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By Brad Wilke | May 7, 2009

The Seattle International Film Festival announced sixteen narrative and documentary features (and thirteen shorts) as part of its Northwest Connections program, highlighting distinctive work by regional filmmakers.

“This year’s record-breaking Northwest Connections program underscores SIFF’s dedication to supporting and showcasing the exciting films being produced in Seattle and beyond,” says SIFF Artistic Director Carl Spence. “These films are an important testament to the burgeoning Seattle filmmaking community.”

Lynn Shelton’s Sundance hit Humpday will be presented as a Centerpiece Gala on Friday, June 5th. The Northwest Connections program will also include David Russo’s The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle, Bobcat Goldthwait’s World’s Greatest Dad (starring Robin Williams) and Sandy Cioffi’s much-anticipated documentary, Sweet Crude.

“It’s a thrill for me to bring Humpday to SIFF, my hometown Festival,” says Shelton. “SIFF has been a huge supporter of my work and a vital booster of the local film community.”

The complete Northwest Connections program:

SIFF 2009 Centerpiece Gala

Humpday, directed by Lynn Shelton (USA, 2009)
Two college buddies test the limits of heterosexual male bonding by agreeing to take part in an amateur porn contest, based on the real-life competition held by The Stranger. This smart satire from Seattle’s Lynn Shelton about the contradictions of the male ego culminates in a hilariously uncomfortable finale.

SIFF 2009 Northwest Connections Features

Back to the Garden, Flower Power Comes Full Circle, directed by Kevin Tomlinson (USA, 2009) WORLD PREMIERE
Twenty years ago, local filmmaker Kevin Tomlinson interviewed hippies at a “healing gathering” in Eastern Washington. Now he tracks the same folks to see what became of their environmental utopias. Today, in the midst of global warming, the voices of these flower children are prophetic.

Dancing Across Borders, directed by Anne H. Bass (USA, 2008) WORLD PREMIERE
Sokvannara “Sy” Sar was a dancer on the streets of Cambodia until he caught the eye of filmmaker Anne Bass, who helped him become a professional ballet dancer. In her debut feature film, Bass sympathetically chronicles Sy’s ascent as ballet’s newest rising star.

Finding Bliss, directed by Julie Davis (USA, 2008)
Jody needs a place to shoot her movies but all she can find is a porn studio. She starts to secretly film there but is discovered and forced to collaborate with an adult film director. Filmed in Spokane, this fun romantic comedy borrows plot lines from director Julie Davis’ own start in the industry.

Icons Among Us, directed by Michael Rivoira, Lars Larson, Peter J. Vogt (USA, 2009)

Executive producer John Comerford interviewed 75 jazz artists with high-definition cameras, shot 25 hours of concerts on Super-16mm film, and blended them with archival footage. The result is a dynamic and engaging document of many of the greatest jazz musicians of today. Also part of SIFF Face the Music.

The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle, directed by David Russo (USA, 2009)
A group of janitorial slackers unwittingly becomes the subject of a very bizarre biochemical engineering experiment involving cookies that may help illuminate the meaning of existence. Full of imaginative animation sequences, this visually inventive comedy from Seattle’s David Russo is really a spiritual quest in sheep’s clothing.

Independent America: Rising From Ruins, directed by Hanson Hosein (Canada, 2008)

Independent America: Rising From Ruins explores the effects of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans and how the Moms and Pop businesses provided hope where corporate America disappointed. Avoiding over-dramatization, Hanson Hosein educates audiences about the empowered and hopeful in the New Orleans community.

It Takes a Cult, directed by Eric Johannsen (USA, 2008)
The Israel Family (aka, The Love Family) was a communal religious movement born in Seattle that grew to a tribe of nearly 300 men, women, and children. Raised in the Israel Family, Johannsen brings an intimate portrait of communal life and what drew them all together.

