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Archive: Movies / Spokane and North Idaho

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SpIFF 19 faces a comic apocalypse

If you've been having trouble scoring tickets for any of the 19th Spokane International Film Festival screenings, your struggle is over — for the night, at least. The festival moves to the Bing Crosby Theater tonight for a pair of events.

2017 Best of the Northwest (5:30): Eight short films exploring a variety of subjects made by filmmakers hailing from all over the Northwest.

"Diani and Devine Meet the Apocalypse" (7:30): An offbeat comedy about two comedians who are faced with an end-of-the-world scenario.

SpIFF 2017 returns on Saturday to the Magic Lantern with a full schedule and culminates with a special screening at the Martin Woldsen Theatre at The Fox of the silent classic "The Phantom of the Opera" accompanied by the Spokane Symphony.

Click here for SpIFF ticket information.

SpIFF 19 explores the power of art, nature

The 19th Spokane International Film Festival continues tonight at the Magic Lantern with two completely different offerings, one a narrative feature based on a true story, the other a documentary study of life in a garden.

"Nise — The Heart of Madness" (6:30): Based on a segment in the life of Brazilian psychiatrist Nise da Silveira, director Roberto Berliner's film focuses on da Silveira's tenure at a mental hospital where — to the disdain of her colleagues — she pioneered the use of art and other therapies to help her patients. In Portuguese with English Subtitles.

"Portrait of a Garden" (6:45): Dutch director Rosie Stapel guides us through a year in the life of and estate garden, exploring not only the plants but those who care for them. The Village Voice calls it "a balm for the soul." In Dutch with English subtitles.

Films have been selling out, so you might want to purchase your tickets early.

SpIFF continues through Saturday. Like the Magic Lantern itself, it's a Spokane cinematic treasure, well worth attending — and supporting.

The week’s openings redux: SpIFF goes international

Along with the two mainstream openings listed below, a third film is scheduled to open Friday in area theaters. And the 19th Spokane International Film Festival continues tonight with a pair of showings.

Friday's additional opening:

"The Comedian": Robert De Niro — yes, the Robert De Niro — plays an aging insult comic who is seeking another shot at fame. You looking at me?

And tonight's SpIFF schedule (both screenings are at the Magic Lantern):

"Lost in Paris" (6:30): A Canadian woman heads to the City of Lights to find her elderly aunt who has gone missing. Comic disasters ensue. In French and English (with English subtitles).

"District Zero" (6:45): A man living in a Jordanian refugee camp amid thousands of displaced Syrians goes about life fixing mobile phones. A meditation on the meaning of existence. In Arabic with English subtitles.

Note: Screenings have been selling out, so get your tickets early.

The week’s openings: SpIFF is feline great

On Friday, the mainstream theaters look to be opening only a pair of first-run releases. But the Spokane International Film Festival will be operating all week long. So … make sure to take in a movie. Or three.

Friday's mainstream openings according to the national schedule:

"The Space Between Us": A teenager born and raised on Mars falls in love with an Earth girl. Will their different physiologies, Mars versus Earth, keep them apart?

"Rings": How many times can we remake the 1998 Japanese horror film "Ringu"? You know, the one about a videotape that, once you see it, dooms you to death within seven days? It's an endless process, apparently.

As for tonight's offerings from SpIFF, which is screening films at the Magic Lantern:

6:30: "Kedi" is a documentary about feral cats in the city of Istanbul. Screening in the Lantern's larger auditorium, the film (mostly in Turkish with English subtitles) gives a good feel for Istanbul street life.

6:45: A collection of U.S. and Canadian shorts will screen in the Lantern's smaller theater.

SpIFF movies tend to sell out. So better show up early.

SpIFF 19 set to premiere on Friday

It's been 19 years since the Contemporary Arts Alliance, with the help of the late film critic Bob Glatzer, presented the first version of what would become the Spokane International Film Festival.

In those days, the festival was a brief affair, the "international" label referring mostly to a few Canadian entries. But over the years, under the guidance of Glatzer and later Pete Porter and now Adam Boyd, the festival has grown. The version that begins Friday at The Bing Crosby Theater, while perhaps more modest than in some past years, proves just how viable the annual event has become.

SpIFF 2017, most of which will screen at the Magic Lantern Theater,  will feature some two dozen features and documentaries, and six different programs of short films, representing countries as diverse as Israel and Iceland, Bulgaria and Japan — with a number of U.S. and Canadian efforts as well. And, as always, area filmmakers will be well represented in the Best of the Northwest shorts showcase.

