Archive for the ‘signs’ Category

SIFF spotlight: programming a festival

This year’s SIFF presents 189 narrative features, 54 documentary features, 13 archival films, and 150 short films from 67 countries. Twenty-five of those films are world premieres. Thirty-six are North American premieres and 12 are US premieres. No matter you how slice it, that’s a lot of films – and those are just the films that made it into the festival programming. Every year SIFF gets thousands of submissions for their festival. So how do they decide which films make it in?

Dan Doody, programmer of the Midnight Adrenaline series, and Clare Canzoneri, who programs Face the Music, explained the process to me.

The work of the programming panel – the group of programmers responsible for deciding what goes in and what doesn’t – begins in winter of the previous year, around November or December, although SIFF programming manager Beth Barrett tracks films from other festivals all throughout the year, festivals like Toronto, San Sebastian, Sundance, Rotterdam, and Berlin. While the SIFF team are keeping an eye on other festivals to see what’s other there, they’re also sending out the word that they’re accepting submissions.

And submissions they get. When the programming panels start meeting in January to talk about what films they might want included in the upcoming festival, they’re facing around 4,000 submissions, each of which needs to be reviewed along with the many films the programmers have solicited directly after seeing them at another festival or by keeping their ears open for buzz about new films.

The winnowing process starts early, says Dan. The first order of business is to weed out films that aren’t quite SIFF quality. This doesn’t necessarily that they’re bad films, just that they don’t fit; for example, “We got a bunch of Asian films that were very region specific and weren’t a good fit for Western audiences.”

By February, the programmers start “hammering down” in their panel dicussion: “I liked this – can someone else take a look at it?” is the primary question of the day. Sometimes the decision to include a film is easy – all, or at least a majority, of the programmers feel confident that a particular movie is a great fit for SIFF. Sometimes there’s equally agreement in the other direction. And sometimes there’s disagreement – a specific film’s champion might have to fight for it and win over the rest of the panel.

All of the films do get watched. SIFF manages this amazing job by utilizing a team of pre-screeners who take home boxes of films to review. While sitting around watching movies all day sounds pretty easy and fun, there is some serious work involved. Surely you’ve brought home at least one movie that you disliked enough to turn it off a few minutes in and move on with your life. The pre-screeners are required to log the amount of time that they watch the films – there’s a required minimum – and it turns out that most of them do watch every single frame.

Clare says, “I’m unable to not watch the whole film.”

Dan, on the other hand, says, “If I’m not interested in 20 minutes, it won’t work with an audience.” He says he can usually tell in the first five minutes if it’s going to be worth it. If the movie gets to the 20 minute mark without becoming engaging, he may move forward in the film to see if it does get better. He adds that if the film is solicited, the whole thing should be watched regardless of the 20 minute rule. “Something may not be bad – it’s just not my thing – but it may please a bigger audience.”

That’s the ultimate key to which films get included in the festival – how likely they are to fulfill the SIFF mission of presenting the best cinema available to the audience. “We can’t always get everything we love, but we have a wide perspective of films.”

sad signs of the local economy at goodwill

photo by todd bishop via techflash [#]

This weekend, as is his custom, Todd Bishop trolled some Seattle-area thrift shoppes and turned up a trove of t-shirts especially heavy on the Microsoft. He speculates that this Goodwill glut may be indicative of the latest round of layoffs, though I suppose this could be confounded the warming weather inducing a month-end spree of spring cleaning. [techflash]

Whole Foods Bag Policy: don’t use your own in-store

We all know that Seattle is moving towards a future where far fewer plastic grocery bags end up snagged in trees or floating in local waterways, but what you might not expect is the complications the upcoming bag tax may have if it goes into effect. If everyone starts bringing their own reusable bags, stores may have a tough time separating the shoplifters from those who are just putting tomatoes in their own containers. At least, that’s the only rationale I can think of for this sign at the Roosevelt Whole Foods:

don't use your own.

While a bit ambiguous, I believe that the sign is intended to discourage only the use of one’s own bags while shopping, rather than being a blanket ban on non-Whole Foods bags. Still, the sign made me do a double-take, and there’s no doubt we’re heading for a period of behavior adjustment on everyone’s part as free disposable grocery bags become rarer.

Awkward: Typo-fixers Arraigned

Image courtesy http2007

When it comes to a battle between historic sign craftsmanship and Grammar Nazi tendencies, do we all lose? That’s the apparent lesson from a pair of twenty-something hipsters who set out on a course to fix America’s typo-addled signs, only to end up with a year’s probation for defacing (defixing?) a historic 1930s placard in Arizona. Unfortunately the Parks Service valued historical authenticity higher than the eradication of Grocer’s Apostrophes, saddling Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson with a one-year bannination from the National Park System. Wonder if Seattle’s historic hand-painted signs can rest easy now?


Seattle Theatre Group unveiled the (apparently) most controversial banner to date on Monday (May 19th) at 1:00PM on the east facing exterior of The Paramount Theatre. The banner features Lucy, star of Broadway’s Avenue Q, in all her provocative glory.
This is the first billboard that’s made me blush,” says STG Executive Director Josh LaBelle.

AVENUE Q is Broadway’s smash-hit 2004 Tony Award® winner for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. A hilarious show full of heart and hummable tunes, AVENUE Q is about trying to make it in NYC with big dreams and a tiny bank account. Called “one of the funniest shows you’re ever likely to see” by Entertainment Weekly, AVENUE Q features a cast of people and puppets who tell the story in a smart, risqué and downright entertaining way. AVENUE Q has not been authorized or approved by The Jim Henson Company or Sesame Workshop, which have no responsibility for its content.

Avenue Q

Nutcrackers on the streets again

As much as I loathe those stupid “Pigs on Parade”, you’d think that I’d hate the Nutrcrackers that take their place during the winter. Oddly enough, I’m not so bothered by the nutcrackers. I still think the whole “let’s have artists decorate these things and leave them all around town” idea has been beaten to death but the nutcrackers amuse, not annoy, me. This guy’s outside the Qwest building. nutcrackerqwest.gif

Chimps in central Washington

As reported by the Associated Press in the Kitsap Sun, a new sanctuary for chimpanzees retiring from the biomedical research or entertainment industries will be opening in Cle Elum in the spring. Seven will be moving in at the time of the opening. The chimps, currently living at a lab facility in Pennsylvania, are aged 24 to 34. Chimps, whose average life span is 35 – 50 years old, can live into their 60s, so these chimps could be settled in for quite some time.

The story doesn’t mention if visitors will be welcome. I sure hope so–I love chimps and I’d be thrilled to go see these animals relaxing in a well-deserved retirement from being poked and prodded and injected and examined. It would make a nice companion trip to a visit to Ellenburg , a mere 25 miles away, where the Central Washington University plays host to the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute.

secession in the air?

via our group photo pool [flickr], this unlikely visual mash-up:

Secede Flickr Erik98122
spotted by ___erik98122 [flickr]

just imagine the possibilities of an independent republic of Capitolhillistan.

friendly advice from the liquor store

Those of you who are hoping to have a little bit of liquor to go with your explosions would do well to shop early. A friendly-fonted warning sign alerted me that liquor stores will be closed on Wednesday for Independence Day. Along with being a nice perk for state employees seems like a decent public safety measure — who needs a crazy uncle with bottle in one hand and trunk full of fireworks in the other?

sleep – lol

This is probably the most content-free post I’ve ever made, but the trip back from Presse last night took us by a sign that made me do a double-take: Sleep 101 or Sleep lol?


Obviously the answer in either case is to stop spending so much time on the interweb.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.