Register today for DocForest 2014

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Registration for DocForest 2014 is now open! 

Held at the Kitsap Forest Theater, DocForest is our annual weekend retreat of “high-tech talk in a low tech setting”. There will be an amazing keynote speaker, informal workshops, works in progress screenings, camaraderie, bonfires, and great food — and we mean GREAT food.

This year’s theme is non-fiction digital storytelling and we are thrilled to announce that Adnaan Wasey, the Executive Producer of POV Digital, will be the keynote speaker. In his work at POV Adnaan is immersed in the myriad of ways in which non-fiction filmmakers are innovating storytelling, and he is coming all the way across the country to share his insights with us. Adnaan is passionate about helping traditional doc makers understand the tools, skills and resources required to move into creating nonfiction stories on different platforms, and he’s excited about connecting with filmmakers in our region.

The retreat will begin with Happy Hour on Friday, September 12th and ends on Sunday, September 14th at 1pm. All meals will be provided by the talented Chef Ryan Sturm. Bring a sleeping bag and stay at the bunkhouse, pitch a tent, or find a place to stay nearby at Silverdale or Bremerton (we can offer suggestions). While rustic, there are showers and bathrooms unless you are keen to try out the WWII pit toilets.

This is a not-to-miss opportunity to network, share your projects and recharge your creative juju, so register at Brown Paper Tickets today. Early bird ticket prices end August 16th.

Look for updates on the DocForest 2014 event page on Facebook.

See you at DocForest!

Full Frame Film Festival: Watching Films & Catching Up!

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A gathering of fellow documentary editors
A gathering of fellow documentary editors

by Dina Guttmann, Editor Dovetail Films 

It does seem to be film festival season, as Russ just reported from True/False and here I am reporting from Full Frame.

Two quick comments before I get going:

First, I had the honor of attending the premiere of Mike Attie and Meghan O’Hara’s “In Country”.  It was a wonderful screening!  But, I’m not going to talk about it here, because I’m hoping we’ll get the chance to all see it and celebrate together in Seattle soon.

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Made In Seattle: Homegrown Documentaries Begins Tonight!

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Rainier Valley Cultural Center
Rainier Valley Cultural Center

The Made In Seattle: Homegrown Documentaries festival is back for its second year. Curated by SeaDoc’s Rustin Thompson, the program runs Friday, April 4th & Saturday, April 5th at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center.

The locally-made program includes on Friday Finding Hillywood featured in this article posted today on, and on Saturday will screen Barzan, and Beyond Naked. Each film will be followed by a community conversation with the filmmakers moderated by Rustin Thompson, The Restless Critic. Admission to the Cinema Series is $5 per film.

True/False Film Fest: Where the Movies Matter

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The efficient Q ticket system

by Rustin Thompson (Filmmaker, White Noise Productions &     The Restless Critic)

By Saturday and Sunday of the True/False Fest I’d fallen into a comfortable pattern with the timing and layout of the event, cheerfully gliding from one theater to the next, gauging which restaurants, bars and coffee shops might be too crowded for a quick snack or drink, scheduling my viewing to be a rewarding mix of the obscure and the popular. Once again, the festival’s seamless organization made everything easy.

The weekend began with Ross Kauffman and Katy Chevigny’s  E-Team, which shadows four “first responders” for the Human Rights Watch organization as they investigate possible crimes against innocent civilians in Syria and Libya. The film is a boots-on-the-ground example of access, that key ingredient which sets a festival-worthy film apart from the pretenders. Dynamic and unflashy (in contrast to the Oscar-nominated–and superficial–Dirty Wars), E-Team is engrossing in terms of both character and subject matter, striking a delicate balance between the dangerously exotic nature of the team’s work and their distinctive personalities. Of all the high-profile documentaries at the festival (re: invited from Sundance), E-Team struck me as the most accessible, least pretentious, and structurally consistent.

The stomping monster of the fest was The Unknown Known, starring former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and the latest film from legendary director Errol Morris. Read the rest of this entry »

True/False Film Fest: Friday’s Films a Study in Curatorial Contrast

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Seattle musician Paul Rucker entertains the Columbia, MO audience before a screening.
Seattle musician Paul Rucker entertains the Columbia, MO audience before a screening.

by Rustin Thompson (Filmmaker, White Noise Productions &                         The Restless Critic)

If my first full day of viewing films at the True/False Film Fest indicated anything, it’s that this festival’s primary concern is not with advocacy or call-to-action documentaries, those earnest, agenda-centric movies that invite viewers to text or call or join the conversation. Festival co-director David Wilson told me, in a nice way, that he’s seen enough of those “glorified power point presentations,” that “new wave” of issue-driven docs inspired by the success of An Inconvenient Truth. He and co-director Paul Sturtz are in this for the “visionary films,” looking for those filmmakers who “push their work a lot harder; visually, editorially, with music and sound…who take chances and explore the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction.” They’re not opposed to more conventional or commercial work (Jodorowsky’s Dune, Private Violence, Big Men). Not at all. The festival needs to make money to survive. But their shrewd programming strategy works by introducing viewers to challenging films while also satisfying their desire to be entertained. The four pictures I saw on Friday reflected this curatorial design.

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Opening Night at the True/False Film Fest: Approaching the Elephant & Jodorowsky’s Dune

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by Rustin Thompson (Filmmaker, White Noise Productions &      The Restless Critic)

The opening night of the True/False Film Fest presented the usual dilemma of any festival kick-off: watch movies or party. Since I’m here on a press pass, I dutifully attended two films, was late for a sold-out third, consumed a few beers and glasses of wine, and introduced myself to the director of the first film I saw, Approaching the Elephant.

Director Amanda Rose Wilder opts for a patient, observational style in her depiction of an experimental New Jersey elementary school in Approaching the Elephant. Based on a model developed by educational radicals in Barcelona, this “free school” is the 262nd of its kind in the world, a system based on letting children develop individual personalities through spontaneous play and democratic problem solving. Read the rest of this entry »

True/False Film Fest: The non-fiction film lover’s fantasia

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by Rustin Thompson (Filmmaker, White Noise Productions &       The Restless Critic)

Some locals call it “CoMo” as in Columbia, MO, the county seat of Boone County, and once inhabited by mound-building Native Americans.  It is the nation’s 13th most highly educated municipality (thanks, Wikipedia), home to the University of Missouri and, during the last weekend in February, the site of the True/False Film Fest, one of the most respected non-fiction film festivals in the country.

I’ve been here less than 24 hours, but I already know Seattle film lovers would embrace Columbia’s historic downtown core. The walk-friendly grid of graceful brick buildings contain an inviting collection of bars, coffee houses, cozy restaurants, and music venues. The Ragtag Cinema, a half-block off the main drag, is a medley of all of the above, as well as a two-screen movie theater and video store. By the looks of things on this Thursday afternoon, a few hours away from the festival’s first screening, it’s a busy nexus of activity, with passholders munching croissants, Mizzou students hunched over Apples, musicians carting instruments to the backroom stage, and the festival shuttle driver stopping by every half-hour to call for passengers. The Ragtag started out in 1997 as a film society after Columbia’s last downtown movie theater closed. It was a labor of love nurtured by eventual film festival co-founders Paul Sturtz and David Wilson. The program notes say, “the Ragtag is sometimes credited with saving Columbia, but people tend to exaggerate such things.” Read the rest of this entry »