Attention to locally made films has been a festival priority in recent years, what with revival showings of "Vision Quest." This year, the festival Opening Gala at The Bing will be Rich Cowan's 1999 film "The Basket."

The local angle? Though the movie features two big-name stars in Peter Coyote and Karen Allen, it was directed by Spokane's Cowan, written by Cowan and three other city residents — Don Caron, Frank Swoboda and Tessa Swoboda — was produced by North by Northwest Entertainment and was shot in and around Spokane.

Many of the film's principals will be at the screening to participate in a post-screening Q&A.

"The Basket" will show at 7:30 p.m. and will be followed by the SpIFF Opening Party at the Montvale Event Center.

So get your tickets now, not just for the Opening Gala but for the whole festival. And I'd advise getting them early as most of the screenings will be held at the Magic Lantern, which has limited seating.

If you're a fan of film, you won't want to miss out.

SpIFF 2017 and more are coming up

Movie fans get ready: Two of Spokane's annual film events are nearly upon us.

The Spokane International Film Festival will run from Jan. 27 to Feb. 5. Following one of the festival's founding principles of supporting local film and filmmakers, SpIFF 2017 will open with a showing at the Bing Crosby Theater of the regionally produced 1999 production "The Basket." You can access the full festival lineup here.

Before that, the Spokane Jewish Cultural Film Festival will run Jan. 19, 21-22 at Gonzaga University's Hemmingson Center. The opening movie will be the French-language production "Once in a Lifetime."

It hardly needs to be said — but I'll go ahead and say it anyway — Spokane is fortunate to have two such quality annual movie events.

SpIFF 2016: The audience applauds

Above: Rich Hinz co-stars in Shirlyn Wong's film "The Mobile Stripper."

And, finally, the audience has its say. Following my posting of the juried awards for the films screened at the 2016 Spokane International Film Festival, now come the audience awards (courtesy of SpIFF co-director Adam Boyd). They are as follows:

Best Animated Short: "If I Was God"

Best Documentary: "Landfill Harmonic"

Best Feature: "My Internship in Canada"

Best Short: "Marty"

Best International Short: "Crevette"

Best of the NW Short: "The Mobile Stripper"

Best of the NW Feature: "The Glamour and the Squalor"

By the way, Boyd reports that Jason McKee's short "Marty" received 93 percent of the votes for its screening. McKee also was the jury pick for Best of NW Filmmaker.

SpIFF 2016: Here are the award-winners

Above: Fred Ewanuick and Chelah Horsdal star in O. Corbin Saleken's feature film "Patterson's Wager."

In case you missed it, here are the juried award winners from the 2016 Spokane International Film Festival, which finished its run Saturday (the audience favorites are still being compiled):

Best Feature: "Patterson's Wager"

Best Documentary: "Circus Without Borders"

Best Short Film (Gold): "Listen"

Best Short Film (Silver): "Big Boy"

Best Animated Short: "Otto"

Best NW Feature: "Frank and the Wondercat"

Best of NW Short (Gold):  "The Mobile Stripper"

Best of NW Short (Silver): "The Mayor of Ballard"

Best of NW Filmmaker (presented by STCU): Jason McKee

Most Promising Filmmaker: Travis Lien

That's it for 2016. Many thanks to the events sponsors, especially STCU and Eastern Washington University. SpIFF co-directors Adam Boyd and Pete Porter deserve special recognition, as does Volunteer of the Year Kendra Ann Sherrill.

Next up: SpIFF 2017.

Special note: Along with my "Movies 101" cohosts, I had the honor of presenting "Patterson's Wager" when it played at The Bing. As someone who is a special fan of writer-director O. Corbin Saleken, a double-winner at the 2012 SpIFF, I was happy to see his film win the festival's top award. A sweet blend of fantasy and romance, "Patterson's Wager" boasts one of the more pleasing endings of any film I've ever seen. A festival highlight, the film left everyone who walked out of The Bing feeling better for having experienced it. Let's hope this is just the beginning of Corbin's career, and that he returns to Spokane soon.

SpIFF 2016: Canadian diversity and Japanese whales

Way back at the turn of the century, when Bob Glatzer ran what he called the Spokane Northwest International Film Festival, SNIFF (as we smilingly called it) used to play a lot of Canadian films. Now that the contemporary version of the festival is in being held, and is in its last three days, it's worthwhile noting that a Canadian influence still exists.

Tonight's two screenings at the 2016 Spokane International Film Festival (SpIFF), both of which are playing at the Magic Lantern Theater, are:

"My Internship in Canada" (6:30 p.m.): In the spirit of international diversity, this French-Canadian political comedy explores what happens when an astute Haitian political science student accepts an internship with an independent member of parliament in Northern Quebec and finds himself in the middle of a governmental firestorm. In French with English subtitles.

