Most people may be paying attention to the changing color of the leaves, but film fans have their eyes elsewhere – on the big screen! Film festivals are abundant this fall in all four corners of the state, and Washington Filmworks is here to make sure you know when and where they all are. Additionally, we have chosen to pick three unique festivals this season to highlight: the Port Townsend Film Festival, the Seattle South Asian Film Festival, and the Seattle Latino Film Festival. These three film festivals showcase stunning lineups, exciting events, and a diversity of both films and their audiences, bringing together communities through cinematic culture and flavor.

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Port Townsend Film Festival (PTFF): September 25 – 27
Development, Marketing, Communications Director: Jan Halliday

WF: What is the mission of the Port Townsend Film Festival?
Jan: “We connect audiences with filmmakers,” seems like a simple statement. But we invite as many directors, screenwriters and film professionals as possible to our three-day festival in September. Because we’re at the end of the road (literally, at the end of a peninsula – a ferry ride and 60 miles north of Seattle) we pick up filmmakers at Sea-Tac International and drive them two hours to Port Townsend, put them up for three days, take them to the schools to meet with students, and have them here for Q&A after their screenings. They also participate in two filmmaker panels which we film, and are encouraged to mingle with audiences waiting in line. This year, over 50 are coming, most of them directors. Then in April, at our Women & Film two-day event, we invite women directors to Q&A their films. Whenever we hear of a notable filmmaker visiting Seattle, we invite them to extend their stay and screen their films on the Olympic Peninsula. Our office can also convert quickly to a 35-seat theatre for smaller gatherings.

WF: What can audiences expect this year?
Jan: Actor Beau Bridges will be here to screen and discuss The Fabulous Baker Boys.  Actor Chris Cooper will screen and discuss his Academy Award®-winning role in Adaptation. Bridges and Cooper will be on stage for “The Conversation: The Art of Acting,” moderated by Rose Theatre owner Rocky Friedman. Actress and author Marianne Leone Cooper is our formative film author here to discuss her book, “Jesse: A Mother’s Story,” about the Coopers’ son, who suffered from cerebral palsy, after the screening of My Left Foot. Director Ali Selim and produce Jim Bigham will be here to celebrate the 19th anniversary of their Indie Spirit®-Winner Sweetland. We are also screening over 80 new independent films from 16 countries.

WF: How does your festival stand apart from others?
Jan: We hold the festival in Port Townsend’s walkable, National Historic District (1880-era). It’s a six-block area with eight theatres, on the waterfront, with views of the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. We bring all filmmakers into town in a parade of classic restored cars! Festival pass holders (at the $185 level and above) are treated to a grilled salmon dinner with dessert and wine late Friday afternoon. We offer a free outdoor movie on Taylor Street with straw bale seating. We give away 1,500 free seats during the weekend at the Peter Simpson Free Cinema, a 100-seat theatre. The festival bar is in a quaint one room historic building on the city dock.

WF: How do you define success as a film festival?
Jan: When filmmakers tell us that this festival honors their work and that it reminds them of why they are making this effort, we know we’ve focused on the right aspect and succeeded in our mission. When our audiences rave about meeting filmmakers and tell us of deeper conversations (or are motivated to donate to causes brought to them by documentary filmmakers), we have succeeded. Our filmmakers leave Port Townsend feeling seen, valued, and inspired. We are able in the last few years to offer film fellowships (housing for up to 3 months) and a scholarship of lodging and festival passes for 16 students enrolled in Seattle film schools. We have no corporate funding; this festival is crowdfunded by passholders, local small business sponsors, and donors. When we can find money to award filmmakers financially or with equipment, we’ll be ecstatic.

PTFF runs from September 25-27, and you can find more information on their website.



Seattle Latino Film Festival (SLFF): October 2-11
Media Coordinator: Gisselle Pichardo

WF: For those who are unfamiliar, what is the mission of your festival and how does it impact the community?
Gisselle: Seattle Latino Film Festival (SLFF) celebrates international Latin American cinema, bringing audiences and filmmakers together to provide an array of experiences both entertaining and educational. Our mission is to support the magic of cinema as an essential component of global Ibero-American art and culture and to replace harmful stereotypes with the actuality. Stereotypes created by popular culture harm everyone because they not only shape other people’s perceptions of Latinos, they also shape Latino’s perceptions of themselves. As a result, many Latinos, unaware of their own art and culture, and denied its inspiration, become trapped by their own limiting perceptions of who they are and what they can become. Non-Latinos, also ensnared by these stereotypes, are denied access to a vast and amazing world. We show the best films from over 20 different countries, revealing the incredible richness, vitality, and diversity of this worldwide culture so the entire community, both Hispanic and non-Hispanic benefits.

