Web Analytics Made Easy - Statcounter

Make Believe Film Festival makes Seattle debut

Share this Post:
Little Richard: I Am Everything — Courtesy photo
Little Richard: I Am Everything — Courtesy photo

As its name would suggest, this festival is what you want to make of it.

The inaugural Make Believe Seattle Film Festival comes to the Capitol Hill neighborhood, March 23-26. Intent on celebrating the spirit of imagination, the festival also seeks to expand the definition of "genre" in filmmaking.

"I'm kind of fascinated by that term, because only in the film world does it really mean what it means," said Festival Director Billy Ray Brewton. "If you are talking about the genre of a book, it's either going to be a romance, or horror, or a drama, or young adult, but with film you [also] have genres of film — but then you have genre, which in itself is a genre that covers horror, sci-fi, fantasy, martial arts... and everybody has their own definitions of the types of films that qualify for that."

Whatever you deem them, there's plenty to choose from. Make Believe Seattle includes 31 programs, seven West Coast premieres, and two world premieres. There are four juried awards that come with a $500 cash prize apiece and three audience choice awards worth $250 each.

Brewton, originally from the tiny town of Pisgah in northeast Alabama, has organized film festivals for the past 16 years and serves as managing director of Three Dollar Bill Cinema, which puts on the Seattle Queer Film Festival.

With the idea of making the festival inclusive of all income levels, organizers have priced passes and tickets at bargain rates, with a VIP pass topping out at $150. "We really did try to make our passes and tickets as affordable as possible for year one," Brewton said.

"We've got some amazing events as well as films... We've got folks coming in from all over the country for those events, live podcasts, parties, everything like that," he added.

Films with Queer themes
Five films have Queer themes, including a new documentary on music icon Little Richard. Directed by Lisa Cortes, Little Richard: I Am Everything, puts the flamboyant, oft-described "Architect of Rock and Roll" in a new light.

"It really does focus in on Little Richard's queerness, which I think a lot of people are afraid to talk about and this film is not," Brewton said.

He added that the film, coming off rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, is heartwarming and a perfect fit for Make Believe.

"A lot of people have questioned why I'm programming this film in a genre festival," Brewton said. "It all comes down to my festival [being] about make believe, and when I'm thinking about people who best personified make believe, Little Richard is about as high up as it gets."

Clockwise from top: Evening Primrose, Unicorn Boy, Poundcake, and The Jessica Cabin — Courtesy photos  

Evening Primrose is another entry featuring a departed celebrity. The 1966 film, starring Anthony Perkins of Psycho fame, is a one-hour musical with songs by the late Stephen Sondheim. Brewton said Evening Primrose is a "magical" early effort by the legendary composer, who had a good working relationship with Perkins. There is limited space for the Saturday afternoon free screening so RSVPs are required and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Elsewhere, fans of animation have a chance to see the West Coast premiere of Matt Kiel's Unicorn Boy. The young-adult, coming-of-age story is bound to provide a few laughs, Brewton said, and includes a surprise short film prior to its start.

"It's hard for genre festivals to find a lot of films that are gonna make an audience laugh, and this is one of those films that definitely fits the bill," Brewton said.

The Jessica Cabin is a ghostly Gay rom-com from Daniel Montgomery; Poundcake, a politically charged tale about a serial killer who only targets straight white men, closes the festival.

Brewton said Poundcake is New York filmmaker Onur Tukel's "love letter to the Queer community."

Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin is set to receive the inaugural Imagination Award on Friday night at the Northwest Film Forum, followed by a screening of his 1992 film Careful.

The Make Believe Film Festival is spread out over four venues: The SIFF Egyptian, the Northwest Film Forum, Queer/Bar, and Century Ballroom. For a complete schedule of events, films, and prices, or more information, visit https://www.makebelieveseattle.com/