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SATELLITES 2000: A COMMUNITY SNAPSHOT

Film can be a social, collaborative art if fostered by an active community. Seattle's microcinemas, independent cinemas, and film/media organizations have traversed a bumpy road of changing technology and cultural landscape in the past decade. With the recent explosion of internet film distribution and home video delivery coupled with Seattle's endangered film industry, one might assume the worst for any semblance of a cohesive independent film community. Yet, many mutations and new ideas have brought sustainable success to an active and vital filmmaking and film-presenting community that is exceptionally stronger than ever. Satellites is a snapshot of a current coalition of film and media exhibitors who have shown an ongoing commitment to developing Seattle's film community.

Perhaps with a certain measure of maturity, the existing milieu contains opposing philosophies, contradictory characters, yet complementary programs. The groups in Satellites bring cutting edge and rare programs to Seattle audiences year round, keeping active a new and progressive dialogue of the art of film in transition. These curators not only offer much needed opportunities to both local and international film and media makers, but they offer unique and diverse programming which complements SIFF - year round.

PROFILES OF THE SATELLITES:

Acme Cinema/SUFF
In 1995 one of the longest standing members of Seattle's film community, working in film since the early 1980's, filmmaker Jon Behrens formed Acme Cinema with fellow Seattle experimental filmmaker Steve Creson. The Acme Cinema Group is dedicated to film as an art and has set up screenings of their work all over the west coast. In 1997, Creson and Behrens founded Cinema 18, a small storefront small storefront cinema on Seattle's Capitol Hill. Cinema 18 is Seattle's premiere micro cinema dedicated to experimental, avant-garde and offbeat short and feature films from around the world. A film collector and exhibitor, Behrens has been showing ongoing film series in Seattle in addition to his own work since the early 1990's at venues such as the former Pike Street Cinema, the patio at Linda's Tavern, and at Seattle's Baltic Room. Behrens favorite exhibitions include CINEMA EXPERIMENTO a monthly film show case of classic and contemporary experimental and avant-garde short films; and Seattle's longest running film series dedicated to Exploitation, cult, Sci-Fi and Horror films from the 50's 60's and 70'.

In Jan of 1999 Behrens and Creson put out the call for entries for what would become the first Seattle Underground Film Festival. This event was held from Oct 8th - 17th and was dedicated to the best in Experimental, Avant-Garde and Offbeat short and feature films from around the world. This event was held for 10 nights and screened over 80 films from all over the world on 4 screens and was seen by over 2000 people, making this the largest and most successful alternative film event in the history of Seattle.

Blackchair Productions
Joel Bachar (also founder of the Seattle Independent Film and Video Consortium) founded Blackchair Productions and Microcinema, Inc in 1992. Since 1996, Blackchair Productions has curated "Independent Exposure", a monthly Microcinema screening which has programmed over 400 works by independent video, film, and digital artists from 91 cities in 39 states and 13 countries. Blackchair has also presented the "Independent Exposure" programs to venues outside of WA in 50 cities, 20 states, and 25 countries.

Bachar recently formed a new company Microcinema, Inc. which holds the distribution rights for over 125 avant-garde, alternative, and experimental short films, video and digital works that Microcinema, Inc. distributes to traditional outlets, following the model developed by Blackchair, as well as over the internet through Microcinema.com.

Microcinema.com serves the international film, video, and digital communities and its audiences by leading the Microcinema movement.

Emerald Reels
Emerald Reels was found by filmmaker Reed O'Beirne to serve and promote artists dedicated to producing and performing vibrant works of motion-imaging visual art by focusing primarily on three areas of activities:

  1. Super-8 Lounge Screenings (ERS8) - A unique blend of filmscreening with dj-ing and the starting point of the whole organization. Entering its third year, the ERS8 is a collaborative effort that combines the visual dynamics of super-8 filmmaking with the aural landscapes and loungey beats of some of Seattle's most creative DJ's. By mixing films with DJing, ERS8 provides a "lounge" atmosphere that encourages audience members to move about and converse during the event - thus blending the atmosphere of a cinema with that of a nightclub. In a cooperative environment, first-time filmmakers screen their work alongside super-8 giants like Anne Robertson, Doug Lane and Martha Colburn. In the last year, ERS8 has screened over 150 films in San Francisco, Vancouver BC and Seattle to over 1100 fans. Since 1998, Emerald Reels has screened the work of over 40 different filmmakers at our Super-8 Lounge screenings.
  2. Webcastings and Video Compilations - Using the international access of the internet, ER provides worldwide exposure for undependent filmmakers and their films through their website. In addition, they compile super-8 films into group videos that are available to be screened anywhere in the world.
  3. Cooperation and Participation in Larger Events - Developing coalitions and partnerships through involvement in larger festivals, screenings and other multi-media performances and organizations.

The Independent Media Center (IMC)
The newest on the scene, and certainly by far the most politically active, the Independent Media Center was founded in Seattle in the Fall of 1999 by a collective of local and national media activists and neighborhood organizers. This "people's newsroom" uses multiple mediums to amplify the voices of communities, organizations, and individuals who work for justice and are often under-represented in the corporate media. In its November debut the IMC played a vital role by breaking the information blockade during the World Trade Organization's Ministerial Talks. A team of video producers from across the nation collaborated to produce unprecedented nightly coverage that was satellite-cast and seen in over 100 U.S. cities throughout the week. The IMC's innovative website, www.indymedia.org, hosted over 1.5 million visitors during the week of WTO - more than CNN's website during the same period.

