Local Sightings Film Festival 2020 Goes Virtual
September 18-27, 2020

10 Days of Films and Special Events Championing
Pacific Northwest Film & Media Makers

One of few festivals in the region of its kind, Local Sightings has gained a reputation for its strong programmatic design — which builds off of common themes rather than being hampered by the limitations of genre and promotes diverse media as a critical tool for public dialogue and engagement.

“This year’s films convey a collective longing for connection amidst calls to action, while holding a mirror to the ever-intensifying absurdities of the current moment. Equal parts heart, hope, heresy, and humor,” muses NWFF Artistic Director Rana San. “The range of stories is simply stunning — a true reflection of the diversity and creativity of filmmakers in our region.”

The 2020 program intentionally centers BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists, to stress how film and mediamakers traditionally underrepresented in mainstream media hold perspectives which are vital to furthering the important conversations of the current moment. Many of the program blocks will invite viewers to think deeper about the myriad ways in which virtual and “real” life blend, prompting them through related readings, participatory activities via snail mail, or shared interactive experiences, such as experiential surrealist games and online vision boards.

“We’ve spent the past half-year adapting our lives to virtual space, but our collective yearning for substantive interaction remains,” explains NWFF Executive Director Vivian Hua. “In addition to workshops and conversations with filmmakers, the spirit of Local Sightings called upon us to augment the digital experience with interdisciplinary points of connection and experimentation with the format of online festivals.”

The 10-day festival will also serve as a celebration for Northwest Film Forum’s 25th Anniversary, which will conclude with an interactive timeline of Film Forum memories and visual media, as well as a special Closing Night program curated by NWFF staff and board.


All programs are available on-demand any time from Sep. 18-27, 2020, unless otherwise stated.

Livestream Opening Event: Sep. 18 @ 7:00pm
Or view it on-demand any time Sep. 18–27, 2020

Vanishing Seattle is a project that documents displaced and disappearing institutions, small businesses and cultures of Seattle – and celebrates the histories, spaces, and communities that give the city its soul. All pay-what-you-can ticket purchases above $5.00 will be snail-mailed a Vanishing Seattle x NWFF goodie bag mailing featuring a hands-on activity; all other Local Sightings viewers are encouraged to share their experiences related to places within Seattle — both vanishing and not vanishing — that they hold near and dear to their hearts.

Closing Night: NWFF 25th Anniversary Celebration
One Night Exclusive Livestream Event: Sep. 27 @ 7:00pm

A playful and poignant 90-minute program curated by NWFF board and staff, featuring rare gems from the Film Forum archives, including commissioned “one-shot” films created by now-renowned filmmakers such as the Safdie Brothers, Drew Christie, and Barry Jenkins, plus “The Clouds that Touch Us from Clear Skies,” a short film by beloved late filmmaker Lynn Shelton. The program will be streamed across multiple platforms for a one-time Closing Night engagement, to which viewers can tune in and converse in real-time. Details forthcoming.


Artist Spotlight: Kiana Harris w/ AJE IJO Series
AJE IJO is a four-part dance film series by Kiana Harris, which centers the humanity, resiliency, vulnerability of Black & African diasporic people [of all genders], interrogates the western gender binary and interrupts accompanying notions of masculinity and femininity. Shot over the course of two years, AJE IJO elicits elements of spiritual cosmologies of the African diaspora, particularly those that emerge from the Yoruba divine consciousness, Ifa, and the Orisa (deities) that comprise it.

Artist Spotlight: Neely Goniodsky Retrospective
A special presentation of animated films spanning the course of 13 years by Seattle-based filmmaker Neely Goniodsky. Using ink, paint, and cut-out animation, Goniodsky creates ethereal visual enactments of poems, songs, daydreams, nightmares, and true stories. Her work has won awards at past editions of Local Sightings Film Festival as well as Cadence: Video Poetry Festival.

Artist Spotlight: Danny Denial’s CONDiTiONER
Join filmmaker and musician Danny Denial for a screening of CONDiTiONER, a surreal short film about a dysphoric musician who takes a mysterious drug that erases his identity and gets caught in a bisexual love triangle with his two best friends. Paired with a special curation of content by Seattle musicians/visual artists which were involved in the film or inspired it.

Artist Spotlight: BeautyBoiz: The Collective
Hosted by Kimber K. Shade, a lineup of queer talent will feature drag, spoken word, live music, queer culture! Performances from CarLarans, LüChi, Kimberly Michelle Westwood, DaQween, Guayaba, Kayla Carrington, Boujee Cherry, and many more. BeautyBoiz is a nonprofit queer production company based in Seattle.


