Reel NW and Indie Seattle
By Robert Horton
This week's Reel NW title is Bone Wind Fire, Canadian filmmaker Jill Sharpe's examination of three artists and their habitats: Georgia O'Keefe and the American Southwest; Frido Kahlo and Mexico; and, closest to home, Emily Carr and the green density of British Columbia.
Of course after you watch that you can measure the feature-version portraits with Salma Hayek (Frida) and Joan Allen (Georgia O'Keefe); looks like the life of Emily Carr is still waiting for some enterprising Canadian production company to seize the opportunity.
Since we're talking about female artists and the Northwest filmmaking community, we might note that a film is being shot in Seattle right now by "rising indie helmer" (in the words of Deadline.com) Megan Griffiths. And Deadline is right: Griffiths is a rising director of the independent world, having seen success with her festival hit The Off Hours and her soon-to-be-released Eden, a gripping based-on-fact account of a woman kidnapped into sex slavery (that's the movie that took the Reel NW award at SIFF in 2012). Griffiths's new one is Lucky Them, a project that was being developed by Paul Newman before he died; Toni Collette, Thomas Haden Church, and Oliver Platt are in the cast.
Which leads me to another segue. In my last post I promised/threatened to talk about the Museum of History and Industry's current "Celluloid Seattle: A City at the Movies" exhibit, which I had the honor of curating. The exhibit follows two parallel stories: how Seattle has been imagined by movies and TV over the course of 100+ years, and also how Seattle has gone to the movies in that time. For the first story, after tracing the image of Seattle through its lumberjack days, into the interesting gritty-noir period of the 1970s and 80s, and then into the trendy phase of Sleepless in Seattle, we arrive at what's going on today.
And what's happening right now is what makes "Celluloid Seattle" a present-tense history exhibit. As luck would have it, the exhibit is opening at a moment when Seattle filmmakers are having a new kind of visibility, and we've got artifacts, film clips, and posters to illustrate that. We've also got new video interviews with people who make movies here, one of whom is Megan Griffiths.
In her interview segment, she talks about how the film community of Seattle has been an important boost to her efforts, and how she performed a variety of different jobs on other people's movies before taking her own shot at directing. She talks about how Seattle has met a few thresholds lately—movies celebrated at Sundance, or securing national distribution—that qualify as real milestones.
Come down to MOHAI and get some of the flavor of this movement. And on the way, keep watch for a film crew shooting on a street near you.