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Seattle International Film Festival Preview

Posted by July 13th, 2003 No Comments »

“Dispatches from SIFF”
Local Author & Nada Editor Todd Bunker on the 29th Annual Seattle International Film Festival
May 22-June 15, 2003

It’s film festival season again. Wedged in between the annual awards ceremonies and the summer blockbuster deluge, the 29th Seattle International Film Festival is packing 220-plus films into three weeks of movie overload. The festival, as all festivals are, is a proving ground for the next would-be hit directors for any and every sort of genre of film you can imagine. As such, it’s a great place to see a mixed bag of movies that will most likely never see release in this country, or possibly anywhere at all; the winners, as it were, enjoy modest and limited release. Of course, the festival isn’t about winners and losers, it’s about a love of filmmaking and an opportunity to see films with a little more character than the major studios are willing to risk. So put down that Big Mac and Mocha Malt Frappuccino, and come on over to indie country. Doesn’t your brain get enough comfort food as it is?

Camp (2003)
United States
Directed: Todd Graff
Starring: Daniel Letterle, Joanna Chilcoat, Robin de Jesus, Sasha Allen

Some people are born to get up on a stage and entertain, and these people are generally misfits. What do child/teen misfits do when school’s out and summer rolls around? Why, go to drama camp of course! Camp offers a glimpse into this insular world within an insular world, following the lives of a handful of talented, and “would you believe it?,” tortured young souls. With a sincerity mimicking the show tunes that pepper the film, Camp often veers into teen melodrama territory that had me at times wondering if maybe the lake Camp Ovation sat on didn’t feed into Dawson’s Creek. But the talented cast keep the airy proceedings bearable, despite the sometimes conflicted plot which has a hard time deciding if the movie is an ensemble production or rather just labors under a supporting cast that was largely edited out due to time constraints.

This film will undoubtedly ring more true for anyone who’s had the unshakable urge to get up on a stage and entertain; although admittedly the spirit behind it was almost enough to make a jaded hipster critic dust off his dancing shoes and put on a show of his own. While the story is at times hurried and cringe-worthy in it’s liberal borrowing of sappy cliches, Camp has its heart in the right place. It definitely has a niche audience though, and therefore the ratings below are split accordingly:

If you know who the finalists on American Idol are this week: (7/10)
If you could care less: (4/10)

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