(Roland Dahwen, Portland, OR, 2019, 110 min)
Shot on 16mm film in long, thoughtful takes, Roland Dahwen’s debut feature tells the story of an immigrant family in Oregon whose life is disrupted when it’s revealed that the father has a second family.

Fall Back Down
(SB Edwards, Vancouver, BC, 2020, 104 min)
In a stylish, colorful punk rock exploration of love, sex, and murder, a depressed ex-activist takes a job in a sweatshop, where he and his co-worker make a grim discovery.


Home in the Woods
(Brandon Wilson, Scotts Mills, OR, 2019, 97 min)
Filmed over the course of two years in Marion County, Oregon, the film contemplates the cycles, patterns and relationships that exist in the forest near the filmmaker’s home.

małni—towards the ocean, towards the shore
(Sky Hopinka, Vancouver, BC, 2020, 80 min)
Sweetwater Sahme and Jordan Mercier’s wanderings through each of their worlds as they wonder through and contemplate the afterlife, rebirth, and the place in-between. Spoken mostly in chinuk wawa, their stories are departures from the Chinookan origin of death myth, with its distant beginning and circular shape.


24 Hours in the CHOP w/ Short Film: Hope is Not Guaranteed
(Tajuan LaBee, Seattle, WA, 2020, 60 min)
A documentation of 24 hours spent in the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone of Seattle, WA.

Another Word for Learning w/ Short Film: Dzunuḵ̓wa
(Jadis M. Dumas, 2019, 72 min)
A unique documentary about the freedom to choose one’s own education and how it can pave a way to broader decolonization, even if that means leaving the school system altogether.

Eddy’s Kingdom
(Greg Crompton, Vancouver, BC, 2019, 85 min)
In this stranger-than-fiction tale, an entrepreneur’s obsessive dream of developing an island in Okanagan Lake into a Middle Eastern-themed amusement park leads to a spiraling path of legal turmoil and financial ruin, with hostage-taking and bomb plots along the way.

From Here
(Christina Antonakos-Wallace, Seattle, WA, 2019, 89 min)
A hopeful story of artists and activists based in Berlin and New York whose lives hang in the balance of immigration and integration debates, filmed over a decade in two of the world’s largest immigration countries.

The Invisible Father w/ Short Film: Taky Kimura – The Heart of the Dragon
(Thérèse Heliczer, Seattle, WA, 2020, 57 min) – World Premiere!
In the 1960s, beat poet and experimental filmmaker Piero Heliczer helped shape New American Cinema, and was enmeshed with iconic filmmaker Andy Warhol and The Velvet Underground at the very start of their careers. His daughter wonders if she can make peace with her absent father by finding a connection to him through his art.

The River: A Documentary Film
(Rick Walters, Seattle, WA, US, 2020, 91 min) – U.S. Premiere!
The River is a documentary about how communication and purpose play into the success and failures of managing the homeless encampment in Aberdeen, Washington. Director Rick Walters goes to The River Camp to live with and talk with the displaced inhabitants, learn about their perspectives and histories, and to find catharsis for his own battles with addiction and security.

Spawning Grounds
(Nils R. Cowan, Seattle, WA, 2020, 54 min)
In an effort to save a rare native salmon in one of America’s only Urban Wildlife Refuges, a community of scientists, landowners, elected officials and Tribal leaders bands together around science and Indigenous knowledge.

(Ying Wang, Richmond, BC, 2019, 115 min)
When an elderly Beijing couple receives notice that their only son has allegedly committed suicide and has been buried on Canadian soil, they travel to Vancouver to investigate the mysterious circumstances of his death. Made over the course of ten years, Ying Wang’s docu-thriller guides the viewer down a rabbit hole of mental illness, the crushing wheels of bureaucracy, and the vulnerability immigrants can face without cultural coping mechanisms.


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Sweet, tender, rich, and poignant tales of longing, belonging, and place.

Confronting the ghosts of our present, as humanity grapples with the current zeitgeist.

Experimentation is the manifestation of the MINDSCAPE, expressed through abstractions of landscape, visions of the self, and interactions of image and space.

Reject philistinism! Embrace extravagance! Transcend the good-bad axis of ordinary aesthetic judgement! Because in these films, style is everything.

The Great Outdoors comes inside through these tales of open air adventure and environmental stewardship.

Ruminate to illuminate through this collection of sociopolitical and interpersonal analyses of our country.

Awkward moments and aggravating relationships that are guaranteed to make you squirm in your seat.

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