Letters From the Big Man

We in the Northwest feel protective of the Bigfoot legend; whether you believe in the Sasquatch or not, he’s our folklore icon to claim. Yet in one of the most audaciously oddball films at SIFF this year, set in the woods of Oregon, writer-director Christopher Munch makes Sasquatch his muse. The shy, gentle creature never speaks directly to forestry worker Sarah; but she begins to sense his presence as we, in turn, hear some of his murmuring advice. “Only with your own heart will you know us,” he intones, but Sarah’s nursing a broken heart. A former U.S. Forestry Service hydrologist turned artist, she takes a contract job with the feds to survey an old burn in the beautiful Klamath-Siskiyou region. It is, for her and Munch both, a kind of ecstatic Thoreauean paradise, a place to meditate on the abundance and resurgence of life. (She even does yoga, to the Sasquatch’s puzzlement.) As Sarah conducts her solitary research, then later types up her report in a cabin, the wonderful young New York stage actress Lily Rabe—daughter of playwright David Rabe and the late actress Jill Clayburgh—manages to command our attention in scene after scene without dialogue. Munch just has her work, exercise, and paint while we (and the Sasquatch) develop a silent bond with Sarah. Though there’s also talk of logging and federal land-use policies, and even a love interest for her (no, not Bigfoot), she’s most at home in the woods. (Note that Munch will attend all screenings of this peculiar, remarkable film.) BRIAN MILLER

Fri., June 10, 6:30 p.m.; Sat., June 11, 4:30 p.m., 2011

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