Things to do in Seattle: Sept. 26 - Oct. 2

Festivals from South Asian film to kids books to wooden boats, plus contemporary Salish art and more cultural must-sees.

A scene from "Laal Kabootar," a film showing at the Tasveer film festival

Love Southeast Asian films? Make your way to the Tasveer film festival to catch dozens of films, including Laal Kabootar, pictured above. (Photo courtesy of Tasveer)

Fall film festivals

Monday marked the autumnal equinox, which means our daylight hours are starting to take a nosedive. But never fear, the film festivals are here to carry us through the dreary season. This week brings three excellent options. The Tasveer South Asian Film Festival — one of the largest in the world — brings more than 60 films in all genres, with a strong showing across themes of women’s rights and LGTBQ issues. The lineup also includes two short films by recent University of Washington grads, Esha More (The Concurrence) and Dennis Tran (Before I Go), as well as the feature film Vellai Pookal, a thriller filmed all over Seattle. Meanwhile at SIFF, French Cinema Now explores contemporary Gallic films, reflecting the country’s appreciation of over-the-top humor (The Shiny Shrimps, about a gay polo team) and abiding love of l’amour (Kiss and Tell). And for those who relish going dark, consider Seattle Art Museum’s 42nd annual Film Noir Series, featuring such classics as Alfred Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man and more recent examples, such as David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. Dive in and before you know it, the days will start to get longer again. –B.D.

If you go: Tasveer South Asian Film Festival, Sept. 26-Oct. 6. French Cinema Now at SIFF: Sept. 26-Oct. 3. Seattle Art Museum's Film Noir series: Film Noir Series at SAM Sept. 26-Dec. 5. Times prices and venues vary.

Seattle author Asia Citro
Local author Asia Citro (of 'Zoey and Sassafrass') will be signing books at the Greenwood event. (Photo courtesy Seattle Children's Book Festival)

Seattle Children’s Book Festival

Seattle serves as loamy soil for bookworms. Our many independent bookstores (including the new Paper Boat Booksellers, which opened in West Seattle this month), our beloved library system and well-attended literary series helped earn us an official designation as a UNESCO City of Literature. But how do we ensure that our literacy legacy endures? Infect Seattle kids with book fever! The first-ever Seattle Children’s Book Festival takes place this weekend, featuring a rich lineup of kid lit — from babyproof board books to masterful middle grade titles. Sponsored in part by Phinney Books and Madison Books, the fest features some 50 award-winning authors, who’ll sign books and give workshops on how to write them. No better time than the present to teach the youngsters that yes, Virginia, standing in a long line to get a favorite book signed is well worth it. Bonus: A portion of book sales will go toward getting more kids books into Seattle Public Schools. –B.D.

If you go: Seattle Children's Book Festival at Greenwood Elementary, Sept. 28, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (Free)

Bushwick Book Club performs
Bushwick Book Club performers turn literature into music (and have a blast doing so). (Photo courtesy Bushwick Book Club)


Bushwick Book Club: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

What would your favorite book sound like as an indie music concert? Would the narrative unspool with a bluegrass lilt or ring out like a soulful ballad? You can bet Bushwick Book Club has a few ideas. A perfect storm of book nerds and music geeks, the “club” of local musicians writes original songs based on literary works and presents them in concert. The Seattle branch of the New York-founded group kicks off its 10th anniversary season this week, with a set of indie tunes based on Haruki Murakami’s masterful novel The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. How will they convey the passivity of unemployed main character Toru Okada? Or the missing cat that sends him off on a slow-paced and strange adventure? With an experimental jazz clarinetist (Beth Fleenor) and a ukulele maven (Del Rey) in the mix, this is sure to be one of the book’s most unusual translations. –B.D.

If you go: Hugo House, Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m. ($10)

Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival

If you couldn’t make to Port Townsend for the Wooden Boat Festival earlier this month, no need to shiver ye timbers — there’s plenty of boaty-ness to be had right here in town. The 43rd annual Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival takes place this weekend at the Center for Wooden Boats in South Lake Union. It features seafaring fun including boat rides, boat races, short voyages on a historic ship, plus canoe dancing and stand-up paddleboard jousting (not making those up, I swear). Once you’ve dried off, you can listen to speakers, from shipwrights to boatbuilders, and members of team Sail Like a Girl, which is prepping to compete in this year’s Race to Alaska. Also don’t miss the chance to step inside the shipshape new Wagner Education Center, designed by local starchitect firm Olson Kundig. –B.D.

If you go: Center for Wooden Boats, Sept. 28-29, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. (Free)

French Impressionist painting
'Small Boat Near Riverbank, Autumn Effect,' by Gustave Caillebotte. (Courtesy Tacoma Art Museum)

Monet, Renoir, Degas and Their Circle: French Impressionism and the Northwest

It makes sense when you think about it: The vivid brush strokes, love of the outdoors and sensitivity to the permutations of light in French impressionist paintings found a firm footing in the Pacific Northwest. But the notion is still a surprise to some people. “It was to me,” says Tacoma Art Museum Executive Director David F. Setford, who joined the museum last year. Shortly after his arrival, Setford came across roughly 40 European paintings in TAM’s collection, gifted by a family from Lakewood. “A good many of those were French impressionist works,” Setford says. “I was a little bit gobsmacked.… We had these marvelous paintings by Renoir, Pissarro, and Degas here.” With those and other impressionist paintings from public and private collections across the Northwest as the anchor, Monet, Renoir, Degas, and Their Circle: French Impressionism and the Northwest gives local audiences a chance to see the superstars of impressionism together. The show also zooms in on how the Northwest and American painters such as C.C. McKim, Clara Jane Stephens, John Butler and others took cues from the influential artistic movement. –M.V.S

If you go: Tacoma Art Museum, Sept. 28 - Jan. 5, 2020. ($15-$18; free on Thursdays 5-8 p.m.)