WF: In terms of panels and programming, what can audiences expect this year?
Gisselle: There is something for almost everybody. Each year SLFF showcases a different Latin American country. This year the new Peruvian cinema will be in the spotlight. The festival opens at EMP on October 2nd with a red carpet premiere of the Peruvian comedy, Good Old Friends. Some films on the program will be the Columbian animation for children, Anina; a Cuban LGBT drama, His Wedding Dress; a comedy thriller, Cicada Moon, from Paraguay, In the Game, a US sports documentary; Gabo: The Creation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a documentary co-produced by Spain and Colombia; a Venezuelan black comedy, 3 Beauties; and the drama, Traces of Sandalwood (Spain and India). Other films include Stripper of Idolatries (Peru), With You Bread and Onion (Cuba), Violence (Colombia), Mirage (Costa Rica), Sand Dollars (Dominican Republic), and The Other Side of Paradise (Brazil), as well as documentaries and short films from Mexico, El Salvador, Portugal, Argentina and Uruguay.

A few of the special events planned are the premiere of Maria Montez (Dominican Republic), with both its star, Dominican actress Celinés Toribio, and the director, Vicente Peñarrocha, of Spain, in attendance. 2005 Cannes winner and Guggenheim Fellow, writer-director Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti of Cuba, will be the focus of a special program as well as being present at the Northwest premiere of his film, With You Bread and Onions. A panel discussion on Latin America Cinema, sponsored by TheFilmSchool, will feature Mexican Director Rafa Lara, Costa Rican Director Juan Gonzalez, Peruvian Director Manuel Siles, EGEDA’s Executive Director Elvira Cano, and Cuban Music Authority Rosa Marquetti. Ms. Marquetti will also lecture on the Cuban musicians featured in Fernando Trueba’s documentary, Calle 54, prior to its showing at the Jack Straw Cultural Center. The premiere of the Puerto Rican documentary, Bad Bad, at Northwest Film Forum, is the last in a series of five LGBT films to be shown during the festival. SLFF closes on October 11th with an awards ceremony honoring the films selected as Best Feature Film, Best Documentary, and Best Short, and a showing of the Mexican comedy, Jeremiah.

WF: How does your festival stand apart from others?
Gisselle: SLFF is a ten day festival that presents a full spectrum of contemporary Latin American cinema, encompassing more than twenty different counties and several different languages. One of our primary focuses is not only to make sure that all Latinos – including women, Latinos of color, and LGBT Latinos – are represented, but to make sure that they are presented as complete and genuine human beings, rather than as the stereotypical, one dimensional, illiterate, illegal immigrant, gang member, drug lord, prostitute, maid, gardener, or etc. so often portrayed in Hollywood productions. We show movies that otherwise are largely unavailable in this part of the country, whose quality clearly demonstrates that Latin American filmmakers are on the cutting edge, as both artists and entertainers.

WF: How do you define success as a festival?
Gisselle: One definition of success for SLFF is its continued growth. Each year it reaches a wider and more diverse audience, having developed from a small three day festival into a vital and internationally known ten day festival in seven short years. Success is being able to obtain some of the the best movies produced each year and making those movies available to the people of the Pacific Northwest. Success is helping great filmmakers find new audiences. Success is bringing award winning filmmakers, actors, writers, and musicians to King County. Most of all, success is opening eyes that once were closed that now can see the incredible world of Latino cinema!

SLFF runs October 2-11, and you can find more information on their website.



Seattle South Asian Film Festival (SSAFF): October 15-25
Festival Executive Director: Rita Meher; Co-Director: Alka Kurian

WF: What is the mission of the Seattle South Asian Film Festival?
Seattle South Asian Film Festival (SSAFF)’s mission is to curate thought-provoking, meaningful films and forums on South Asia and its diaspora; to engage its viewers to dialogue openly on the issues of human right and social/political/economic injustice. South Asia covers Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Our objective is to dispel some of the cultural stereotypes generated by the media about South Asia, to offer alternative representations of South Asian diaspora as a peace loving, progressive, and multi-dimensional community, and to connect real South Asian stories to the South Asian diaspora living in the Puget Sound Area.

