Festival Frenzy

It's not quite spring, and already the film-festival season is kicking off all fast and furious. Next week there's the Seattle Jewish Film Festival, but before that there are TWO festivals to deal with this week. First I want to talk about the Irish Reels Film Festival, now in its seventh year. Even though I don't have a drop of Irish blood in me, I can totally support their tribute to Neil Jordan. The festival begins on Thursday, March 4, at the Harvard Exit with Intermission, produced by Neil Jordan and starring a handful of recognizable Irish faces, including Colin Farrell.

Saturday, the tribute is concentrated at the Seattle Art Museum, with screenings of The Company of Wolves, Mona Lisa, and The Crying Game, followed by a discussion about Jordan between festival director Fidelma McGinn and the always-informative Kathleen Murphy, and hosted by the ever-present Warren Etheredge. Of course, there's plenty more Irish fun to be had at the festival. Go to www.irishreels.org for the full schedule.

Meanwhile, the "Reel" Cinerama Film Festival is now in its second year, and it also begins on Thursday, March 4. A celebration of wide-screen films on this city's widest screen, the Cinerama (of course), the festival starts Thursday morning with a screening of the acclaimed documentary Cinerama Adventure, followed by the three-projector film This Is Cinerama. Later in the festival, they'll be showing another three-strip Cinerama film, How the West Was Won.

The official opening-night film is the 70mm It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. The 70mm format was created as a more practical method of filling wide screens, and there are a variety of 70mm movies being presented, from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Ghostbusters to Krull. In fact, the Monday evening showing of the Mars-based movie Total Recall will be presented by Donna Shirley, ex-NASA engineer and future director of Paul Allen's Experience Science Fiction Museum.

Programs of short films play like mini-festivals, and the city is hosting a couple of short-film packages this week. Another choice plan for Thursday, March 4, would be to head over to the Rendezvous for the first of three nights devoted to classic old films. The first night is classics of the silent era, from Chaplin to Porter to Méliès, the second night is devoted to cartoons from the 1930s, and the third is all early examples of fantasy films.

MEET THE FILMMAKERS: The people behind the upcoming feature film production Urban Scarecrow are having a benefit concert at the Hideaway (formerly Sit 'n' Spin) on Saturday, March 6, with a bunch of female singers performing all night long. Meanwhile, at Consolidated Works this weekend, the directors of A Certain Kind of Death, Grover Babcock and Blue Hadaegh, will be present at all three screenings of their documentary.

andy@thestranger.com

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