Though best known as an editor, Lynn Shelton has also been directing what she calls "experimental documentaries" for 10 years now. Her most recent work, Summer, represents her first foray into directing actors, while prior pieces focused on more abstract treatments of humanity. Particularly notable is Shelton's 30-minute short, The Clouds That Touch Us Out of Clear Skies, in which poetic images discursively--but unmistakably--accompany first-person stories about the unique tragedy of miscarried pregnancy. The film is powerful and frank, but also full of grace--its empathy never stoops to pity. As for her work as an editor--a field no less deserving of a Genius grant than that of director--Shelton's skills and generosity have helped shepherd a host of filmmakers through the process of discovering their own talents. Paul Willis, who has collaborated with Shelton on an experimental reading of Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, and a documentary about a Hank Williams cover band, characterizes her as "very honest when she needs to be. And always willing to fight it out if need be. Not necessarily because she believes her way is the right way but sometimes just because she realizes that the fight will lead to a more succinct and potent articulation of what the director is looking for." SEAN NELSON


The Grand Illusion, an adorable jewelbox cinema in the University District, used to be the repertory, revival, and late-night arm of the Northwest Film Forum. When NWFF recently hightailed it to posh new 12th Avenue digs, NWFF sold its U-District mini-theater to Guerren Marter and a few other former NWFF volunteers. The now-rival organizations are finally screening head-to-head, and on pure programming terms--however improbably--David is besting Goliath. NWFF programming is ambitious and schizoid (the next week alone at NWFF brings a messy scattering of political documentaries, two music documentaries, a biopic about Howard Zinn, and the launch of a series on "media archeology"), while over at Grand Illusion, Guerren Marter is presenting the local premiere of Tsai Ming-liang's gorgeous and haunting Goodbye, Dragon Inn. It's getting a proper, weeklong run, just as Thai director Pen-ek Ratanaruang's excellent Last Life in the Universe did last week, and as Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-hsien's Millennium Mambo did last spring. Marter is making smart choices, and he's keeping his cinema focused. Keep your eye trained on the Grand Illusion. ANNIE WAGNER


Jon Behrens makes experimental films; he is also a curator of avant-garde and rare/bizarre films, which he screens during the summer at Linda's Tavern. One reason he is worthy of note is the sheer amount of time he has spent on making difficult films that are respected by critics but often not seen by the public. Even back in 1989, when I first meet Behrens, he was making and dreaming about films. The art form has been as important to his state of being as the blood pulsing through his veins. But it has been as a curator or programmer of film festivals that Behrens has enjoyed public attention. He was a programmer for the now-defunct Seattle Underground Film Festival (which was not SIFF but SUFF, a festival that screened films that were "undependent"), and he is presently the curator for Linda's Summer Movies--a series that's nearly a decade old and consistently draws a crowd to Linda's open back porch. Gappa the Triphibian Monster, Man with a Movie Camera, and Fireball 500 are some of the many films that Behrens has brought back to life on the white screen beneath the stars and the moon. CHARLES MUDEDE


Look up Billy McMillan's name on the Internet Movie Database (, and all you find is a random "miscellaneous crew" credit (best boy grip) on a movie you've never heard of (Lovers Lane). The graphic that goes along with McMillan's entry is the generic, black-on-gray silhouette that accompanies the entries of all the innumerable miscellaneous crew folk whose names crawl unread through the end credits of every movie you've ever seen. "Click here to add photo," it says, though it's doubtful that anyone ever will. But people like McMillan and his anonymous forebears are the reason films get made--especially films made on low budgets by inexperienced directors in small towns like this one. A graduate of the Seattle Film Institute, McMillan has worked on countless local shorts and features as everything from an assistant camera operator to the lowliest grip; his is the art of knowing how to do the tricky technical work that always needs to be done on a film set, and then doing it, often without needing to be asked. We've included him here because of his selfless contributions to the craft of independent film as an all-too-often underpaid crewmember. Naturally, he also directs. SEAN NELSON