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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.