Visiting Filmmakers

Last month's Satellites: Screens from Outer Spaces was a showcase highlighting our city's increasingly vibrant underground film and video culture. The programming this year was extremely strong, even if that fact wasn't necessarily reflected in attendance. One big reason nobody knows how big and important some of these small-scale events are is that nobody is writing about them. Until now. That's why I pitched this column.

These events are hard to write about as much as they are easy to ignore, seeing as they don't run a full week, rarely have press screenings, and aren't supported by big ads. Recent highlights included some high-profile visiting filmmakers. Omar Willey and the Puget Sound Cinema Society brought to town Bruce Baillie, one of the founding fathers of the San Francisco experimental film community, then brought Philadelphian Peter Rose, with his playful visual and audio language explorations/machinations. Over at Consolidated Works, I brought Zappa collaborator and amazingly obsessive (read: talented) animator Bruce Bickford in to show off some of his movies and sculptures.

There were other excellent filmmakers and entertaining events at Satellites--but they were presented by local and active folks, so I expect to cover them in future columns. Instead, I want to tell you about another visiting filmmaker who's coming to the Little Theatre (Fri-Sun May 16-18). You know Jeff Krulik as the guy who made Heavy Metal Parking Lot, the classic short film that captures tailgating before a 1986 Judas Priest concert (and became a bootleg favorite in the '90s). His latest is Hitler's Hat, an engaging look at a bunch of WWII veterans; the film centers on Hitler's top hat, which was taken by one soldier from the dictator's Munich apartment the day before Hitler committed suicide.

The screenings are going to be different every night; each 7 pm show will be anchored by HMPL, and each 9 pm show will be anchored by Hitler's Hat. Krulik told me he's bringing a suitcase full of older work, so each screening will be augmented by things like Harry Potter Parking Lot, I Created Lancelot Link, Obsessed with Jews, or excerpts from Ernest Borgnine on the Bus, which was pitched as a reality show years before Ozzy made it fashionable. There will be a parking-lot reception for Krulik on Friday, and after the Saturday-night show you might want to come with us to a warehouse wrestling event in West Seattle.

Speaking of documentaries, there's a bunch playing in town this week. Nancy Kates is in town with her film Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin (Fri May 16 at Seattle Art Museum), the Sundance favorite exploring the complex life of the gay civil-rights activist. Elsewhere, rockaraoke is explored in Rockaraoke: The More You Drink, the Better You Sound (Wed May 19 at the Sunset); science and government cover-ups are explored in Sex, Salmon, Secrecy (Fri May 16 at 911 Media Arts); and Nigerian world music is explored in Femi Kuti: What's Going On (Wed May 21 at EMP).