No, Reel NW is not a sport fishing show set in Ocean Shores. Reel NW is the name of our local PBS station’s home for made-in-the-Pacific Northwest documentaries, short films and features. The series is entering its fourth season. (Yes, four seasons!)
You may have thought KCTS featured only an endless reel of Antiques Road Show, Rick Steves’ Europe and the kiddie show Wild Kratts. But Reel NW should be on every local viewer’s must-see list, especially since all four years of programming are available for online viewing. The program is a de facto film festival, without the ticket prices and lines one encounters at SIFF.
The current season includes the feature length documentaries Icons Among Us: Jazz in the Present Tense and Fix: The Story of An Addicted City. The first is a straightforward, jazz lover’s riff on the future of the ever-evolving genre, co-directed by Peter J. Vogt and Michael Rivoira, and shot in local clubs by longtime Seattle director-of-photography Lars Larson. The latter is award-winning Canadian filmmaker Nettie Wild’s street-smart look at Vancouver’s solutions to its heroin addiction problem.
You can also find fictional features such as the oblique You Make Me Feel So Young by director Zach Weintraub, who seems to favor the shallow depth-of-field of his striking black-and-white images over character and story. A better use of your time might be the short films.
In the Reel Grrls-produced While We’re Asleep, kids talk about their sleeping habits and dreams, which are realized with the help of animation. In Shell Game, Washington’s outgoing Poet Laureate Kathleen Flenniken reflects on growing up in Hanford, her poetry accompanied by haunting vistas of Eastern Washington, some with mysterious, superimposed lines etched atop the images. And in The Metalsmith, Dan McComb’s tensile imagery and taut editing brings alive the work of local metalsmith Andy Cooperman who, facing potential blindness, “renews his commitment to making things worth seeing.”
This year Reel NW has a new host, longtime Seattle film advocate, Warren Etheredge, who introduces the films and interviews their makers. Sifting through the offerings, making the time to watch, one is reminded that the Pacific Northwest offers a bounty of filmmaking talent. The work may not premiere at Sundance or air on HBO or get reviewed in the New York Times, but these are valuable, enlightening and entertaining films showcasing passionate belief and great skill. We’re lucky to have them.
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