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NW Film Forum flips Big Hollywood 'The Birds'

The recent Hollywood-muscled shift toward digital projection is evicting film. Birds falling from the sky are only the first sign. Also this weekend: The weight of Seattle sports rests on the Sounders shoulders, choreographer Mark Morris returns home and Columbia City Theater goes vintage Bourbon St.

I know, you have already seen The Birds. How could you not? Next year celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of Alfred Hitchcock’s avian take on the zombie apocalypse paradigm. If you are old enough, you may have even seen it in theaters, when it was still common to release movies in black-and-white without nostalgia, irony or device (think: The Artist). Otherwise, you were likely introduced to the beak-and-talon horror by a family member or film history professor, who took pleasure in watching feathery personifications of nature assault some attractive Fitzgeraldian socialities. But if you haven’t seen the film at all, or missed your opportunity to observe it on the silver screen, Northwest Film Forum wants to give you a second chance.

If you are already a fan, listen closely. The age is nigh when it will no longer be possible to see Hitchcockian masterpieces in their original medium. The viewing comes as part of a campaign to screen original, 35mm film prints before the impending digital takeover. In case you are unaware, the powers that be are determined to smother in-house film projection by holding a subsidy for digital equipment hostage. 

As City Arts wrote in a recent article,

"Hollywood studios have determined that a technology called the Digital Cinema Package will be the next wave of cinema projection. They’re offering a subsidy to all cinemas until the end of the year to install DCP machines in their theaters. But to receive the subsidy, the studios insist that theaters remove all film technology from the building. Which means that those theaters will never present a film print again."

In other words, major Hollywood studios and digital-age advocates will subsidize theaters to install digital projection equipment on the condition that film reels become persona non grata in the building. That’s right, in order to qualify for the subsidy, all film equipment must be exiled from the premises. If this information disturbs you, your reaction is appropriate. As Northwest Film Forum’s program director, Adam Sekuler told City Arts, “If the deadline phases out 35mm film, then it seems like there’s no time but now to celebrate what 35mm film is.” As an outlet for your frustration, as well as a valuable educational tool, the screening will begin with an introduction by film critic Tom Keogh. Feel free to show up and vent your rage, or express your support … whichever comes most readily.

For contemporary film buffs, now is the time to polish your Hitchcock. Emmy award winning director Sacha Gervasi makes his non-documentary feature debut with Hitchcock, a biopic on the iconic English auteur later this month. The film stars Hollywood heavyweights and Oscar-winning actors Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren and a supporting cast that boasts Scarlet Johansson, Toni Collette and Jessica Biel. This new cinematic portrait of Hitchcock is poised to be a serious contender at the Academy Awards, and a breakthrough directorial work. See its inspiration now, while you still can.

If you go: The Birds at NFF, Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., Nov. 2nd, 7pm and 9:15pm.

The Atomic Bombshells at Columbia City Theatre: This world-renowned burlesque troupe brings the sultry, lace-garter tease of New Orleans to the oldest vaudeville venue in town. These international boudoir denizens were recently featured on the cover of The Stranger, and have been called “the crème-de-la-crème of American showgirls,” and “the New York Yankees of Burlesque.” Compared to The Atomic Bombshells, seeing other burlesque is like watching a nativity scene from a suburban Christmas pageant.

If you go: The Atomic Bombshells, Columbia City Theater, 4916 Ranier Avenue South, Nov. 3rd, 9pm.

Sounders FC: There is at least one more night of packing the home stadium and crowding the local bars before the Seattle Sounders plunge into off-season darkness. Unleash your city pride as they square off with the second-best team in the Western Conference for their first post-season playoff game. Real Salt Lake is only one point above the Sounders in MLS standings, and the home-half of this matchup could be exactly the scrappy dogfight we’re looking for.


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