Festival Travel: SIFF 2017

June brings a wave of summer movie watching on the festival circuit. A few festivals sneak on the calendar after Cannes in May (one of three seasonal “tent poles” of festivals, the others being Sundance in January and TIFF/Telluride in September) to grab audiences before the summer really hits.

As previously mentioned on this blog, this year I joined the programming team for the 43rd annual SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival). With newly appointed Executive Director Sarah Wilke, Interim Artistic Director Beth Barrett (a friend of several years) took the helm this year after veteran Carl Spence’s departure from the festival. After a few conversations last winter, Beth brought me on to the team to help cull through the thousands of film submissions they receive.

SIFF is the longest film festival in North America: 25 days! A whole ‘nother kind of marathon event. E and I had planned a trip to Seattle for mid-June for my sister-in-law’s graduation from Seattle University, which luckily coincided with the last week/weekend of the festival. Since this trip was a mix of business and family time, I didn’t get to experience SIFF in full. Our mornings were spent exploring the city and drinking a lot of coffee.

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Sunny days in Seattle. The weather is always like this right?

Much of that coffee was from La Marzocco, a cafe and showroom located with Seattle’s hip radio station KEXP. La Marzocco is known for their high-end espresso machines, but opened a speciality cafe in Seattle where each month a renowned coffee roaster takes over the space and implements their own special menu. It’s a remarkable feat to consider. Our close friend, Amy, manages La Marzocco and she filled us in on how she and her team curate a new, unique experience every four weeks (long story short: it’s a fast-moving environment and no easy task). We tasted many incredible drinks, but our favorites were the Cafe Miel and the affogoto. Amy was so kind to give us a “backstage” tour of the KEXP studio and office space, filling us in on the history of the station. (The music library was impressive and I loved seeing how they are slowly and methodically digitizing all their materials – an epic job on its own.) If you’re ever visiting Seattle, I highly recommend checking out La Marzocco for a truly unique coffee experience.

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The KEXP music library
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KEXP’s live studio space

Back to festing, we stopped by the festival lounge where E and his sister tasted tequila from a festival sponsor and I got to catch up with friend and SIFF’s Director of Philanthropy, Ben McCarthy. By the time the staff is on day 20+, many are running on a mix of autopilot and few hours of sleep. Seeing a fresh, friendly face is a delight and laughter helps a lot.

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The great team behind the movies…

Later in the week, E and I watched The Grifters (1990), one of several tribute films to SIFF honoree Anjelica Huston. Beth Barrett introduced the film and spotted me in the audience (we hadn’t seen each other yet), which created a hilarious improvised moment in her introduction of the film. It was the first time either E or I had seen this film and we were curious. Huston is great (as she is with pretty much every role) and the film’s ending is dark. So much so, I actually laughed out of uncomfortableness with the twisted, climatic moment. Annette Bening is also a standout (as usual). Both ladies made this noir story work for me. John Cusack, not so much.

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Showing off the bump with SIFF Interim Artist Director, Beth Barrett
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Lounge with SIFF’s Ben McCarthy

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After the screening we ate dinner at Momiji and sang karaoke at Rock Box (which I highly recommend) to celebrate E’s birthday. We then headed to a favorite college bar of my sis-in-laws, in which E, Amy, her husband and I were very much the oldest people in the room by ten years. (Being the sober, pregnant member of this party I was stuck out two-fold.)

Much of the remaining trip was with family and close friends as we celebrated the graduation. Since I only had a small slice of SIFF, I hope next year I’ll be able to spend a little more time with the event. With the long length of the festival, attending an earlier weekend would likely have a different feel since filmmakers or guests can’t stay for the entirety. From an industry perspective, the last weekend is a fun time to attend since the staff are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and the vibe is a little looser. I’m excited to see how the festival will grow and change under the leadership of Barrett and Wilke. The Seattle film community is in good hands.

In my next post, I’ll be sharing this past weekend’s travels to Palm Springs ShortsFest (spoiler, it was CRAZY hot) where I was one of the panelists for the festival’s forum. Stay tuned. In the meantime, have you seen The Grifters before? I need to talk to someone about the ending!

New Year, New Goals

Do you make New Years Resolutions? I haven’t always done it. When I started a few years ago, they were fairly simple: breaking a bad habit (nail-biting) or the typical be-healthier-and-start-exercising…again (most recently with an attempt at yoga). I think of resolutions as goals. They usually shift mid-year resetting with whatever reality has set in by May or September. As the year goes by, I’m changing, so it’s important to remember how the goals may change with me.

