For some of us, any time of year is a good time to darken the door of a movie theater. But as fall hastens, everyone else will have fewer days to feel bad about being indoors. Local film organizations have taken note — and they’re ready to unleash a wave of festivals to accommodate.
The season kicks off in earnest Friday, Sept. 20, with Northwest Film Forum’s 22nd annual Local Sightings Film Festival, which presents a stacked program of features, shorts and workshops from Pacific Northwest artists.
Opening-night film “How it Feels” chronicles Amy O’Neal’s genre- and gender-bending dance show “Opposing Forces,” which premiered at On the Boards in 2014. A dance party and karaoke will follow.
Music-focused documentaries are among the highlights: Seattle’s “First Lady of Gospel,” the Rev. Patrinell Staten Wright, is profiled in “Patrinell: The Total Experience,” while “In Her Hands” details the difficulty women have faced to earn respect in the male-dominated jazz scene.
The fest will showcase indigenous concerns (“Dawnland” details a commission’s investigation into child-welfare practices toward Native American families) and present archival oddities (1938’s “As the Earth Turns” is a Seattle-shot sci-fi indie).
As usual with NWFF, avant-garde film will be prominent. “The Emergency Labyrinth” is a stop-motion animated scroll of sumi ink drawings, presented with a free-jazz live score. Two experimental shorts programs will feature nearly a dozen films. And attendees can even channel their inner Stan Brakhage with a workshop on direct animation, where images are scratched and painted directly on film stock.
Local Sightings runs through Sept. 29, 1515 12th Ave., Seattle; localsightings.org.
Up next is the Tasveer South Asian Film Festival, beginning its 14th edition on Sept. 26 with a screening of “The Illegal” and an opening-night Bollywood dance party. “The Illegal” director Danish Renzu and star Suraj Sharma are scheduled to attend a discussion after the film, about a student from India forced to drop out of his U.S. film school to support his family. The festival runs through Oct. 6 at locations around Seattle; tsaff.tasveer.org.
Also opening that weekend is Cinerama’s 70mm Film Series, a truncated one-week affair this year. Cinerama mostly plays it safe with the same films they program every year (though everyone should see “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Lawrence of Arabia” on the format). But the series will offer the first chance to see Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” in 70mm in Seattle. The 70mm fest runs Sept. 27-Oct. 2, 2100 Fourth Ave., Seattle; cinerama.com.
The 24th annual Seattle Queer Film Festival begins Oct. 10 with documentary “Sid & Judy,” a companion (or perhaps antidote) to the forthcoming Renée Zellweger-starring biopic. The documentary features new material unearthed from the archives of Judy Garland’s third husband, Sid Luft. The festival runs through Oct. 20 at locations around Seattle; threedollarbillcinema.org/sqff24.
Now in its sixth year, the Orcas Island Film Festival has built a reputation for programming a top-tier arthouse lineup, and this year is no exception, with a slate featuring filmmakers Bong Joon-ho, Céline Sciamma, Pedro Almodóvar and Agnès Varda. The festival runs Oct. 10-14 on Orcas Island; orcasfilmfest.com.
Also coming up
Port Townsend Film Festival, Sept. 19-22: The fest features a robust lineup and a visit from character actors’ character actor Stephen Tobolowsky; ptfilmfest.com.
French Cinema Now, Sept. 26-Oct. 3: SIFF’s annual mini-festival offers a (mostly) contemporary overview of French-language cinema, at the Uptown. For Italophiles, SIFF’s Cinema Italian Style runs Nov. 7-14; siff.net.
Gig Harbor Film Festival, Sept. 26-29: More than 100 shorts and features will screen at this 12th annual South Sound fest; gigharborfilm.org.
Tacoma Film Festival, Oct. 3-10: A diverse lineup of documentary and narrative films power TIFF, running since 2006. One highlight: a retrospective of the work of clay animation filmmaker Bruce Bickford; tacomafilmfestival.com.
Seattle Latino Film Festival, Oct. 3-12: The 11th edition of the festival offers a host of narrative and documentary Spanish-language films; slatinoff.org.
Social Justice Film Festival, Oct. 3-12: Art and activism commingle in films about prison reform, labor law, indigenous concerns and more; socialjusticefilmfestival.org.
Seattle Polish Film Festival, Oct. 10-20: This long-running fest will celebrate its 27th year; polishfilms.org.
National Film Festival for Talented Youth, Oct. 24-27: Always inspiring, NFFTY will present work from filmmakers ages 24 and younger; nffty.org.
Romanian Film Festival, Nov. 15-17: Presented by the American Romanian Cultural Society, the fest commemorates 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall with films about the aftermath of the Cold War; arcsproject.org/film-festival.