The fact that our 3,000-strong community follows our events each year with massive enthusiasm, with which it participates in post-film Q&As and other film forums, is a testament to the success that we have had in realizing our mission. However, it is not only the South Asian community that we believe benefits from our events. Often times, the issues depicted in our films are relevant here in the United States or in other parts of the world. The festival has also inspired many local South Asians to pick up a camera and make a film, that they had dream of making. More and more local artists come forward and participate.

Tasveer’s main focus is on community engagement and bringing awareness about social issues that are current in South Asia, through films, art and conversations. Since 2002, Tasveer has conducted over 500 screenings and events. Our events offer a tangible platform to underrepresented South Asians, to discuss the issues relevant to them, to engage with each other and with the society that we live in. This is where you will see the South Asian community coming together and discussing an issue, be it women’s issues, LGBT topic, or child education, or culture – we discuss it all. We meet, we talk, we eat chai-samosa (instead of popcorn) and we have fun!

WF: What can audiences expect this year?
Rita: Spread over five cities – Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond, Bothell, and Renton – SSAFF 2015 is screening 59 films (feature and shorts) around the theme of “coming home.” While we are bringing films from all over South Asia, the central focus of this year’s festival is Sri Lanka, which we highlight through screening a total of ten films including a retrospective of Prasanna Withanage’s cinema as we showcase his anti-war trilogy. The audience will have the opportunity to meet with over 25 filmmakers, attend post-film Q&As and panels, and join us in our celebrations through galas, receptions, food, music, and an end of the festival award ceremony.:

SSAFF 2015 is organizing a symposium on “Human Rights and the Politics of Filmmaking in South Asia,” with the view to discuss the following: what has changed over the past ten years and what kind of challenges persist as filmmakers document, often risking their lives, the region’s disregard towards its abysmal state of human rights records, which gets exacerbated by the region’s asymmetrical development. It aims provide a common platform to filmmakers, scholars, and members of the community to together explore how cinema interacts with the modern human rights movement, and the ways in which it can be used as a tool for resisting against human rights violations. 

SSAFF 2015 is also organizing a panel on The Art of Storytelling that will provide a focus on the politics and practice of story telling by filmmakers as they engage with challenging issues in South Asia.

WF: How does your festival stand apart from others?
SSAFF distinguishes itself from the rest of the festivals in two ways. One, it is the biggest South Asian film festival in the US. Second, It is the only festival that is truly diverse in its representation of South Asia. As festival organizers we make sure to celebrate films from all South Asian countries whether big or small, rather than only promoting films that produced by prominent mainstream filmmaking industries in the region. Other South Asian film festival focuses mostly on India.

WF: How do you define success as a festival?
Rita: We define sucess by screening a wide a variety of films from all over South Asia; keeping true to the festival’s mission of bringing thought provoking and socially responsible cinema that represents a variety of themes around which we engage members of our community whether it is to do with race, sexuality, religion, or politics; offering a safe space for the audience to have a conversation on topics that push the boundaries and by not being afraid to do so; and creating a meaningful dialogue among filmmakers, audience, scholars, and members of the community. We are also known as the friendliest South Asian Film Festival in the country as filmmakers define us.

SSAFF runs from October 15-25, and you can find more information on their website.

These three festivals are not the only film gatherings going on this fall. Here is a list of other fun fall film festivals!

Irish Reels Film Festival, September 25-27
Ellensburg Film Festival, October 2-4
Post Alley Film Festival, October 3
Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, October 8-18
Tacoma Film Festival, October 8-15
Orcas Island Film Festival, October 9-12
Seattle Polish Film Festival, October 9-18
Seattle Social Justice Film Festival, October 16-17
Gig Harbor Film Festival, October 16-18
Renton Film Frenzy, October 17
Tri-Cities International Fantastic Film Festival, October 16-18
Celluloid Bainbridge Film Festival, October 24-25
Friday Harbor Film Festival, November 6-8
Olympia Film Festival, November 6-15
Wild & Scenic Film Festival, November 14
Seattle Shorts Film Festival, November 14-15