Pirate for the Sea, directed by Ronald Colby (USA, 2008)
Hero to conservationists and villain to hunters, marine environmentalist Paul Watson commits himself 100 percent to his cause. In this stirring profile, director and narrator Ron Colby explores Watson’s beliefs, blunders, and triumphs. He makes a convincing case that the world’s endangered oceans are better off due to Watson’s dedicated and frequently controversial efforts.

The Spy and the Sparrow, directed by Garrett Bennett (USA, 2009) WORLD PREMIERE
Shot in Seattle and produced by local shingle Eke Pictures, Bennett merges spy thriller with domestic drama to sly and surprising effect as retired agent Thomas Sparrow faces his greatest challenges in trying to reconnect with his troubled daughter, Josephine, in this sly and surprising film.

Sweet Crude, directed by Sandy Cioffi (USA, 2008)
Ten percent of our oil supply comes from Nigeria, but few of us know the social and environmental devastation that the oil business wreaks there. Local filmmaker Sandy Cioffi brings her camera overseas to expose the corruption and the growing militant reaction to the politically irresponsible oil companies in the Niger Delta.

Trimpin: The Sound of Invention, directed by Peter Esmonde (USA, 2009)
Trimpin is a wild ride through the kinetic universe of a creative genius. We watch Seattle-based artist/inventor/engineer/composer Trimpin design, scavenge, build, and investigate an outrageous range of materials. This will delight anyone interested in the mysteries, pitfalls, and sheer joy of creative experiment. Also part of SIFF Face the Music program. Also part of SIFF Face the Music.

True Adolescents, directed by Craig Johnson (USA, 2009)
Washington native Craig Johnson fills his directorial debut with the sights and sounds of the Pacific Northwest in this humorous and insightful tale of a down-on-his-luck indie rocker (Mark Duplass from Humpday and The Puffy Chair) who confronts his biggest doubts and fears when a camping trip goes awry.

The Whole Truth, directed by Colleen Patrick (USA, 2009)
A greedy, high living acting coach transforms disgusting criminals to appeal to juries, until she overhears a client she helped set free plan a heinous crime – and becomes his target for murder. Escaping death and discovering who she really is becomes the most expensive – and rewarding – experience of her life.

World’s Greatest Dad, directed by Bobcat Goldthwait (USA, 2009)
Shot on location in Seattle, this wickedly funny dark comedy stars Robin Williams as a sad-sack poetry teacher who inadvertently finds his greatest opportunity from a freak accident. Bobcat Goldthwait has concocted a lusciously perverse and refreshingly original tale that tackles love, loss, and our curious quest for infamy.

ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction, directed by Kevin Hamedani (USA, 2009)
Things are rotten in the idyllic island town of Port Gamble, Washington, quite possibly because there’s been a zombie virus outbreak. Now a small band of intrepid heroes must fight back and eradicate the undead invaders – it’s the American way.

SIFF 2009 Northwest Connections Shorts

“Bedtime Story,” directed by Sarah Jane Lapp (USA, 2009)
“CC 2010,” directed by Travis Senger (USA, 2009)
“Endless Tunnel,” directed by Tommy Thompson (USA, 2008)
“The Chronicles of Cleo and Jack,” directed by Karn Junkinsmith (USA, 2009)
“The Day My Parents Became Cool,” directed by Steve Edmiston (USA, 2008)
“Dark Material,” directed by Maile Martinez (USA, 2009)
“Her Meds,” directed by Matt Cibelli (USA, 2008)
“It’s In The P-I,” directed by Bradley Hutchinson (USA, 2009)
“November,” directed by Benjamin Dobyns (USA, 2008)
“One Night,” directed by Laura Jean Cronin (USA, 2009)
“Somewhere,” directed by Salise Hughes (USA, 2009)
“Sophia + Anna,” directed by Joy Andrews (USA, 2009)
“Thicker Than Water,” directed by Sami Kubo (USA, 2008)

The 35th Seattle International Film Festival runs May 21 through June 14. The complete SIFF program schedule will be available Thursday, May 7 at www

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