Film Made Me Do It: Northwest Film Center presents a festival of Northwest filmmakers
The Northwest hasn’t exactly been known as a breeding ground for film. Yet, like anywhere in the United States, many people here are enchanted with the idea of moviemaking and more than a few act on the impulse to make their own movie. The Northwest Film Center facilitates this creative urge – giving tools, instruction and support to the artistic endeavors of local artists. It seems only fitting, then, that the center hosts a festival dedicated to film and video production in the Northwest. Taking place the week of Nov. 10 ?” 18, the festival will present a varied crop of both short and feature-length films. Some are more meditative and personal in nature, but a great many of the films deal with real-world human struggles through the documentary lens.
Walking to Werner
At first glance, Walking to Werner doesn’t seem very promising. For his first feature-length film, director Linas Phillips decided to make a documentary about himself – or more specifically about his decision to walk 1,200 miles from Seattle to Los Angeles. Phillips is inspired to do this by Werner Herzog, who once famously decided to walk from Munich to Paris to see a dying friend. Phillips wants to meet Herzog and illogically concludes that the best way to do that would be to walk from his home in Seattle to Herzog’s in Los Angeles.
What makes Walking to Werner a success isn’t the overarching idea or the annoying main character, but the people Phillips encounters along the way. It seems walking a great distance leads you to meet some truly tragic figures. Phillips is not alone in finding solace in walking long distances. One man walked from California to Oregon with the intent of killing himself. Another had been walking 13 years since an armed robber had murdered his entire family.
These people have tragic reasons for walking their distances, and through meeting them, Phillips begins to understand and appreciate his journey to a greater degree. What once was just a clever idea for a film becomes something more – proving the cliche “life is about the journey, not the end result” true. And that is what makes Walking to Werner a worthwhile endeavor – it isn’t just about one silly man from Seattle, but the broader sense of the meaning of life.
The aftermath of war is necessarily something that is ignored while the war is being waged. That ignored aftermath is what Bombhuntersis about. During the Vietnam War, “low-risk” strategies were implemented in fighting an enemy that was hard to nail down. Carpet-bombing Cambodia seemed like the best way to stop the supply train that fed the fighters in Vietnam. What was left over, besides the numerous civilian casualties at the time, was a large amount of unexploded ordinance and a population that to this day remains incredibly poor.
Together these factors create the subject of this documentary – people who dismantle live bombs for the pennies that the scrap-metal will provide. Bombhunterssucceeds in that it builds suspense. Real lives are at stake. Viewers are constantly thinking to themselves, “Oh shit, that guy is pounding on a bomb with a rock.” Thankfully there are no gruesome scenes of a bomb exploding while being worked on, but the aftermaths of explosions are shown. When untrained hands mess around with large amounts of explosives, people get hurt.
That is the legacy that war has left on Cambodia – not just a history of death but also the continued presence of deadly American explosives. In the end, Bombhuntersis a horrible look at the convergence of war and poverty, but is a story one that many have told before.
The Grindhouse Film Festival (Nov. 4 and 5 at the Hollywood Theatre)
Grindhouse film is disgusting. It is full of violence, bad acting and generally has a bad attitude. It is also one of the most entertaining genres of film. What makes it “bad” in the traditional sense of film criticism is what makes it fun to watch. Chances are that if you like horror, kung fu or exploitation movies there will something that you find enjoyable at this weekend’s fest.
They Call Her One Eye (Sunday at 9 p.m.)
Sawed-off shotguns are badass. They’re used a lot in grindhouse cinema for the purpose of vigilante justice. Pam Grier used one in Coffyand the main character uses one to enact revenge in They Call Her One Eye. This film tells the story of a prostitute who is used and abused by her pimp and decides to take revenge. Like all great exploitation movies, this film promises plenty of gory bloodshed and ’70s attitude. Plus, the main character has one eye, so she’s almost a pirate, which is really fucking sweet!
Demons (Sunday at 7 p.m.)
Zombie movies – you either love them or hate them. Something about the living undead just excites and thrills some people and if you’re one of them, Demonsis a film for you. The film is about a zombie outbreak in a movie theater (the zombies are the demons) and while not breaking any new ground at all, Demons should still be enjoyable and fun.
Other films playing as part of the festival:
Manic (Saturday at 7 p.m.)
Don’t Go Into the House (Saturday at 9 p.m.)
Shaw Brother’s Old School Kung-fu Ass Kick-a-thon (Saturday at 11 p.m.)
Sonny Chiba’s Dragon Princess (Sunday at 5 p.m.)