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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

January means that SpIFF isn’t far behind

It's January, which to me means two things:

1, The joy of Christmas has passed and we're left facing three long months of dark, cold days.

2, The Spokane International Film Festival is just around the corner.

This is the festival's 15th year, which says something for a city that has trouble supporting its single art-movie house (the Magic Lantern). But it is indicative not only of the work put in by the volunteers who put on the event but also the ongoing support by those who — as the festivals tagline says — want to "see what the world is watching."

I serve on the festival's board, which basically means that I get to see a lot of crappy movies for free. And then get into arguments with other board members — say, for example, festival director Pete Porter — about what's worth showing. And what's not. I seldom win.

But my board position hardly prevents me from commenting on the festival's lineup here. I've never held back on my opinions, even when it once caused me to get banned from the Magic Lantern (true story). So believe me when I say that this year's festival is as good as ever. Maybe, if the single film that I championed is any indication, even better. That film, "Le Tableau" ("The Painting") is a bit of French animation that I saw last year in Seattle. And it is one of the best films I saw in 2012.

Even better might be the Feb. 1 opening-night program, which features three movies — anchored by "The Iran Job" which is described as the "story of an American basketball player in Iran" — at the Bing Crospy Theater.

So check SpIFF out (ticket information here). It runs from Feb. 1-10, and attending it really is the least you could do as a Spokane-based lover of movies. Besides, it's one of the only worthwhile things going in all this cold and dark.