features

DOWN RIVER by Ben Ratner (Vancouver, BC)
SCREENS SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 AT 7PM
(93 min)

A hugely popular success at film festivals across Canada, the star-studded Vancouver drama Down River charts the circle of friendship of four women who live in the same building: an actress struggling to reconcile her religious beliefs with her professional ambitions, an artist living under her father’s stern gaze, a hard-partying rock singer, and at their center, Pearl, a caring older woman who acts as a mentor and mother for them all. When Pearl abruptly departs from their lives, the younger women must find strength within themselves to face their personal and professional challenges.

Down River is a rare drama led by strong female performances, especially Helen Shaver, who plays the benevolent but sly Pearl. Director Ben Ratner, himself an actor, wrote the parts specifically for the actresses he cast, and infuses their soulful performances with his powerful insights into how challenging it is to thrive as an actress in an industry dominated by men.
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Winner of Best World Showcase Feature Film at the 2014 Soho International Film Festival

Winner of the Audience Award for Most Popular Canadian Film at the 2013 Vancouver International Film Festival

Down River – Trailer from Strangeways on Vimeo.

THE DEVICE by Jeremy Berg (Burien, WA)
SCREENS SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 AT 7PM
(87 min)
World premiere!

The most effective thrillers are never solely about the monster, the psycho or the bugged-eye alien. Jeremy Berg’s second feature meditates on family, marriage, technology, memory and trust while serving up healthy doses of the creeps.

Sisters Abby and Rebecca have been divided by an awful incident neither is keen to discuss. They gather to spread the ashes of their recently-deceased mother at the family Lake House (creepy cabin in the woods: check).They are joined by Calvin, husband of Abby and seemingly every woman’s ideal of the sympathetic partner (yet there is something not quite right with him). All goes well until the two sisters visit the site of the horror from years ago, and uncover the titular nefarious object that will change their lives forever.
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SCREENS WITH

Landing Ship X-1
Dave Hanagan – Portland, OR – 8 min
When two spacemen arrive to explore a desolate planet they discover a menacing presence in the form of a ’70s glam rock icon.

CHAT by Greg Lundgren (Seattle, WA)
SCREENS SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 AT 9PM
(82 min)

One webcam, one woman, one take: Chat turns the male gaze on its head (and knees it in the balls for good measure) in this dark comedy shot in a day.

One lackadaisical day, a woman sits down in front of her computer to make the rent by titillating a chat room full of anonymous men (we assume). Our camgirl protagonist racks up the dollars by peeling off layers of clothing, but her anonymous customers reveal much more of themselves through the things they say and the questions they ask of her. Without hesitation, she waves away the gross and gratuitous comments, engaging only when there’s something at stake to be discussed, like the feminist dimension of her work (“I’m my own pimp, right, so that’s feminist”). Juggling, atrocious violin playing, a pervy landlord and a pervier cop all make appearances on screen, as the audience merges with the POV of the chat room.
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NOTHING AGAINST LIFE by Julio Ramírez (Seattle, WA)
SCREENS SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 28 AT 5PM
(90 min)

A fearless, moving drama that addresses the social implications of living with depression, and stigmas surrounding suicide and mental health, Nothing Against Life peers into the lives of four disparate characters whose paths intertwine, as they navigate the razor’s edge of life.

Supported by Northwest Film Forum’s fiscal sponsorship program, Nothing Against Life had its world premiere at the San Marino International Film Festival (Republic of San Marino – Italy), where it won the Special Jury Award from an international jury, led by producer Michael Shamberg (Django Unchained, Erin Brockovich, Pulp Fiction), and sponsored by the Italian Film Press Union and UNICEF.

