Not on Netflix
Film festivals with a twist
WHAT: Dan Savage’s HUMP! Film Festival
WHEN: Weekends through March 6
WHAT: In Search of the Great Song Trilogy
WHEN: Through Feb. 17
COST: $3.95 per film, $8.95 for the trilogy
WHAT: Sweded Film Festival
WHEN: Feb. 12-March 4
Wednesday, February 3, 2021
What’s next? After pandemic-binge-watching one jillion movies and series on Netflix and witnessing atrocities in the news for months on end, perhaps you’re looking for unique ways to keep your mind occupied for a couple of hours. The following trio of offerings from around the region promise to take you out of your own head—but they won’t be found on Netflix.
First off is Dan Savage’s HUMP! Film Festival, which is streaming on various dates through March 6. In past years, the compendium of sex-positive short films curated by the Seattle-based Savage Love columnist made its way to Bellingham’s Pickford Film Center as part of its nationwide tour, but this winter the action is all online.
At past viewings of HUMP!, I’ve blushed, giggled, covered my eyes and also watched intently as people who aren’t porn stars bare their bodies—and sometimes their souls—onscreen. The five-minutes-or-under films are endlessly creative, with people of all ages, sizes, genders, colors and kinks celebrating their own particular forms of sexual expression. The DIY formula must be working, because 16 years after its inception the festival continues to draw fans from around the world.
“Our community can get porn anywhere they want online,” Savage acknowledges, “but they can’t get the diversity, the humor, the risk-taking and the all-out fun that they get at HUMP! We can’t wait to be back touring the country in physical theaters, but until then, we’re encouraging folks to use this time in lockdown to explore their sexuality and make some dirty movies.”
If music is what transports you, “In Search of the Great Song” is the theme for the monthly online director series leading up to October’s Friday Harbor Film Festival. Made between 2012-2019, the fascinating documentaries directed by Michael and Doris Laesser Stillwater seek to find the underlying source of music and song via a trilogy of films.
Through Feb. 17, stream one or all three of the selections, beginning with Shining Night: A Portrait of Composer Morten Lauridsen. As the camera’s lens gives a glimpse into the life and music of the artist considered to be one of the greatest living choral composers, viewers will be privy to intimate interviews with him in California, Scotland, and in the San Juan Islands. Interwoven throughout are performances of his masterworks, as well as commentary by musical contemporaries.
Next up, In Search of the Great Song features 50 voices, 12 countries, and one question: “What is the Great Song for you?” The answers cross many borders—from culture, faith, arts and science—and include voices from a variety of humans living everywhere from the Australian outback to the United States, South India, and the Swiss Alps.
Finally, Beyond the Fear of Singing brings Lauridsen’s music back into the mix, along with fellow musician Alex Shapiro. The doc takes a look at those who may be reluctant to sing, and examines the reason why. Did they experience criticism of the sound of their voice when they were young, or were they compared unfavorably to others?
“This film explores how this worldwide epidemic of silenced song is being met by an irrepressible uprising of the primal urge to sing,” a press release furthers. “Drawing extensively on the spoken insights and original music of voice educators and artists from North America, Europe, Australia, and India, it presents a truly global perspective.”
In a different vein, the focus will be on humor in the form of the Sweded Film Festival for Creative Re-Creations streaming from Feb. 12-March 4 as part of Lincoln Theatre’s Quarantine Cinema. Inspired by pandemic restrictions and Michael Gondry’s 2008 film Be Kind, Rewind—in which video store employees accidentally ruin all the vids and cover their ghastly mistake by producing mini-remakes of the originals—submissions came in from both pros and amateurs.
The virtual Quarantine Cinema offering is similar to HUMP! in that people were invited to take matters into their own hands by making five-minute videos, but differs in its scope. Viewers will see short versions of everything from blockbusters to indie and concert films—from Die Hard to No Country for Old Men, The Lighthouse, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. They’ll even watch the Lincoln’s own submission, a short version of Stop Making Sense.
“At $3.99 a virtual ticket, this is not going to save our stages,” Lincoln Theatre Center Foundation executive director Roger Gietzen says. “But it was awesome to get our full crew together for three hours—the first time in eight months—to make the film!”
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