Since the creation of this powerful "new media" model, members of the Seattle Independent Media Center have played key roles in the founding of event-based IMC's in Boston, London, and Washington, DC. There are currently Independent Media Centers in development in Philadelphia and LA for this summer's U.S. political conventions, in Prague for the next IMF/World Bank meetings, and in Amsterdam for November's U.N. Conference on Human Rights. Discussions are also underway to support new media centers and expand the dynamic Indymedia network in Mexico City, Montreal, Austin, New Delhi, Seoul, Barcelona, Toronto, San Francisco, and Buenos Aires.

The IMC's mission is to reclaim our democracy, our media democracy, and to provide a citizen-driven alternative to for-profit media outlets . The IMC hosts media production trainings for community members, covers local events with an international context and distribution model, and hosts screenings and other events at its downtown Seattle location. While "Showdown in Seattle", the IMC's coverage of the anti-WTO actions, sells and sells, "Breaking the Bank" the newly produced coverage of the recent actions in DC is screening to packed houses at the IMC's space on 3rd avenue. And the new feature-length project, "This Is What Democracy Looks Like", will premiere in major cities across the U.S. this July.

911 Media Arts
Founded in 1984, 911 Media Arts Center is Washington's premiere non-profit (501c-3) cultural and educational organization that supports the creative uses of media as communication and art-making tools in a democratic society. 911's mission is to promote decentralization and participation in the media arts, and to make media and media literacy an integral part of the community-building process. 911 believes that everyone should be active media users, and therefore 911 provides the resources necessary to empower and educate people to critically analyze and produce their own media. 911 Media Arts Center's services include: affordable access to video and multimedia editing suites; more than 100 workshops each year; screenings of independent films, videos and digital media; fiscal sponsorship of independent productions; large-scale public events (i.e. "Flava-Fest", "Irish Reels"); a scholarship program and media access grant; community media resources; and media networking events.

911's facilities include a 50 seat theater and six edit suites including an AVID Media Composer 8000, an AVID MCXpress, two MAC suites featuring Final Cut Pro and Premiere, an On-Line Betacam SP suite and an Off-Line 3/4' cuts only suite. Additionally, 911 features Seattle's only Linux training lab.

911 brings artistic and educational events to the public through a unique program of lectures, film festivals, and new media installations. Each year 911 presents public screenings of hundreds of films and videos that are not usually seen in commercial theaters or on broadcast television. These presentations showcase regionally, nationally and internationally acclaimed independent work. Frequently, the artist is present to discuss the creative process behind the work. Genres range from documentaries to animation, dramatic to experimental, and guest curators are invited to present single shows and series on a regular basis. 911 Media Arts Center presented Seattle's first all digital screening of video downloaded from the Internet in June of 1999. 911 continues to offer audiences the opportunity to experience high bandwidth content through its innovative WebFlicks screening series.

The Northwest Film Forum
Founded in 1995 by Jeremy Hook and Deborah Girdwood, joined by Program Director Michael Seiwerath in 1996, The NWFF is a non-profit, 501(c)3 arts and cultural organization striving to encourage the appreciation of film as an art form, to inspire and facilitate the creation of artistic film, and to support the continued development of the local film community as a whole in areas of both production and exhibition. NWFF's facilities include two independent cinemas, The Grand Illusion Cinema and The Little Theatre, as well as a production arm known fondly as WigglyWorld Studios.

WigglyWorld is a working filmmaker's collective, dedicated to the continued artistic development of the local independent film community. WigglyWorld has 16mm and S-8 equipment granting and access programs, workshops, studio space, a filmmaker resource lounge, fiscal sponsorship, insurance partnerships, and ongoing programs such as our apprenticeship placement program designed to link and nurture artistic filmmakers in Seattle. Since 1997, WigglyWorld has co-produced two feature films and aided in the production of over 100 short 16mm and Super-8 films.

The NWFF's exhibition arm inspires audiences year round 24-7-365 at Seattle's only independently own classic arthouse cinema, The Grand Illusion. The NWFF purchased the thirty year old cinema in 1997 and renovated in 1998. The 70 seat Grand Illusion shows the best in repertory and world cinema and offers on-going special programs such as the "Weekend Matinee Series" which features restored and archival, rare prints by masters such as Robert Bresson and Krystof Kieslowski. The GI also offers a Children's Film Series each summer, themed series such as "Crackpots and Obsessives", and a quacky Late Nite program of naughty and outlandish fare.

The NWFF's multi-use arts space, The Little Theatre, was established January of 1999 and combines a visual art gallery, performance stage, and a 49 seat movie theatre accommodating Super-8, 16mm, 35mm & video projection. With its proximity to WigglyWorld Studios, The Little Theatre provides the NWFF with an outlet for both local films, and the inventive, community-minded co-presentations (i.e. New Dance Cinema, Ustawi, Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival) that reach to the outer limits of film and its associated arts.

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