The 22nd Everett Film Festival brought the best of international cinema and the best of local food and drink together in the Everett Performing Arts Center the weekend of February 15, 2019. All of the volunteers exhibited a sincere esteem for film and a wish to share this appreciation with the community. Part of the festival’s mission statement states that the festival is committed to offering, “engaging and thought p rovoking films from across the country and around the globe with a unique look into the lives of women through documentaries, feature films, animations and film shorts..” Achievement unlocked.
I watched nine films over the course of the festival, six shorts and three feature length films. The three feature length offerings were excellent. And I enjoyed the shorts like I would a short story, a brief escape into a story world that could be agonizing, challenging, and, at times, hilarious. Here are my reviews of the films below. I’ve linked to the short films and included preview links for the features.
Take My Nose…Please! (2017) directed by Joan Kron, worked as contributing editor for Allure before making this documentary at age 89. This film follows two female comedians as they decide whether or not to get plastic surgery. Emily Askin, an actor and writer, who feels she has “unfortunate angles” that a nose job will fix, and Jackie Hoffman, a comic actor and stand up comedian living in New York City, who regrets not getting the nose job offered by her mother at sixteen. By focusing on two comedians, Kron examines how comedy is used to expose the pressure society puts on women to stay youthful and pretty. Kron uses archival interviews of the late Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers and Totie Fields and current interviews with plastic surgeons and sociologists to develop her conclusion: plastic surgery is nothing to be ashamed of. 8/10
Pick of the Litter (2018) directed by Don Hardy and Dana Nachman. This feature-length documentary follows a litter of puppies from birth on their journey to become guide dogs for the visually impaired. Filmed over the two years it takes to fully train to become a guide dog, only the best will make it. This film is the most family friendly of the festival. 9/10
The Night Witches (2013) directed by Allison Klayman. This short honors Nadezhda “Nadia” Popova, a pilot in the Russian all-female 588th Night Bomber Regiment. They’d cut their engines as they approached a bombing sight. The “swoosh” of their planes as they approached caused the German soldiers to nickname this regiment the Night Witches. 8/10
Return of the River (2014) directed by John Gussman and Jessica Plumb. This award winning, feature length documentary tells the story of the Elwha River dams, their removal and the positive impacts on the ecosystem, the community and Native American tribe on the Olympic Peninsula. Gussman is a photographer and filmmaker based in Sequim, WA. Plumb is filmmaker and artist based in Port Townsend, WA. 8/10
Julieta (2016) directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Alice Munro’s 2004 short story collection Runaway provided the source material for the film. Julieta (played by Adriana Ugarte in the character’s youth and by Emma Suarez when the character is in middle age) is a woman grappling with loss and disconnection from those she loves most. The film is told in flashback in her point of view. There’s no other window into the interior lives of the other characters so I didn’t trust Julieta as the narrator. And there is a conclusion to the story but no closure, so Julieta felt truncated instead of fully realized. 8/10
Intersection (2 min 45 sec) (2018) directed by Nicole McMurray. Intersection is the only film in the festival which is exclusively created by, starring in and filmed in Snohomish county. I was super excited to hear this and have promoted it on my personal social media as well as this blog. Filmed at an intersection in downtown Everett, WA, it’s only two minutes and forty-five seconds long but there’s a whole lifetime happening while someone waits for the light to change. I hope Ms. McMurray continues to make films. 8/10
Inocente (2012) directed by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix. This Oscar winner for Best Documentary, Short Subjects packs a wallop. Inocente is fifteen, homeless, undocumented and an artist. She creates bright, happy paintings and sculptures that don’t resemble her depressing surroundings. She’s determined not to let her undocumented status and the abuse she suffered define her. 9/10
A Reuben By Any Other Name (2010) directed by Jeremy Dylan Lanni. This short presents the differences between Orthodox and Reform sects of Judaism. 6/10
Sleeping Betty (2007) directed by Claude Cloutier. The princess will not awaken. She’s surrounded by the court, and some familiar faces, and her crying mother. Her father calls a doctor, a witch and a prince to wake up his daughter. Cloutier surprises the viewer in a way that makes sense in the context of the film and gets a laugh out of the viewer. 7/10
Hannah Cohen’s Holy Communion (2012) directed by Shimmy Marcus. Hannah Cohen sees her friends dressed up and going to church for their first Holy Communion. She desperately wants to participate… but she’s Jewish. Set in 1970s Dublin, this short conveys the universal desire to fit in with laughter and love. 9/10
The Everett Film Festival put on a great event. Well-timed breaks between sets of films and complimentary coffee and snacks generously supplied by many local restaurants were welcome. I got to sample some delightful food from new-to-me restaurants in Everett. The volunteers were all having a great time as well. And their organizational skills and effort yielded wonderful results- a smoothly run film festival that is a pleasure to attend.