1 REEL FILM FESTIVAL
Intiman Theater, Northwest Court Stage, and EMP Sky Church Aug. 31-Sept. 3
JUST THINK—from the 180 bloated, melodramatic minutes all humanity wasted at Pearl Harbor, enterprising directors could've made six excellent half-hour flicks out of the same unexposed film stock. Or 12 quarter-hour pieces. Or 18 10-minute jobs. Or 60 three-minute spots. What a waste of precious celluloid! (Damn you, Michael Bay. Damn you to hell!)
Therein lies the beauty of short films, and therein lies the attraction of Bumbershoot's sixth annual 1 Reel Film Festival, where the longest titles on the four-day program run about a half-hour, and the shortest take only 30 seconds of your valuable time.
Best of all, of the roughly 116 pictures in this year's lineup, none star Ben Affleck.
There's a lot to choose from, far too much to describe here, so festival curator Warren Etheredge has usefully programmed the movies into 45-minute blocks. That way you can wait in line outside the Intiman Theater—where most but not all flicks unreel—to see a thematically linked handful of films in one sitting, then move on to Bumbershoot's musical or culinary offerings. (Or just stay put for more movies.)
In his second year of choosing flicks, Etheredge has upped the pressure on domestic talent by restricting 1 Reel to all-American fare. In the past, he frankly acknowledges, foreign animation has been far superior to homegrown 'toons, but that's all changing with CGI technology.
The full schedule can be found on p. 74 in our official Bumbershoot guide, so we won't bother with all the show times and exact program contents here. Instead, 1 Reel's principal highlights include . . .
B-MOVIE MADNESS Three late-night screenings of schlocky, over-the-top exploitation flicks by Troma Pictures, each shown simultaneously on two screens at the Sky Church. Friday sees Class of Nuke 'Em High, about zombified teens, which is preceded by Attack of the Killer Monkey Brains, by local auteur Johnny Seattle (a nom de screen, we assume). Brains evidently concerns a radio call-in host whose testicles run amok owing to a strange scientific experiment gone horribly, horribly wrong. Saturday boasts Cannibal! The Musical by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, plus two tasteless shorts (we hope) by local director Brady Hall. Sunday yields Surf Nazis Must Die!, worth seeing for its title alone, plus more shorts. (Bonus: You can drink during the proceedings, which begin at 11 p.m.)
PANEL DISCUSSIONS We know what you're thinking ("Booorrring!"), but that doesn't have to be true. Local avant-garde filmmakers Karl Krogstad and Janice Findley will present and discuss their works on Friday (NW Court Stage, 9:30 p.m.). (Krogstad apparently once shot a Rolling Stones video, which he'll show among other works continuing Saturday and Sunday at the same hour.) Saturday, 1 Reel's Etheredge will interrogate a few visiting celebs on the subject of why recognized Hollywood actors continue to perform in short films (9 a.m.). Local directors get their due with Sunday's "Northwest Shorts" screening and discussion (8 p.m.).
SHORT FLICKS Here's the true raison d'etre of 1 Reel—the films themselves. Selected from more than 1,000 entries, these pictures range from serious to frivolous, poetic to profane. (Parents should assume that the median MPAA rating here would be "R.") The younger set is represented on Friday's "Hollywood High School" compendium, presenting the works of under-18 directors from here, not Hollywood (2 p.m.).
Having previewed a dozen-plus titles, we can make certain recommendations. (The best efforts are accordingly grouped in Monday's concluding two "Best of the Fest" packages.) Former local director Evan Mather's Fansom The Lizard anchors Friday's animation group (3 p.m.). Recalling Matisse-like cutouts, the colorful Fansom charmingly mixes music with one poor yellow reptile's pining for lost love (prompting a road trip to Vegas).
The same day's Northwest directors segment (4 p.m.) includes Brian McDonald's Slamdance prize-winning White Face, a deft and light-handed racial allegory that doesn't bludgeon a single joke (and which nicely sends up Ken Burns documentaries along the way). In the same package, the almost entirely computer-generated Shadowgraph artfully meditates on the trajectory of a bullet, like the famous arrow shot in Robin Hood (but thankfully without Kevin Costner).
In a Saturday grouping of teen-themed flicks (noon), Bean Cake is a quiet, adroit Cannes prize-winner. In 1933 Tokyo, fourth-grade student Taro is forced to choose between his mother's favorite recipe and compulsory emperor worship, making for a poignant but not depressing fable about conformity and coming-of-age.
The mock-xenophobic "Darn Fur'ners!" package (2 p.m.) includes the extremely funny France-bashing short Ferm頌a Porte (literally, "close the door") about a cranky, would-be Gaul living in his own mind. In successively mangled and subtitled Franglish voice-overs, our hero muses, "Work is an evil mistress," when not smoking in the shower or otherwise making like Sartre.
Impressive computer animation distinguishes Dim Bulb, whose surly, death-obsessed protagonist laments, "The more we shine, the quicker we fail!" It's part of a dream-themed omnibus (3 p.m.) that also includes Once, in which a woman amusingly wonders why she can't slug strangers—once—among other taboos.
OUR TOP PICK for 1 Reel is Delusions in Modern Primitivism, about which the less said the better. Part of the "Kids Today" lineup (5 p.m.), it takes piercing, tattooing, and body art to their logical conclusion—or at least that's what its not-so-bright subject thinks. Opines Jerome, "Metaphorically . . . I am being attacked by the world around me."
The Man with the Empty Room (6 p.m.) provides a deadpan, Orwellian study in loneliness. Meanwhile, Clay Pride is a funny but obvious claymation satire—featuring a shadowy figure who looks suspiciously like Gumby!--in the same package (7 p.m.) as the slick, brisk, and thoroughly commercial goldfish crisis movie Gulp.
Bullet in the Brain (8 p.m.) is an accomplished if overly literary work featuring Tom Noonan (What Happened Was . . .) and Dean Winters (Oz), narrated by George Plimpton and based on a story by Tobias Wolf. The same program boasts A Perfect Storm's John C. Reilly in the droll, Walter Mittyesque Frank's Book (with the additional benefit of a cameo by Frank Black).
Sunday you can enjoy animation that's variously rendered by computer (Horses on Mars), hand (Repetition Compulsion), claymation (Window), and stop-motion (the wonderfully bizarre Lint People) in one convenient package (5 p.m.).
Eyeball Eddie (6 p.m.) is a pleasing if predictable high school tale, while Dot Dot Dot (7 p.m.) lifts a page from Wong Kar-wai in its study of romantic chance and connection.
Monday sees the cool, locally shot Space Needle: Twice Around (1 p.m.), animated from still photographs, and the affecting, award-winning Helicopter (2 p.m.). Finally, the winners of the animated and live-action categories will be announced following each concluding "Best of the Fest" screening (3 and 4 p.m.).