Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

I've attended the last three years' One Reel Film Festivals, and this was the first that didn't prove completely underwhelming. (Maybe that's because I only attended three programs aside from the Monday night Best of the Fest culmination.) There was some really good stuff on hand, but I'm still not sure attending the biggest short-cinema festival in the land is worth contending with the long-ass lines (yes, even in the new bigger digs at the Bagley Wright), talkative and extra-fidgety audiences, or highly unfavorable crap-to-gem ratio.

I so looked forward to the Fly Films program (six of the ten 5-minute Seattle-themed films made in 5 days by local filmmakers and screened at SIFF), but only really liked Seattle Schools: Giving Kids Room to Grow, Lynn Shelton's fascinating little piece about alternative education practices at the Hilltop Children's Center and the Puget Sound Community School.

Then there was the Best of the Damah Film Festival, a well-packaged package of five spirituality-seeking shorts. Standout was Vita Lusty's (I swear that's her name) Bybee, a harrowing little tale of a girl's obsessive relationship and the mysteriously brutal physical toll it takes.

Voyeur Schism was a cool program of films about seeing situations and events from varying points of view. The audience loved Wes Kim's funny silent flick Why It's a Good Thing (pitting Asian-Americans against ignorant white folks who assume that they as a race all know martial arts); I was partial to Lindsay Daniels' murky and beautiful eye-surgery chronicle All That I Perceive.

The 14-film Best of the Fest package included excellent live action (Vince Di Meglio's El Elegante, Paul Cotter's Jeff Farnsworth, Vance Malone's Ocularist) and lovely animation (Aristomenis Tsirbas' Terra, Serguei Bassine's From the 104th Floor, Nirvan Mullick's The Box Man).

Other notable Bumbershoot 2003 moments:

  • Mother Zosima on the Busker Stage. Activist guitar-playin' nun (and Camryn Manheim lookalike) who spewed a scathing police-accountability diatribe after a rousing rendition of "Glory Glory Hallelujah". Crazy shit.
  • The Spoon Guy (from the most recent Carlotta's Late Night Wing Ding Liz and I attended) doing an impromptu performance near that weird little wading pool outside the Ink Spot.
  • The Jessica Lurie Ensemble at the Northwest Court Lounge. Sultry, funky jazz, with a wonderful frontwoman who sounded like an older Fiona Apple but rocked (err… jazzed) nonetheless.
  • The Shins, Comcast® Mainstage. I only caught a few songs, but what I saw of their performance was fucking amazing. To everyone who's tried to make me understand how great they are: So sorry I didn't listen.
  • Kim Richey. Pure enchantment. Full review here.
  • The von Trapp-like Overman Family Musicians, a hetero couple and their eight (!) string-playin' kids (ages 3 to 21).
  • Nickel Creek. These young bluegrassers are a Union Station for the Clay Aiken set. Their crowd-rousing Mainstage show featured loads of new material, and plenty of familiar stuff from This Side and their 2000 self-titled debut. Talented kids whose musicianship could challenge that of Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski any day. Read igChar's Nickel Creek review for more info.
  • Sneaking out Monday for a late luncheon at the Bamboo Garden. OK, it really has nothing to do with Bumbershoot, but holy fuck, I was through with that crowd! So I got my wrist stamped with that weird special ink and trotted over a few blocks to Roy Street for some of the finest vegan pan-Asian food in town. It was just the breather I needed.