’d love to learn about cinematography, including lenses, filters, and use of light. I already have a pretty good eye for photography.
But I digress.
After the NW Connections Party (during which I sat, again, with some coworkers), there were only two more on the schedule: the Closing Night Gala (Sunday, June 10 at 8:30 pm), and the Super Secret Staff Party, which started when the Closing Night Gala ended. But before the party, there was the movie, and for the first time all festival, it had multiple screenings. In the same theater. At the same time. I doubt I will ever see concessions that busy again.
The movie was Grassroots, which was based on a book written by a former writer for The Stranger about his friend’s campaign for City Council. Directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal (father of Maggie and Jake), who was in attendance, the film stars Jason Biggs, who was also in attendance, and a dude dressed up in a polar bear outfit, caught later dancing at the party.
Here I feel I should mention something about Biggs. After the movie ended, he stayed around for at least 10-15 minutes, talking with fans, signing autographs, and posing for pictures. In fact, most of the guests at SIFF spent lots of time hanging out with moviegoers once their films had ended, often having to continue conversations in the lobby so that the next film could start on time.
Despite all this time he spent standing right next to our concession stand, I did not get a picture of Jason Biggs. I got something even better: a picture of Jason Biggs’s soda.
The party for the Closing Night Gala was at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. I got there for the last hour with a coworker, who graciously offered me a ride from work. I couldn’t imagine how the Centerpiece Gala could have been better; this one had a cover band. And they were awesome.
As for the Super Secret Staff Party, I cannot tell you anything about it: not where it was held, who went to it, or what occurred during its duration. All I can share with you is this photo:.
The last official SIFF party occurred on Tuesday, June 12, at 4 pm. Like the NW Connections Party, it took place at the Grill on Broadway, after our kickball game at Cal Anderson Park (held at 2 pm). The teams were Operations (which included Floor Staff) versus Artistic. Though Artistic surged back, Operations won 6-5. My contribution was in not catching a ball that resulted in a triple, getting out twice, and wearing the team t-shirt. There was also an unofficial karaoke party on Wednesday night, which I went to after my cleanup shift at the Uptown was over. Apparently, performances from that night can be seen online. For that reason, I’m not going to tell you where it was held, since my voice gave out near the end of “Uptown Girl.” 😛
Next post: my official wrap-up of SIFF 2012, including all the films I saw, all the ones I wish I had seen, and my final impressions of this year’s festival.