Fifth Annual Spokane Northwest International Film Festival
January 31, Febuary 1, 2, 2003
Metropolitan Performing Arts Center
901 West Sprague Avenue, Spokane WA
Single tickets: $7
Full series: $40
Advance sales: 509-624-2615
OPENING NIGHT - JANUARY 31 8PM
THE BURIAL SOCIETY 100 minutes
Written and directed by Nicholas Racz
One of the most delicious comedy/mysteries in years, this is the story of Sheldon Kasner (Rob LaBelle), mild-mannered accountant for a small bank in Vancouver, B.C., who suddenly finds himself dangled upside-down from a bridge by two goons who want to know where their two million dollars is. Accused of the theft, Sheldon runs away to a small town where he finds refuge by joining the synagogue's burial society, with a group of three elderly men who prepare the bodies of Jews for interment in the local cemetery.
But don't be misled: there's more to Sheldon's story than that. In a film that will remind you of the unexpected switches in a film like "The Usual Suspects," though this is a comedy, there are double-crosses and mistaken identities, all the result of one $2 million crime. Racz's writing and direction are a marvel, as is the work of his cast, including Seymour Cassel as a Jewish mob boss, David Paymer as Sheldon's brother Morry, and Jan Rubes, Allan Rich, and Bill Meilen as the elderly men of the Burial Society.
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 1 1 PM
CELLULOID DREAMS 47 minutes
PRETTY BOYS 47 minutes
Director: James Dunnison
Two new documentaries by Festival favorite James Dunnison ("Stuff," "Organ Music").
So you're a good-looking young guy and want to be a model. Better see "Pretty Boys" first. This documentary follows four young men - one a successful fashion model, the others just hopefuls - from small towns all the way to the runways of Milan for the spring designer shows. It's about what they go through in the way of self-promotion, facing crises of confidence when they're not selected, dealing with the possibility of fame and fortune, but also confronting the likelihood of missing fame, and going back to driving truck for a living. Fascinating and provocative.
"Celluloid Dreams," on the other hand, is about four remarkable film directors who've already made their marks. David Lynch ("Mulholland Drive," "Blue Velvet," "Twin Peaks") talks about the images and ideas that come to him for placement in his films, and shows some of the ways in which he uses them. Canadian independent filmmaker Guy Maddin ("The Heart of the World" - screened at our 2002 festival) shows excerpts from his new film "Dracula." Jean-Pierre Jeunet ("Amelie") talks about how he made the images work in that film. And the American/British twins the Quay Brothers show how they make their strangely beautiful animated films.
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 1 4 PM
THE FLATS 99 minutes
Written and directed by Kelly Requa and Tyler Requa
This fascinating film is about a wild young man, Harper (Chad Lindbergh), coming home to the flats of the Skagit Valley for a brief moment before a court date that could send him to jail. His more restrained friend Luke (Sean Christensen) tries to cool him down while Luke's girlfriend Paige (Jade Herrera) finds Harper strangely attractive. In the course of a few days relationships change and new insights are found, though not quite what we might expect if this were a conventional film. Harper, Luke and Paige all come dangerously close to the edge, but find that what the world takes away may actually come back with dividends. An extraordinary performance by Lindbergh anchors this story of misplaced longing and unexpected love.
The Seattle International Film Festival calls it "A striking feature directorial debut from Kelly and Tyler Requa." Variety says "…the scripting-helming Requa brothers are clearly a team to watch."
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 1 7:30 PM
WAYDOWNTOWN 87 minutes
U.S. theatrical premiere
Written and directed by Gary Burns
The New York Times calls it "A smart, sardonic satire." It's set in downtown Calgary's central shopping and office mall, so connected and self-contained that whole lifetimes might be lived inside. Four young workers make a bet of a month's salary, winner take all, on who can last the longest inside the mall, day or night, without going outside even once. And now it's Day 24, and things are starting to unravel. Tom Bennett (Fabrizio Filippo) is our guide and narrator, a trainee at the Mather company, whose business we never learn. But Sandra (Marya Delver) must follow elderly Mr. Mather, the founder, as he wanders around the stores, because he is a kleptomaniac. Don McKellar is Tom's cubicle-mate, almost catatonic with repressed rage against those who built the mall; and Gordon Currie, 'the office slut,' spends his lunch hour trying for sex in the women's bathroom. Did we say that Tom keeps an ant farm on his desk? Or how desperate everybody is for a breath of outside air, just out of reach on the other side of all that glass?
