What makes filmmaker KATHLYN ALBRIGHT a party girl is her resemblance to a second-grader.
"In a lot of ways, it's like I never progressed past 8 years old," she says. "You know, when you won't go to bed when your parents tell you to. You'd think I would have learned my lesson by now."
San Diego native Albright moved to the Northwest in 1986. Since then, she's helped start several local cinematic institutions, including two production companiesStopworks Creative Media and Pink Raincoatand the Sex on Screen cinema series, a festival of erotica and political films. Albright is also an accomplished video artist; she recently contributed a documentary piece to "body/Body: Aphrodite Raves," a multimedia show at Theater Off Jackson (409 Seventh Ave. S., 206-340-1049). But when Albright doffs her many hats, the party is on, and she's almost always there. A night on the town (or at home) with Albright and friendsmaybe two, maybe 52offers a heady blend of obscure film allusions and beer appreciation.
I first infiltrated Albright's circle at this year's SIFF closing gala, where the festivities began at the Cinerama (2100 Fourth Ave., 206-441-3653) with a screening of Jet Lag. The party then moved into the spacious rooms of the Elliott Grand Hyatt (721 Pine St., 206-774-1234)where everyone buzzed around Canadian director Thom Fitzgerald like bluebottle flies at a gumdrop meltdownonly to spill up the hill to the Egyptian Theater (805 E. Pine St., 206-323-4978). At the Egyptian, "after-party" meant a 45-minute beer line, boozy flirting, rampant name-dropping, and the strangely appropriate Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense projected onto the theater's gargantuan screen.
"I don't think of myself as a party person," Albright confesses. "Now if you ask me if I stay out a lot, yeah, sure I do!" But she's rarely seen hanging from anyone's chandelier. "When you see someone 'partying' on television or in a movie, they're running around and they're in a disco. . . . I don't like that. There's no social interaction."
Ah, yessocial interaction. Cozy parties are just as common as blowout bashes for Albright. Stopworks throws a yearly soiree that this year landed at her Ballard abode, a house whose secret weapon is the dazzling, '50s-style bara bar you expect Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra to belly up to . . . and the expectation is apropos. Regardless of the setting, film geeks are notorious for fetishizing Rat Pack flicks and other retro-hip cinema detritus, and for Albright and her pals, film-centric pop culture is a mode of discourse all its own when the drinks start flowing. On a recent Tuesday night at a Harvard Exit (807 E. Roy St., 206-323-8986) screening, we picked up wild-eyed cinema pundit Bruce Reid; experimental filmmaker Andy Spletzer joined us a few hours later. What ensued was a rambling discussion of Sofia Coppola, the Japanese saiko-hora genre, and the prevalence of eye gouging in Italian thrillersfirst over fried rice and cocktails at Jade Pagoda (606 Broadway Ave. E., 206-322-5900), then over beer and potato chips at the Stumbling Monk (1635 E. Olive Way, 206-860-0916).
It stands to reason that people who practically live in the quiet glow of the silver screen would make their parties as talky as possible. Even for a movie fanatic like Albright, however, the bull sessions can get old.
"At some point, especially if there's a large group of 'filmish' people, they're going to wind up talking about film, all the time. And there is more to life than film; I know people might be shocked to hear that, but it's true." More to life than film? Surethere are film festivities, too, and with those, Albright knows she passes the ultimate test:
"Those of us in the party scene never pay to get in."