A lot of people have forwarded this article to me that ran in the Seattle Times a couple days ago about blog postings regarding SIFF’s opening night screening of Battle in Seattle and the ensuing afterparty. I’m not 100% sure what kind of reaction that they are hoping for. It honestly doesn’t make me happy when people are pissed off at SIFF. Of course I think its silly to charge people $50 - $200 for admission to a movie, and I think that Battle in Seattle is an opening night choice that lends itself to easy criticism. But who is really at fault here? I think that for the most part, there are just some people who want to donate to an arts organization and there are a lot worse places to spend your money. I’m happy that there are people out there supporting the arts.
Sure there are probably people who looked at that $200 as a way to tell their friends at the watercooler on Monday that there were partying with celebrities. It’s tough to feel sorry for those people if they didn’t like the movie and want to complain afterward. The crappiest part is that SIFF didn’t tell anyone that it was going to be a cash bar. I know some people probably did an analysis and figured they’d drink at least fifty bucks worth of alcohol anyway and maybe didn’t bring their wallet to the screening. Sucks for those people, but its not like I can gloat about all of the free booze they would have gotten at STIFF because our bars are all cash bars too (The only difference is that for $50 bucks, a person could get an All-Access Badge that would let them into every STIFF show, including Moby, for the entire duration of the festival).
Like I said, it doesn’t make me happy when people are mad at SIFF. I’m not in any kind of hurry to see the end of SIFF. Sure it pisses me off when things happen like the recent Bookie fiasco, and I wish more people were interested in some of the real indie stuff that was going on locally than they were in hanging out at a party with celebrities, but I can’t fault SIFF for trying to capitalize on that market (there were obviously plenty of people who didn’t mind shelling out the money for the tickets).
And it’s not like SIFF only shows movies like Battle in Seattle. I have been exposed to some incredible movies that I never would have heard of if it wasn’t for SIFF. They are showing some really good local stuff this year too. Aside from Bao Tran’s Bookie, I’ve heard great things about Deidre Timmons’ A Wink and a Smile.
Deidre was the Director of last years 2nd place winning Weekend Film Challenge Film, Rotten to the Core. She has some serious talent and I couldn’t be happier for her. I also read recently that Joe Shapiro and Andy McCone were participating in this year’s Fly Filmmaking Challenge.
Andy was responsible for one of the most fun shooting assignments I have ever had and those guys have been a part of STIFF from the very beginning. It has been a lot of fun to watch them hone their skills to perfection. I’m really glad to see SIFF taking notice of how talented they are.
I am always reminded of one fact though, the NIT used to be THE post-season basketball tournament that every team wanted to get into. Now, teams are disappointed if they get selected for the NIT. This only means that things can always change. But, being the biggest film festival in town isn’t the end goal for us. If our existence can serve no other purpose than to be a sandbox for local filmmakers to hone their skills and help remind SIFF to shine their light on local talent, then I will be content with this endeavor, forever. If I can also come across some weird films to share with people, then I am in seventh heaven. If Seattle can become a town where audiences care more about the really cool local stuff going on than finding out what color toenail polish Michelle Rodriguez wears, whether they end up finding it at SIFF or STIFF doesn’t make as much difference to me as whether or not it happens. If we can play a small part in that transition, that is all I need.