"Waydowntown" was chosen Best Canadian Feature at the 2000 Toronto International Festival and is a wonderful step in the career of writer-director Gary Burns, whose first feature, "Kitchen Party," was a great hit at our first festival five years ago. The Vancouver Film Festival writes of this film that Burns "Firmly establishes a signature comedic style that places him among the foremost Canadian directors."
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 2 1 PM
OUTPATIENT 109 minutes
Written and directed by Alec Carlin
"Maybe once a year, on good years, a film comes along that knocks your socks off and this is it. Billed as a story about a writer's descent into madness, it is more like an ascent into greatness…. Seattle writer-director Alec Carlin has created riveting, even rhapsodic cinema that will stay with us a long, long time." So says the Palm Springs Desert Sun. The film's own press kit calls it "…a very stylish neo-noir thriller of duplicity, dance, and the descent into madness." Actually it's much more than that, and may not even be about madness at all. What it is about is a writer, Morris Monk (Justin Kirk), soft-spoken and bewildered, committed inadvertently to a mental hospital but now an outpatient under the care of his therapist Dr. Patricia Farrow (Catherine Kellner). They do battle over his treatment, as his old fantasies come to the fore in his new novel, which involves him with a sexy tango dancer, Raven (Claudia Mason), and their assignations together.
One element of this film that will astound the filmmakers and critics in the audience is the remarkable lighting of scenes by cinematographer Andres Garreton. The film was shot in digital video and is the best use of that medium we have seen to date.
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 2 4 PM
BLUE SKIES 7 minutes
Written and directed by Anne Marie Fleming
A strange and powerful film of a Chinese opera singer undergoing an incredible transformation as we watch, and ending up with - well, we won't spoil it for you.
DONOR 29 minutes
Directed by Adele Wilson, Eve Whitaker
Written by Adele Wilson
A witty look at the dilemma of two lesbian partners who decide to have a baby and select the gay brother of one of them to be the sperm donor.
THE BED 12 minutes
Written and directed by John Penhall
You never know what you'll find at a yard sale. This time it's a bed that seems to have magical properties for a couple that wants to escape the rat race. A sweet, sexy short that shows that even if you get what you want it may not be what you need.
AMNESIAC 19 minutes
Written and directed by Bojan Bodruzic
A young man, a refugee from Sarajevo, suffers amnesia after moving to Canada. Trying to recapture his memory of his lost father, he teams up with a Prague filmmaker and returns to look through the city's video archives for evidence of his earlier life. This remarkable work of fiction plays like a documentary.
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 2 7:30 PM
MONSOON WIFE 92 minutes
First festival screening.
Directed by Marlin Darrah
Written by Marlin Darrah and Candy Davis
Set and shot in Cambodia by Oregon filmmaker Marlin Darrah, "Monsoon Wife" is the story of Thomas McIntyre (McGeorge Robinson), a young American expatriate, who has immersed himself in the dark side of Cambodia's sex and drug culture under the tutelage of fellow expat Marty (Steve Boss), but seeks a way out. Now in love with the Cambodian Teeda (Linda Shing), he is tempted by an offer of $5,000 from his old American college nemesis Cliff (Rob Stockton), asking Tom to be his guide through Phnom Penh's sex scene for a week of debauchery. But Cliff has brought his wife along, who was Tom's girlfriend before Cliff.
Before the week is over Tom will have made a life-changing decision and gone through a personal catharsis.
This is the first American film shot entirely in Cambodia since "Lord Jim" in 1964. It is unrated but would probably be R for suggestive sex.