If you haven’t been to the Spokane International Film Festival (SpIFF) you’re in for a real treat. The festival is a selective offering of world-class films. SpIFF celebrates the launch of its 16th Annual Festival tonight and runs through February 1.
Audiences get access to some of very best international features, documentaries, and shorts made in the past two years. Most of these screenings are an exclusive opportunity, as many of the films have not yet been commercially released for wide distribution. These same films screen at the Cannes, New York, or Toronto film festivals, and SpIFF programmers travel widely to hand pick them for Spokane audiences.
Pete Porter leads courses in film history, theory, and criticism at Eastern Washington University and is a programmer for SpIFF. He has served as Director of the festival for the last 5 years and is proud of the way that the event is expanding. Last year SpIFF hosted more than 2,500 guests and festival organizers expect to break that record in 2014.
The festival spreads across 4 Spokane venues and this year festivalgoers can catch 3 Academy Award nominees in the line-up, The Broken Circle Breakdown, The Missing Picture, and the animated short Mister Hublot. SpIFF will also host the US Premiere of The Empty Hours (Las Horas Muertas), a Spanish language film from Mexico.
Porter reveals that programmers have made a strong effort to include more Washington films, especially those helmed by filmmakers from Spokane. Audiences can take in 10 feature films, 10 documentaries, and more than 30 shorts. “About a third of those come from the Pacific Northwest, including 5 features,” says Porter. “It’s a pleasant surprise. There are many strong documentaries from Washington.”
Films helmed by Washington filmmakers, or shot in state include Find Your Way, K2, Evergreen, Minor Differences, and Bible Quiz. A major attraction of SpIFF is the access to filmmakers. These guests answer questions from audiences and share tales from production. Most of the local films are billed to have a filmmaker in attendance.
The fest also offers after-film receptions, which are open to the public, and special panels. This year SpIFF is programming new forms of storytelling by including episodes of the Spokane-based web series Transolar Galacatica. Series creator Adam Harum and producer Adam Boyd are scheduled to be in attendance to answer questions about the project at one of two Filmmaker Forums.
A large and exciting variety of work awaits seasoned guests and new attendees alike. There’s even a Best of the Northwest Program including submissions from around the area and some of the very best shorts from the ReelSpokane series and Spokane’s 50 Hour Slam filmmaking competition. “I think we have a very, very strong line-up,” boasts Porter, who is especially looking forward to sharing the Opening Night Film The Rocket and Closing Night Film Matterhorn with SpIFF audiences.
Get your tickets and find the full 2014 Festival Program here.