It’s festival season here in Seattle and the excitement is starting up in full swing with STIFF, which runs from May 1-9 in the University District. Formed in 2001 as a counterpoint to the Seattle International Film Festival, STIFF re-brands itself this year as the Seattle Transmedia and Independent Film Festival. The fest is dedicated to films with minimal budgets, often focusing on films with underground and experimental themes. The slate of choices at this year’s festival are an eclectic bunch, ranging from delightfully goofy and inspiring to unabashedly amateur and gleefully haphazard.
Here’s some highlights:
Bristel Goodman, dir. Dan Harnden
According to the film’s synopsis, Bristel Goodman is a trans-media production that “began as a viral video, exists as an alternate reality game, and has emerged as a feature film.” Or in other words, it’s a thriller about a man who falls in love with a girl over the web, only for her to disappear in front on him during a video chat. And apparently psychic abilities are involved somehow? What any of this has to do with alternate reality, I don’t know, but the trailer seems to promise a fairly standard and predictable experience. Hopefully there’s at least some fun to be had here, just likely not in a way the filmmakers had intended.
Opening Night Event, Grand Illusion Cinema (1403 NE 50th St.), Friday, May 1st, 6 PM, $12
Aspie Seeks Love, dir. Julie Sokolow
“This is my coconut menagerie…I got this one in 1995, the day before the O.J. Simpson trial.” So explains David Matthews, a delightfully sweet and quirky artist living with Asperger’s syndrome. Sokolow’s film follows Matthews as he attempts to make a romantic connection for himself, through everything from online dating profiles to street fliers promising nude photos of Newt Gingrich. The film seems to paint him as a sincere and kind individual whose uniqueness is a strength that most are unfortunately unable to embrace as such. Aspie Seeks Love looks like a fun, skillfully made film and the trailer makes me want to give David a big hug.
Grand Illusion Cinema, Tuesday, May 5th, 8 PM, $12
Cam Girlz, dir. Sean Dunne
We’ve all seen those annoying pop-up ads promising love and adoration from young women across the web, as if giving up your credit card number for a 20 minute webcam session will change your life. Well, Cam Girlz claims exactly that. One woman in the trailer says straight up that “camming” has changed her life. The film apparently approaches the topic from an self-empowerment perspective, that the women profiled in the film feel liberated in their exposure and take real pride in their work. This looks like an engaging documentary that will provoke stimulating conversation, at the very least.
Grand Illusion Cinema, Thursday, May 7th, 10 PM, $12
Coney Island: Dreams for Sale, dir. Alessandra Giordano
Apparently there’s more to Coney Island than cotton candy and carnies. The kitschy, theme park adorned beach in southwest Brooklyn has undergone a real estate seizure in recent years from a massive property manager who forcibly buys up properties from poor residents and then lets them sit. According to the trailer, there’s all sorts of implications involved in this, especially considering Coney Island’s history as a weekend getaway for the working class. Dreams for Sale looks like part kooky introspection into the lives of its eccentric residents and part exposure of classism and corporate greed. What’s not to love about that?
Grand Illusion Cinema, Saturday, May 2nd, 6 PM, $20