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Originally published Friday, September 2, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Movie review

A long run for short-film showcase: 1 Reel turns 10

Bumbershoot is turning 35 this year, but there's another milestone being celebrated on Seattle Center grounds this weekend: The 1 Reel Film...

Seattle Times movie critic

Bumbershoot is turning 35 this year, but there's another milestone being celebrated on Seattle Center grounds this weekend: The 1 Reel Film Festival, the four-day celebration of the art of the short film, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, with approximately 140 short films screening at the Intiman Playhouse.

Warren Etheredge, who's curated the festival for the past six years, has marked the occasion by revisiting 10 years' worth of short films and putting together several packages that look back over the festival's first decade.

"The Best of the Best of the Fest," at 8 o'clock tonight, features all of the festival's top prizewinning films over its first decade. "Comedy Gold!," at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow is a selection of comedies — "literally, films that I found so funny, I had to watch them again on the big screen," said Etheredge.

And "Curator's Classics," at 8 p.m. Sunday, consists of Etheredge's personal favorite films, from the thousands he has watched over the years. (Etheredge typically reviews approximately 1,500 films a year for the festival, choosing less than 10 percent.) "These are the films that did not win the top prize," he said, "but in my mind just as easily could have." Among those films: "Zamboni Man, "The Ocularist," "Delusions in Modern Primitivism" and many others.

Etheredge has noticed several changes in the art and craft of short filmmaking over the years — the biggest, he says, has to do with digital-video technology. "The big film schools, like USC and UCLA, are shooting a lot of things on video," he said. "There's a very different aesthetic now versus 10 years ago or even six years ago. I used to look at a lot of stuff shot on grainy 16mm, but you don't see that much of it anymore. It's either really high-end 35mm production or a lot of video."


"Bumbershoot: The Seattle Arts Festival," 11 a.m.-11 p.m. today through Monday, Seattle Center; $28 a day, $45 two-day pass, $80 four-day pass, $8 a day for kids 6-12 (with an adult) and seniors 65 and over, kids 5 and younger free; (206-628-0888, tickets available at Ticketmaster or visit Bumbershoot online).

He also notes that a benefit of curating the festival is learning about film schools across the country. This year, his biggest discovery was "a great film program at the University of Texas." He'll show three films from U.T. this year. Last year, he says, he was pleasantly surprised to learn about the film program at Notre Dame.

This year's festival will also include the unveiling (at 7 o'clock tonight) of David Russo's new film, "I Am (Not) Van Gogh," commissioned by 1 Reel last year and shot (almost) entirely at Bumbershoot in 2004.

Though Etheredge, like the audience, will see the film for the first time at its premiere, he was able to offer a general description. "It's in David's typical style," he said, "a lot of time lapse, stop-motion. What's exciting is, it sounds like he's leapt another hurdle in his evolution as a truly innovative filmmaker."

Results of The 1 Reel Challenge, which invites returning filmmakers to respond to a question (this year's is slightly unprintable: "Are You [Expletive] Kidding Me?"), will screen at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. And the traditional Best of the Fest Awards, with the Short Order knighting ceremony, will take place at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Other than these special events, most of the festival is themed packages of short films, offering an infinite variety. (Those looking for family-friendly material might want to seek out "Hollywood High" and "Hollywood High: Honor Roll" — both made by Northwest high-school students — as well as "Saturday Morning Cartoons" and "To the Extreme," a collection of extreme-sports adventure films.

A few of the films shown this year have some known names involved: for example, Jim Taylor, Oscar-winning screenwriter of "Sideways" (and a Bellevue native), has a short film in the festival called "The Lost Cause." But for the most part, these filmmakers are little-known; making art for love rather than money.

"What I truly love about shorts," said Etheredge, "is that it is the last bastion for passionate filmmakers. Nobody will ever make a cent making a short film, so they have to be doing it for the love, for the most part. And that really comes through."

For the full schedule, see

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

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