With that in mind, here are a few of my goals for 2017:

  • Learn how to make jam. My mother-in-law makes amazing raspberry jam and shares it with family and friends often. Not only does it seem like a good tradition to continue, but something needs to go on all the biscuits of 2017!
  • Have at least one coffee date a month with a friend or colleague. This may not seem like much, but we’ve all been there. You’re in the midst of Monday’s to-do list and then it’s suddenly Thursday and then how is it the end of the month already and you haven’t seen that person you care about and enjoy chatting with about life? I happens. I feel the predictament is especially true in Los Angeles. Making an effort to see someone who lives a mere 12 miles aways can be much more difficult than it should be. There are boatloads of excuses to keep from sitting in traffic for two hours, yet sometimes you (read: me) should make that extra effort. Social media is no longer an excuse to keep up with people. So part two of this 2017 resolution is: cut back more on Facebook because social interaction is amazing and REAL. If 2016 taught us anything, it’s that life is too short and you should spend quality time with the people you care about. And typing out a hashtag, while amusing, is not actually taking action.
  • Read at least one book a month. I go through stages of reading. Last year I got back into a solid reading habit and visited the library often. I want to keep this going and I know it’ll be a struggle when my submission screening is high. I tend to lean more towards nonfiction, with the occasional novel thrown in. I’m currently reading: Year of Yes. Tell me readers, what books should be on my 2017 to-read list?
  • Visit a new film festival. I have a regular schedule of festival travel due to work, so the festivals become very familiar. I’d like to add a new regional festival visit to the calendar this year and squeeze in a different fest experience. A SIFF screening may be possible this June, fingers crossed. Will I see you at a festival this year?
  • Grow this blog. Starting Cinema Sous Chef was scary and a little challenging between learning the basics of blogging and setting out the time to WRITE. I’ve never thought of myself as a writer, but I’ve enjoyed the learning process of starting a blog and the creative outlet it’s given me. Now I want to dig in and learning how to make it thrive. I will need your help here, so let me know what posts you’ve enjoyed so far or what kind of posts you’d like to see more here. Excited to see what happens and sharing more with you.

What are your resolutions for 2017?  Any resolutions you’re proud to say you checked off last year? Best of luck to you and yours!

Gift Guide for the Foodie

Holiday gifts. There are so many options to choose from. Where do you start? Well this week, you’re in luck. I’m here to help!

Today, I’m posting a Gift Guide for the Foodie: a few of my favorite cooking and food items that I’m sure will please anyone on your gift list. All (but one item, #2) are things E and I have either received as gifts in the past or have bought ourselves. Nothing but rave reviews here.

So without further ado, this year’s Gift Guide for the Foodie:

  1. Help save the environment while you shop for your produce! We made the switch to reusable produce bags this year and love these cotton muslin bags from Simple Ecology.
  2. For when you need meal planning inspiration, roll the Foodie Dice!
  3. The Toddy Cold Brew coffee maker is a definitely favorite in our household. Easy to make, sits over night and you have coffee good for a week!
  4. For the wino, Honig’s Sauvignon Blanc – Late Harvest is lovely. The Honig winery is one of my favorites in Northern California and this dessert wine is a highlight.
  5. pit mitt is a must-have for any BBQ-er in your life.
  6. For the foodie who is also a history nerd, I recommend: A History of Food in 100 Recipes by William Sitwell
  7. A stylish mortar & pestle is handy for every chef and doesn’t take up much counter space.
  8. A cocktail kit is nice to kick things up a notch while traveling and a perfect stocking stuffer!
  9. Give the gift of cheese. I promise, it will be their favorite gift. (Also if you want to send me something from Cowgirl, I’d be cool with that.)

Stop by on Thursday for part two of my Gift Guide, focused on the film fan in your life!

Have you started your holiday shopping yet? What are some of your favorite foodie gifts?

Sunday Mornings

For me, weekends are not always the relaxing type. As a consultant, work is whenever it needs to be. And sometimes that means a Sunday morning feels like a Tuesday morning.

But then there are those Sunday mornings that are exactly as they should be. Quiet streets outside. A cup of coffee (or tea) by my side. Magic hour sunlight. Sweet and cool tunes play through the hallway. An entire day lies ahead, ready to be seized. Those are the best mornings.

I’m on the older side of the millennial generation. Just the cusp of it. My parents read the paper on Sunday mornings. I grabbed the comics. While the internet boom quickly phased out that newspaper tradition for me, I appreciate the concept. Taking time to review the world from you robe. To reflect. To inform. To celebrate. To mourn. To educate. To be mindful of being alive and get lost in your thoughts.

This is that kind of post. Inspired by Joy the Baker, on Sundays-when possible-I’ll share a collection of cultural highlights. Not necessarily food or film related, but always something that sparks curiosity and life.

  • Have you listened to Radiolab’s side project More Perfect yet? Great listening for long road trips or flights. Or Sunday mornings. (One of my earlier summer binges.)
  • It’s boot season y’all. I can not allow myself into a DSW this time of year.
  • A dear friend of mine (who encouraged me to start this blog) and fellow crafter makes beautiful quilts. Putting in my quilt-of-the-future fabric request early with this and this. Dreamy!
  • VR is all the rage. Filmmakers, jump on it. It is the wild west of filmmaking. (More on that topic to come.)
  • Launch Vidiots into the next era!
  • Ask A Manager is one of my favorite blogs. And this is a fantastic post.
  • If you can vote on November 8, do it. Not just for the big crazy presidential election, but for your local leadership and propositions. That’s where real change happens and your vote matters most. (And if you’re working in another state like I am on Election Day, make sure you’re signed up for early or absentee voting.) Californians, there are a ton of Props on the ballot. Get informed here.

 

Thanks for reading.
Enjoy the day!
It’s going to be a great one.