Close orbit

An upstart festival fights SIFF gravity.

SATELLITES 2001

runs May 23-June 14 at Consolidated Works, Little Theatre, 911 Media Arts Center and other venues

BANDED TOGETHER, they still look pretty small. That's the dilemma facing the consortium of local film exhibitors and programmers mounting the Satellites 2001: Screens from Outer Spaces series. Now in its fifth year, deliberately timed to coincide with SIFF, the alternative fest pointedly declares it's not competing with the country's largest film festival—but then, how could it? SIFF drew about 140,000 people last year, and Satellites perhaps a thousand.

In part, Satellites '01 defines itself by what SIFF excludes, overlooks, and ignores, creating an eccentric program of some 15 distinct events. The May 24 Independent Exposure night promises an oddball assortment of shorts (see our calendar section for details on this and other events mentioned). Even more defiantly lo-fi are the Super 8 flicks being shown at the Little Theatre May 25-26. Consolidated Works begins its Cinema of Transgression series May 31 with the sort of title you're not likely to find in the glossy SIFF program, Fucked in the Face, about a guy smitten with a gay serial killer. June 1 launches the Grand Illusion's two-week retrospective of the gleefully crude Troma Films oeuvre (e.g., The Toxic Avenger). We can also look forward to feminist- and music-themed shorts at 911, plus various avant-garde packages at other venues.

Most importantly, though disparate in its participants, titles, and intentions, Satellites reminds us that not all films aspire to the multiplex, museum, video store, or mainstream festival. "It's not any kind of a reject festival or anything like that," says the Northwest Film Forum's Deborah Girdwood.

Nor is Satellites in some kind of shoving match with SIFF, she adds. "We don't scheme specifically during this one time of the year, like, 'How do we run a counter-festival?' It's not like that at all. The main thing we decided we wanted to do was to use the long lines of [SIFF] people—who come out of nowhere!--to see [Satellites] films they've never heard of and to give them a schedule so they can actually become aware of what we do all year. Some of them have never even heard of us. It's our way of reaching out—because here they all are."

In regards to SIFF's Shooting in Seattle sidebar, she explains, that's why Satellites shows principally nonlocal films. Out of consideration for area directors potentially looking to get their movies into SIFF or Satellites, she notes, "If there was a local filmmaker, we didn't want them to have to make that choice."

bmiller@seattleweekly.com

 
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