Twenty-Five Days @ Seattle International Film Festival 2007

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Masa, one of the three DJs on KEXP’s Expansions, attends as many movies during the Seattle International Film Festival as humanly possible each year, and he likes to write about them. While the festival ended last month, many of these movies are now circulating theaters or are still awaiting theatrical release. Masa wrote a four-part guide to the movies he viewed, and when possible related them to our KEXP’s programming. Enjoy.

Part 1: Music and Film

This year I decided to take my vacation at the Seattle International Film Festival.

I’ve watched many films at SIFF for many years now but this time I decided to go see films every day. So I did manage to see 91 movies in 25 days. I heard about a man who quit his job in order to attend SIFF every day and a man with full time job, who also worked at SIFF, and watched over 100 films. They are great film buffs! Compared to them, I am an amateur.

My first music film experience was Led Zeppelin Live the one in which Page plays the theremin. But much earlier I saw Elvis Live in Hawaii 1973 on TV. Since then I saw many music film (and live shows as well). I like music documentary film with interviews from musicians self, as well as fellow musicians, families, friends, and live footages. I managed to see many at SIFF 2007. My favorite was Scott Walker: 30 Century Man and Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten. The Walker film gave me many revelations since I had not paid much attention other than to his solo music, and then mostly to his first solo album only. The Strummer film was well put together and enjoyable, even if you have seen many other films of The Clash already.

siff_2.jpg Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten by Julien Temple (2007 England)
Recommended for all who listen to KEXP & Sonic Reducer.

This is perhaps the most completed and satisfied documentary film of Joe Strummer (the legendary Clash front man) I’ve seen so far. It contains a lot of live footage of both Strummer solo and The Clash, as well as interesting stories & comments from friends, family and himself. I enjoyed all 123 min of Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten.

info @ Official Film Website
info @ SIFF Website

siff_3.jpg This Is England by Shane Meadows (2006 England)
Recommended for all who listen to KEXP & Sonic Reducer.

Northern England, summer of 1983. A story of fatherless 12 years old boy Shaun who finds a surrogate family of skinheads. Life doesn’t look too bad for Shaun and his gangs until an older racist skinhead who just got out of prison joins them. Things soon go out of control.

info @ Official Film Website
info @ SIFF Website

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Opera Jawa by Garin Nugroho (2006 Indonesia)
Recommended for all who listen to KEXP, Wo’ Pop, Jazz Theater & Expansions.

Far out epic musical “cinema requiem,” dedicated for the victims of Indonesia’s recent natural disasters and all victims of oppression. Nugroho combines traditional and new in dance, spirituality and reality in story, retro and modern in music by Rahayu Supanggah. I caught bits and pieces of interesting gamelan music, which I hadn’t heard yet but somehow knew it existed. Opera Jawa may push many viewers’ limits as it did to the group of high school students but I have to give them a credit completing the film even they probably didn’t have any choice. Otherwise you just relax and enjoy the trip.

Music: Rahayu Supanggah
info @ Official Film Website
info @ SIFF Website

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War/Dance by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine (2007 USA)
Recommended for all who listen to KEXP, Best Ambiance, Wo’ Pop & Jazz Theater

Somehow the School of Rock (2003) came into my head when I saw this. Except this is in refugee camp in remote northern Uganda. The children in camp, survivor of civil war, these young musicians practice singing and dancing everyday at the school. This is exciting documentary film about the children preparations for a nationwide music festival.

info @ Official Film Website
info @ SIFF Website

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Blood on the Flat Track: The Rise of the Rat City Rollergirls by Lainy Bagwell, Lacey Leavitt (2007 USA)
Recommended for all who listen to KEXP, Audioasis & Sonic Reducer.

I grew up watching Roller Games and played it with friends after school every day until I found Dog Town. In this documentary the Rat City Rollergirls (based in Seattle) talk about the sport and life style they live in. The girls are tough and not afraid of taking a painful hit. Watching this movie made me very happy. Why? Because Rat City Rollergirls Rule!

info @ Official Film Website
info @ SIFF Website

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Sanctuary: Lisa Gerrard by Clive Collier (2006 United Kingdom)
Recommended for all who listen to KEXP.

I saw Dead Can Dance live at the Moore Theatre in 1993. The show was sold out show and it was a very fulfilling evening with amazing sound of performance. For some reason I stopped listening to DCD after the album AION (1990). I had no idea Lisa Gerrard (one half of Dead Can Dance) was working with such high profile film. Somehow I managed not to see either Gladiator, The Insider, or Whale Rider. Here, the live footage still gives me a chill in my spine. She is truly a unique vocalist and musician.

info @ Official Film Website
info @ SIFF Website

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Scott Walker: 30 Century Man by Stephen Kijak (2006 United Kingdom)
Recommended for all who listen to KEXP.

I found the answer to the question I had since I first listened to his album Tilt (1995). He hasn’t lost his mind at all, I think he is more focused and clear about his music and his purpose in his life. Knowing that next time (sometime between now and 2008) when I listen to Tilt again, it may sounds different than past 11 times, about once a year I tried to listened to that album but it never clicked with me. Included here are rare words by Scott Walker himself and interviews with devoted fans David Bowie, Jarvis Cocker, Brian Eno, Radiohead, and more obvious ones like Gavin Friday & Bono.

info @ Official Film Website
info @ SIFF Website

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One11 and 103: John Cage by Henning Lohner (1992 USA)
Recommended for all who listen to Jazz Theater, Sonarchy Radio.

One11 and 103 is a 94-minute black-and-white experimental film with Cage’s musical compositions. A simple concept of light & shadow on the wall, what you see & what you don’t. It’s abstract, meditational, and ambient landscape. To me it was more of film as furniture. Before the film director Henning Lohner gave us the instruction apparently it was giving by John Cage himself director. “You are allowed to fall a sleep, Cage thinks good movie/music should make people fall a sleep. You should watch it as much as you like and people are free to leave the room and return anytime and as much needed.” I took a nice short nap, watched more, then left after halfway into the film. I felt great.

John Cage at Wikipedia
info @ SIFF Website

Here’s a performance of his infamous “4:33″:

Yet another Expansions Extra by

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