This Friday marks the beginning of the 2020 Local Sightings Film Festival at Northwest Film Forum. The fest, which will run online thru September 27, highlights films and filmmakers from all over the Pacific Northwest. For the most part, all films will be available on demand, so you will be able to tune in whenever you want. Individual screening tickets grant access to Viewing Parties and Q&A Sessions.
The spread this year is diverse. CHS Blog spotlighted Danny Denial's CONDiTiONER, Willamette Week dug into Roland Dahwen's Borrufa, and the Tacoma News Tribune highlighted Tacoma filmmakers. For the Stranger's Local Sightings roundup, we decided to focus specifically on the fest's can't-miss documentaries. Check them out below:
Seattle, WA, six films of varying lengths, exec. prod. by Cynthia Brothers & Martin Tran
This documentary series previously self-released shorts on Wa Na Wari in the Central District and Hardwick's Hardware in the U District, but this installment expands to four other locations: Scandinavian Specialties in Ballard, the Four Seas/Dynasty Room and Bush Garden in the C-ID, and the Capitol Hill Arts District. Separately, the stories embody the souls of their neighborhoods, but, taken as a whole, they paint a portrait of a city in danger of losing its rich past.
The Vanishing Seattle Series opens the festival, and it will stream live on Facebook, Vimeo, and the NWFF site tomorrow at 7 p.m., followed by a post-screening Q&A at 8 p.m. with Cynthia Brothers of Vanishing Seattle, Inye Wokoma of Wa Na Wari, Bjørn Ruud of Scandinavian Specialties, and karaoke legend Karen Akada Sakata of Bush Garden. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Vancouver, Canada, 115 min, dir. Ying Wang
The director and her team are deeply trusted by their subjects, earning confessions and revelations that feel impossibly intimate. The promo copy for this one indicated that Ying Wang's doc had "the patience and insight of a master filmmaker," which I initially thought was a little grand. After watching, I fully agree. There are so many ways this story could have fumbled. But each turn resolves, yes, masterfully. It's not an easy watch, but I found it cathartic, a testament to how a parent's love for a child can cross seas and shake countries. Highly recommended. CHASE BURNS
Sammamish, WA, 54 minutes, dir. Nils R. Cowan
Spawning Ground follows over the course of a few years three very different people who fight for the kokanee's survival, weaving together a compelling story about the ecologically and culturally important species of fish. It's a good, quick watch. It should be noted, that today the Recreation and Conservation Office announced that they would be giving $18 million to salmon recovery projects across the state—including almost $400,000 to improving habitats in Issaquah Creek, which the kokanee salmon also use. Maybe there's some hope for this little red fish after all! JASMYNE KEIMIG
Marion County, OR, 97 min, dir. Brandon Wilson
It was strange to watch this huddled up inside my home, avoiding the smoke from fires burning in this same part of the world. Most of the film is abstracted, alternating between black-and-white and colorful psychedelia. What feels like bleak horror pivots to a drug trip, and back again. (Horror and psychedelia are a forest's two genders.) Don't adventure into this doc expecting a narrative. Just sit there and contemplate the deepness of the woods. Then look up at the sky outside your home. You see those particles in the air? You feel them in your throat? What you're watching crawl around in this film is what you're breathing in your lungs. That's life, baby. CHASE BURNS
Check out the full line-up of features, shorts, and events here.