Directed by Seattle filmmaker Julio Ramirez, and featuring performances from Cynthia Geary (Northern Exposure), Fernando Noriega (Where The Road Meets The Sun, TV Azteca’s Morir en Martes), Hillary Pickles (Police Beat) and Keifer Grimm (Cthulhu, The Summer Before), Nothing Against Life is the story of strangers making the most important decision of their lives: whether to embrace reality and all of its contradictions, or to put their lives away. The film was produced by Ramirez and Carl Adelson (cinematographer of the film), and executive produced by Dorothy Bullitt.
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MIND ZONE: THERAPISTS BEHIND THE FRONT LINE by Jan Haaken (Portland, OR)
SCREENS SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 28 AT 7PM
(50 min)

A documentary about therapists working in the 113th Army Combat Stress Control detachment. Their mission is two-fold (and contradictory): protecting soldiers from battle fatigue and keeping these same soldiers in the fight.

Director Jan Haaken’s mission is also two-fold: to tell the story of the psychological impact of war from the perspective of soldiers who experience it, and to contextualize this within the field of psychology. With psychiatric casualties mounting, the United States Army ups the deployment of mental health detachments to war zones—an undertaking on a scale previously unimaginable. As the 113th is deployed to Afghanistan and trains for their dual roles as soldiers and healers, Colonel David Rabb and his team of therapists are equipped with a wide arsenal of psychological techniques. But as they arrive to replace the previous Combat Stress Control unit, they learn the gravity of the tasks ahead and face daunting challenges in carrying out their conflicting missions.
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SCREENS WITH

Clipped Wings
Leo Pfeifer, Duncan Gowdy, Coleman Andersen – Seattle – 14 min
A personal look into brave protest against practices of discrimination in the Boyscouts of America.

RETURN OF THE RIVER by John Gussman and Jessica Plumb (Port Townsend, WA)
SCREENS SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 28 AT 7PM
(83 min)

The history and the story of the building of the Elwah Dam are chronicled in this Pacific Northwest epic. There are “villains,” who are actually just ambitious people who want reasonable things (hydro-electric power and jobs for the people of Port Angeles), and “heroes,” who want equally reasonable things (to set the Elwah River free, to allow the salmon, so critical to the health and well-being of the region, to spawn naturally, to return dignity to the indigenous people of the area).
By the time this documentary reaches its bracing conclusion, after charting 100 years of history and conflict, it is clear the story has only begun to be told.

Framed by a beautifully written narration told from the point of view of the great Elwah itself, stunningly photographed and infused with a rare optimism, Return of the River will make you proud to live in the PNW.
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SCREENS WITH

Catch It
Sarah Menzies – Seattle, WA – 10 min
One surfer’s nomadic lifestyle takes her to the pristine waves of the Lofoten Islands in Northern Norway.

KOINONIA by Andrew Finnigan (Port Orchard, WA)
SCREENS SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 28 AT 9PM
(94 min)

Casting the Pacific Northwest as an expansive, open air nightmare, Koinonia meditates on the horror of looking at yourself in the mirror, if you are the last human alive.

John (Tony Doupe) might be the final person on Earth, and the film follows his somber slump towards a faint hope—the fabled last human city, Faraday—that he probably made up while playing backgammon with himself.

Director Andrew Finnigan’s take on post apocalyptic sci-fi builds an atmosphere of lonely, steady ache, with an eye for desolate detail in the dystopian wilderness. Every tree looks abandoned, and every horizon engulfs. In these moments the film succeeds quietly, hovering on the nostalgic look flashed by John when he sees a new face in a long-lost photograph.
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SCREENS WITH

Prospect
Zeek Earl & Chris Caldwell – Seattle, WA – 14 min
A teenage girl must use her wits to survive on a toxic alien planet.

SPEED OF SOUND by Brian Perkins (Seattle, WA)
SCREENS MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 29 AT 7PM
(56 min)


Dave (Zach Weintraub) awakes one day to a mysterious text message from a friend who passed away a year ago. Dave tries to go about his day as usual by meeting up with a friend for a game of tennis, and makes camping plans with his girlfriend. But uncanny connections to the past begin to emerge. Friends and stories that are connected to the ghost force Dave to confront his relationships, and what happened to his friend.

