By Courtney Sheehan, Artistic Director
My top 10 films list for 2015 is over at Seattle Screen Scene. The following is a collection of the
most memorable moments that took place at Northwest Film Forum this year–in a few cases,
simultaneously! These memories will stick with me as much as the movies that inspired them.
-Kidlat Tahimik: the father of independent Philippine cinema visited with a pre-premiere
screening of the incredible 30-years-in-the-making Balikbayan #1, followed by a live
performance of torrential wit, pathos and allegorical zing. He left us with a bamboo camera
emblazoned on our wall of fame.
-International Women’s Day: in the most uniquely moving of Q&A’s, two international nursing
students from UW-Bothell talked with Lynn Shelton after a screening of her 16mm experimental
essay film, “The Clouds That Touch Us Out of Clear Skies,” a personal story of miscarriage.
-Vernae: Ethan Folk’s viscerally immersive, venue-transforming installation-dance-film-
performance injected NWFF with magical mesh clouds, sage smoke and thick soundscapes,
forever expanding the realm of possibility for live shows in our space.
-The Harvard Exits: we held a proper wake for the beloved theater, complete with a panel
discussion on the state of film exhibition in Seattle, public tributes, and an appearance by the
-The conversation after The Black Panthers: Vanguard of a Revolution with Elmer Dixon, (co-
founder of the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party) Larry Gossett, other former Panthers,
and young community organizers. The cross-generational discussion about coalition building
and the local history of struggle for equality was searing. In that moment NWFF was a true forum.
-Horrorism for Beginners, Beginners for Horrorism: Filmmakers Juan David González Monroy
and Anja Dornieden visited from Berlin with multiple projectors and 16mm films of mystically
-Videoasis: Curator Bobby McHugh and Sharlese Metcalf’s endearingly awkward outros were
the cutest conclusions to each impeccably hip batch of new PNW music videos
-New Vacation: for over a month, our windows pulsed with 10 video art installations curated by
Julia Greenaway of Interstitial Theatre. If you have an idea for how to activate the windows, do
-You’re Lookin’ at Country: Invitation to Infidelity: the concept and copy for the latest edition of
Liz Shepherd and Paul Siple’s long-running country night is too good not to quote in full:
Slide off of your satin sheets and join us for an all-you-can-cheat banquet of vintage country
music videos, followed by Country-Oke! Our salute to adultery will kick off with classic country
clips culled from 1960s, 70s and 80s film and TV performances — a time when it was scarlet A-
okay for Conway Twitty to croon truly filthy songs to family hour audiences. Also permissible?
For Loretta Lynn to demurely threaten to send a homewrecker straight to Fist City.
Expect other seminal songs to run the gamut from sob stories about heartbroken children to
tales of kinkiness so sordid and convoluted you won’t believe they can be told in a three minute
And after the show, take the stage at Northwest Film Forum’s first-ever Country-Oke night.
Down a cold brew while you’re at it. Why not make it a night of extremely guilty pleasure?
-City Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s appearance on the inaugural edition of The Seattle
Process with Brett Hamil. In defense of her favorite guilty pleasure show, Sex and the City,
Sawant declared: “Sex is not capitalistic. Good sex is very socialist.”
-Puget Soundtrack evolved into a platform for formal experimentation, evidenced by a wide
range of artistic approaches: Newaxeyes turned Alien into an experimental film on 4/20, Cock &
Swan made classy in-theater use of the disco ball for Only God Forgives, Tim Held and friends
did a damn fine Ahhhnold impression for Predator, Ahamefule Oluo re-scored Police Beat with
breathtakingly melancholic jazz, and Madeleine Cocolas remapped The Birds with synthy
cavalcades and reverb.
-Ben Gibbard curated and presented 5 of his favorite music films (including The Decline of
Western Civilization II and a 35mm screening of Urgh! A Music War).
-Actress Yana Novikova visited for the Seattle premiere of The Tribe, including a Q&A in two different sign languages as well as English. Encapsulating the divisive power of film, as the credits rolled before the Q&A, an audience member swept past and whispered at me, “what the
-Presenting Field Niggas in Seattle and finding out more about its creation through getting to
know director Khalik Allah, and eventually meeting him during the Tacoma Film Festival.
Visiting artists Bill Plympton, Jeremy Moss, Brandon Colvin, Calvin Lee Reeder, Frank Mosley,
Steve DeJarnatt, Jennifer Phang, Crispin Glover, Kelly Sears, Bruce Bickford, and so many
-Witnessing audience reactions to the In the Basement trailer
-The 16mm show of old Seattle-made films including the remarkable “Have You Seen Me?” by William Weiss
-Perhaps the only 35mm screening in Seattle ever of Karpo Godina’s brilliant ”The Gratinated
Brains of Pupilja Ferkeverk”, featured in one of the Slovenian program during a rare series of
early Yugoslav avant-garde films.
-Collaborating with Civilization on ByDesign, which included the Northwest premiere of one of
my favorite films of the year, Fresh Dressed
-The mighty local bassist contingent that turned out en masse for the new Jaco Pastorius documentary
-Steven Fried’s selection of and introduction for BOOM!