Johnny Maynard's Killer whale drum
Killerwhale drum, by Salish artist Maynard Johnny Jr. (Courtesy Stonington Gallery)

Salish Brilliance: Dan Friday & Maynard Johnny Jr.

At Pioneer Square’s Stonington Gallery, a run of bright-blue sockeye salmon, made by Dan Friday (Lummi Nation), swims against the stream of the white gallery wall. Nearby hangs the vertical painting “Night Wolf.” In it, Maynard Johnny Jr. (Penelakut/Kwakwaka’wakw) turns the Indigenous formline style on its head and imbues it with popping fields of turquoise, yellow, orange and purple. Both artists honor tradition by building upon it with new colors and materials. Friday, for example, pays homage to the Lummi weavers with his glass baskets bearing intricate, wovenlike patterns. Recently, he has started working on an intriguing body of glasswork inspired by shaped stone anchors used to hold reef nets (sxwole) made by Lummi fishers. The practice was banned for a long time but has seen a resurgence in recent years. Friday makes his reef net anchors from glass. He creates the cracked surface by plunging the hot, just-blown glass into a bucket of water repeatedly and then rubbing a dye-powder into its cracks. “You have to know historically where you’re from, but you also have to make your mark on it,” he says. –M.V.S

If you go: Stonington Gallery through Sept. 29. (Free)

cast of Everything is Illuminated
The Boot-It cast of 'Everything is Illuminated.' (Photo by Sasha Bailey)

Everything Is Illuminated

What starts out as a goofy road trip deepens into something heartbreaking and much darker in Jonathan Safran Foer’s heralded 2002 novel Everything Is Illuminated. That is also true of the new Book-It Repertory Theatre adaptation of the book, which begins in a mirthful key but is not for the faint of heart. Everything we think we know about the initially cartoonish Ukrainian kid Alex and his grumpy grandpa, who shepherds the young fictional version of Foer on his exploration into his own grandfather’s World War II past, changes in the course of this somewhat overstuffed (at 2½ hours) but otherwise admirable and remarkably dexterous dramatization by director-writer Josh Aaseng. The production captures all the elements of Foer’s triple-layered tale, with live action and narration provided by Alex’s post-journey letters, Foer's fantastical lecture about the alleged origins of his ancestor’s shtetl (Jewish-Ukrainian village) and a shadow-puppet vision of the latter with folksy wood-cut style figures.

But the unearthed truth of Jewish family history is not, in the end, so charmingly quirky and humorous.  As revealed by the last survivor of that shtetl, it is an agonizing and detailed revelation of fascist brutality — and of impossible choices in a world gone mad and murderous. What saves Everything Is Illuminated from utter despair is the hope that succeeding generations will learn about but not allow a repeat of the previous ones, a timely prescription. And what makes the Book-It adaptation so vibrant is the all-round excellence of the cast, with particularly memorable work from Michael Winter, Susanna Burney and Peter Sakowicz. –M.B.

If you go: Book-It Repertory Theatre at Seattle Center through Oct. 6. ($20-$50)

Wolcott's photo of Mosquito Crossing
Marion Post Wolcott's 'Mosquito Crossing, GA.' (Courtest G. Gibson Gallery)

Photo Finish

In each small picture box on a vintage, sepia-tinted collotype, a pigeon stretches its wings just a tad more, seemingly ready to fly out of view. In another, a horse lifts its hooves as if to gallop out of the frame. With his images of animals and people midmovement, 19th-century photographer Eadweard Muybridge wanted to grasp the minute details of motion and what it means to keep moving. That’s why Gail Gibson included three Muybridge works in Photo Finish, the last-ever exhibit in G. Gibson Gallery. After 28 years in the gallery business, Gibson will move to an online and by-appointment-only model this fall, so it’s not an end, she says. “We’re just changing gears so that we're moving forward.” Calling Photo Finish a “best of” wouldn’t be wrong, but the phrase doesn’t quite capture the world-class work Gibson has gathered here, with pioneering photographers and masters of black-and-white such as Marion Post Wolcott, Imogen Cunningham, Ansel Adams, Manuel Alvarez Bravo and many more. Gibson also makes sure to highlight contemporary photography by local gallery artists, such as Daniel Carrillo and Eirik Johnson. –M.V.S

If you go: G. Gibson Gallery, through Oct. 12. (Free)

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About the Authors & Contributors

Misha Berson

Misha Berson

Misha Berson was the chief theatre critic for The Seattle Times for 25 years, now working as a freelance writer and teacher.