The production backstory of the film shares a sad resonance with the premise: Perkins originally planned to make the film with his friend Dave, who would star in the lead role. When Dave passed away unexpectedly, Perkins was faced with the question of whether to continue with the production, and who would replace his friend.
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SCREENS WITH
The Maury Island Incident
Scott Schaefer – Seattle, WA – 30 min
A supernatural incident off the coast of Maury Island in the 1940s leads to paranoia for the man who witnessed it, and endless mystery for the detective assigned to solve the case. ”
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PLAIN DEVIL by Tonija Atomic (Seattle, WA)
SCREENS MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 29 AT 9PM
(56 min)


On the tough streets of Seattle, a girl gang of she-devils takes on an Eastern European immigrant, in the style of John Waters-meets-Perfect Strangers.

A new girl must prove herself worthy of joining the ranks of the ferocious gang by prevailing in cat fights and wars of words. Jam-packed with tattoos, street cred, arcade brawls, hater shades, astounded immigrant parents, bowtied nerds, matching jackets and loitering, for a camptastic good time.
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SCREENS WITH
Maureen
Kara Schoonmaker and Anna Conser – Seattle, WA – 30 min
A mystical journey through a surrealist world.

BUBBLE BUBBLE MEOWS AND THE METEOR STOMACHACHE by Matt Orefice (Seattle, WA)
SCREENS TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30 AT 7PM
(82 min)
Coloring book happy hour at 6pm!


What do chicken beak butter, kitten eyelashes, and watermelon spray all have in common? They are the key ingredients in a casserole cure for stomachaches caused by meteor consumption. It’s up to the painstakingly animated cat Bubble Bubble Meows to find these medicinal elements and save his friend, a stringbean with interstellar pica and a lisp.

BBM and Stringbean are accompanied on their quest by three robots of varying intelligence levels who hurl insults like “wet kaboppy” and resemble marshmallows. Along the way, they encounter Paul, a hyper-caffeinated feline who has long since blown past the coffee threshold, a lollipop-licking snow pea, a coffee-slinging duck voiced by the director’s mother-in-law, and a pile of cottage cheese named Mr. Knowitall. Tangential themes include expository voiceover by a Japanese narrator and the proletariat struggles of a trumpet animalcule named Nuncio against the Randian superhero mayor of a burgeoning trumpet animalcule metroplex.

Surely no poorly drawn cat has ever driven a baked potato car with as fine a theme tune on such kookoo bookoo bonkers adventures! Audiences may find themselves exclaiming, “oh wowsh!” upon exiting the theater. Not for the unaltered of mind.
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  • Join us before the screening of Bubble Bubble Meows, at 6pm, for a rad-tastic coloring book happy hour in the Film Forum lobby. Create your own baked potato car and give the coffee threshold some pizazz by crayon-ing actual frames from the film.

SCREENS WITH

Midnight Tourist
Koray Kocaturk – Everett, WA – 5 min
For one little boy, Seattle literally comes to life.

Remember. . .
Peter Ray – Vashon Island, WA – 2 min
Listen up, peeps: wise words to live by.

THE EXHIBITION by Miho Yamamoto & Damon Vignale (Vancouver, BC)
SCREENS TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30 AT 8PM
(92 min)

Mid-’90s, Vancouver, B.C.: a series of young, marginalized women (mostly drug-addicted sex workers) and many Aboriginal go missing. Despite inescapable evidence this is the work of a serial killer, and despite the emergence of an extremely likely suspect (pig farmer Robert Pickton), the indifferent Vancouver police delay and largely ignore the case, ultimately costing multiple more women their lives. What is eventually discovered is the largest serial killer case in Canadian history.

In response, renowned artist Pamela Masik attempts to mount a confrontational art exhibit featuring portraits of the victims. Despite what appears to be a sincere, self-funded attempt to draw attention away from the killer and towards the victims and the societal issues that cause such crimes to occur, her motivations are questioned.

The Exhibition is a moving documentary about a disturbing part of Vancouver’s past. It raises questions about the meaning of art, censorship, cultural identity and the systematic forgetting of marginalized peoples’ lives and deaths.
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SCREENS WITH

La Trocha
Ian Bell – Seattle, WA – 15 min
The story of the Wounaan, an indigenous community plagued by industry, and “a government who does not see the indian.”

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