Olympia Film Festival

An embarrassment of riches in its 31st year

By Rev. Adam McKinney on November 5, 2014

Look, I watch a lot of bad movies for fun. I know it's ultimately a shallow pursuit, and I am still mad at myself for missing almost all of the Best Picture nominees of last year, but - ever since my peak of intense movie-watching, when I was working as a projectionist at The Grand Cinema - I sometimes find it hard to pump myself up into seeing a great movie. Sometimes, as in when I recently saw the messy and great Birdman, my passion gets revitalized. I find myself reminded that there's still so much to be done in the medium of film. And, now that we're in awards season, this sort of excitement should last me until January, when the next round of garbage comes streaming through the cinemas.

What we can always count on, thankfully, as we live in the progressive wonderland of the South Sound, is that there will always be a surplus of interesting films coming through our theaters. With upstarts like the Tacoma Film Festival and the Destiny City Film Festival, we can't forget the steadfast quality of the Olympia Film Festival, which enters its 31st year with style. Opening with a performance from Girl Trouble and Mudhoney (playing their first Olympia show in a decade, I'm told), the Olympia Film Festival has an embarrassment of riches with regards to the breadth and variety of the films coming to the Capitol Theater.

>>> Mudhoney will rock the opening night of the Olympia Film Festival Friday, Nov. 7.

"The Olympia Film Festival is a joint effort involving somewhere around 7,500 people, in various functions," says Olympia Film Society Marketing and Events Coordinator Harry Reetz. "We've put a lot of work into it, and now that the program is printed and available, I'm really pleased with how everything turned out. ... The opening night movie is going to be awesome. It's called My Last Year With the Nuns. It's sort of a memoir-comedy-documentary. Sort of like a Spalding Gray movie, where it's basically just a monologue, but it's surprisingly good. It didn't look like something I would enjoy, but it's really funny."

Reetz doesn't know me, but if he did, he'd know that he had me at "like a Spalding Gray movie." The late actor and monologist is one of my favorite people to watch (not to mention my spot-on impression of him, which is available upon request).

Other films Reetz goes on to spotlight include the documentary about baseball player Dock Ellis, who infamously pitched a no-hitter while tripping balls on LSD. The accompanying film, No-No: A Dockumentary, is one of the lighter docs amongst a sea of daring and hard-hitting documentaries being featured at OFF: the Elliott Smith-centric Heaven Adores You, the environmental examination of Oil & Water, and the intimate character study of The Treasures of Long Gone John. Perhaps the most intriguing entrant in the festival is The Tribe, which is a drama performed entirely in sign language, with no subtitles and no voice-over.

Most intriguingly, this year will feature the bestowment of a Lifetime Achievement Award on cult actress, writer and overall badass Mary Woronov.

"Mary Woronov has had a career like nobody else," says Reetz. "She started off in New York in the Warhol scene. ... Eventually, she starred in Warhol's most successful film, Chelsea Girls, and then they had some kind of falling out. Unlike the other people associated with Warhol, she went on to have a long, crazy career in movies. She became something of a cult queen. None of her movies were mainstream popular, but she's been in movies we've all heard of, like Death Race 2000 and Rock ‘n' Roll High School. She was in Chopping Mall and Warlock, these really fun grindhouse movies. She's probably the only person who's been in both a Murder, She Wrote episode and a Suicidal Tendencies music video."

Not only will Woronov be in attendance to accept her award, she will also be presenting one of the all-time great B-movies, Eating Raoul, in which she stars. The violent dark comedy is in fine company with some other B-movie classics playing at the festival, such as Cannibal Holocaust, The Fog, Hausu, and The Incredible Melting Man - which will be shown in 35mm, as well as Jean-Luc Godard's Weekend, whose epic long-shot will be stunning on film. This, along with closing night comedy from the great Hari Kondabolu, makes the 31st year of the Olympia Film Festival unmissable.

Olympia Film Festival

What: The 31st annual festival features a mixture of old and new films plus a concert, horror fest, porn night and a comedy show.

When: Friday, Nov. 7-Sunday, Nov. 16

Where: Capitol Theater, 206 Fifth Ave. SE, Olympia

Tickets: $10 for regular screenings, $7 for Olympia Film Society members, $4 for children 12 and younger. Full and partial passes are available, too.

Information: 360.754.6670 or olympiafilmfestival.org

Mudhoney, Girl Trouble concert, Friday, Nov. 7, 9:30 p.m., $15, $12 for members

All Freakin' Night horror film fest, Saturday, Nov. 8, midnight, $15, $10 for members

Hump Fest porn night, Saturday, Nov. 15, 9:30 p.m., $15

Hari Kondabolu and Elicia Sanchez comedy show, Sunday, Nov. 16, 8 p.m., $12, $10 for members