"The Name of the Whale" (7 p.m.): A Japanese film focusing on a young boy's summer in which great changes occur involving a sick grandfather, his mother's new partner, the departure of a friend and a school project involving looking for whale fossils. In Japanese with English subtitles.

For more information, click here.

SpIFF 2016: Teens in trouble

And now, with four days to go, I present tonight's lineup for the 2016 Spokane International Film Festival. Both film porgrams are screening at the Magic Lantern Theater:

"Bridgend" (6:30 p.m.): Based on real events, this film — shot in Wales — follows a young woman and her father who come to live in a small village that has been rocked by a succession of teen suicides. A first effort by Danish filmmaker Jeppe Rønde, it won three awards at the Tribeca Film Festival.

A program of U.S. and Canadian short films (7 p.m.): Five shorts, including the zombie flick "Love Is Dead." NOTE: This showing is sold out.

For more information, click here.

Spiff 2016: Cats and (not in) shorts

The 2016 Spokane International Film Festival continues tonight with a pair of screenings. They are as follows:

"Frank the Wondercat" (6:30 p.m.): This U.S. documentary explores the life of Frank Furko, an 80-year-old Pittsburgh man, and his 20-pound performing cat, Pudgie Wudgie.

World Shorts Program (7 p.m.): A collection of international shorts from Australia, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany and Switzerland. NOTE: This program is sold out.

For further festival information, click here.

SpIFF 2016: A road trip in 1835

Before we get to what's opening in mainstream movie theaters this week, let's check out tonight's schedule for the 2016 Spokane International Film Festival. Both screenings will be at the Magic Lantern Theater.

"Aferim!" (6:30 p.m.): The year is 1835, and two riders in search of a a run-away slave encounter a variety of contrasting cultures that make up Eastern Europe. In Romanian, Turkish, and Romany with English subtitles

"Animation Showcase" (7 p.m.): Films from Canada, Finland, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia and Spain, all with English subtitles. NOTE: This screening has been sold out.

SpIFF 2016 continues through Saturday. Get your tickets now.

SpIFF 2016 update: Becker ‘unlikely’

Update to my post regarding Friday's "Vision Quest" screening at the 2016 Spokane International Film Festival: As noted below, news has come that the 1985 film's director, Harold Becker, is — according to festival co-director Pete Porter — "unlikely" to attend the show. However, both star Matthew Modine and author Terry Davis (author of the book on which the movie was based) are scheduled to be there.

For a full SpIFF schedule, click here.

SpIFF 2016: Go on a ‘Vision Quest’

Note: The following post has been updated to reflect a change in "Vision Quest" director Harold Becker's status.

For the second time, the Spokane International Film Festival — or SpIFF, as we like to call it — is going on a vision quest. Or, rather, a "Vision Quest."

Four years ago, SpIFF presented a special showing of Harold Becker's 1985 film, which was adapted from Terry Davis' novel and — as with the novel — was set in Spokane. The film played at The Garland Theater and attracted a full house.

On Friday, the 2016 version of SpIFF will kick off at 7:30 p.m. at the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox with a second screening of "Vision Quest." Friday's program, which will be hosted by Spokane author Jess Walter, will include personal appearances by author Davis and star Matthew Modine; director Becker, though originally scheduled to appear, is doubtful.

But that's just a small portion of what SpIFF 2016 has to offer. Festgoers will have access to shorts and features from all over the world, plus special filmmaker visits and opening and closing parties. For a full schedule lineup, click here.

This year, most films will screen at the Magic Lantern (the two houses boasting 100 and 33 seats respectively). So be sure to buy your tickets or passes as soon as you can (click here). You don't want to get left out.

What kind of a vision quest would that be?

Catch a SpIFF favorite, ‘Wildlike,’ on Friday

Those movie fans who receive emails from the Spokane International Film Festival know something that the average movie fan perhaps does not: "Wildlike," one of the award-winning movies to play the 2015 SpIFF event will soon be available for popular viewing.

Soon as in (or on) Friday. Popular viewing as in On Demand.

As the SpIFF website points out, " 'Wildlike,' a film by Frank Hall Green, was a SpIFF 2015 favorite. Winner of the 2015 Audience Award and Silver SpIFFy Award for Best of the NW Feature, this film was celebrated by all." All who saw it, that is.

You can check out the film's Facebook page here. And you can pre-order the film through iTunes here.

And make sure to make down the dates Jan. 29-Feb. 6. That's when the 2016 version of SpIFF will be held.