Art and Performance Spring 2024

What the Hell Is Make Believe Seattle?

Finally, a Film Festival for Fellow Weirdos

The Power of Making People of Color Invisible

Stephanie Syjuco Empowers the Oppressed with Just a Finger

Better, Stronger, Faster

The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra Pays Tribute to the Legendary Oliver Nelson

Where to Pickup a Copy of The Stranger's Spring A+P 2024

Find it at Hundreds of Locations Around Seattle!

Queen of Our World

When Sasha taqwšÉ™blu LaPointe Writes, the Revolution’s Coming

Blowing Minds and Melting Faces

Thunderpussy Celebrate Their Survival with a Surprising Benaroya Hall Takeover

Person of Interest: Arson Nicki

Finally, a Fashion Expert for the People

Six Films You Need to See at Make Believe Seattle

Starring Ethical Vampires, Ridiculous Puppets, and a Dude Who Pretends to Be George Lucas for Funsies

Art, Illness, and Auto Repair

Cherdonna Makes a Compassionate Comeback

Person of Interest: TeZATalks

Harbinger of Horror-Filled Hardcore Pop

It’s Important That the Bug Undulates

How Anida Yoeu Ali Uses Wiggling Worms and Glitter as Forms of Protest

Sincerely Joking

Chastity Belt Live, Laugh, and Love 10 Years On

Your Spring Arts Itinerary

24 of This Season’s Very Best Art, Books, Music, Film, Theater, and Food Events

Tessa Hulls’s Feeding Ghosts Is Instant Canon Fodder

Too Bad She’ll Never Write Another Graphic Novel

Isabel Hagen’s Comedy Strings You Along

How a Juilliard-Trained Violist Found Harmony as a Stand-Up Comedian

Person of Interest: Taha Ebrahimi

Seattle’s Coolest Street Tree Expert

Teenage vampires, killer deer, and a man pretending to be George Lucas are just some of the terrifying and strange things that await you at this year’s Make Believe Seattle Film Festival. No, they aren’t all in the same movie—that would be too much chaos for one feature to contain. (Or, for you filmmaking maniacs reading this, I dare you to try so we can see the result!) But even when considering the broad strokes of your average film festival, one would be hard-pressed to find programming more wonderfully eclectic than what Billy Ray Brewton and the Make Believe crew have pulled together. Seattle has plenty of great festivals to experience, but this one has a whole heaping of much-needed weirdness. Here are five of the most surprising, delighting, and entertaining films from Make Believe Seattle’s schedule that you really shouldn’t miss.

A Most Atrocious Thing

United States, 2024, 75 min., Dir. Ben Oliphint, Christian Hurley

Fri Mar 22 at 8 pm at Northwest Film Forum

Starting things off is one of two of the festival’s world premieres and also its most endearingly scrappy feature. Embodying the true spirit of independent film with its potential to make a charming genre pastiche from humble origins, A Most Atrocious Thing tells a timeless story of enduring friendship, the beauty of the natural world, some tainted deer meat, and sweet, sweet murder. It follows a group of friends who all get together to spend a weekend at a remote Colorado cabin for drinking, hunting, and bonding with the boys, but things soon go awry. The movie is gleefully absurd with a ridiculous puppet, farcical characters, and nonsensical dialogue that pokes fun at itself, staying light on its feet and never taking itself too seriously. Though more than a bit rough around the edges, particularly when it comes to some effects and transitions, when the violence starts, the film reaches its gore potential as an antlered killer pulverizes the characters one by one. It may just be the best—or worst depending on your perspective—thing to happen to deer since coyotes.

For Night Will Come

France, 2023, 104 min., Dir. CĂ©line Rouzet

Sat Mar 23 at 9 pm at The Erickson Theatre

The first of two vampire movies showing at the festival, For Night Will Come follows a family that have just moved to a nice new neighborhood where they must fit in while seeking out an ethical blood supply for their teenage son. We’ve all been there. Boasting a visually striking opening that only feels more tragic the longer it goes on, the film explores the dark comedic awkwardness of playing by the rules of “polite society” before getting appropriately grim when we see the steep cost that comes from operating outside these lines. The question, then, is: Who is the real monster in our cruel world? Thus, there are allegories galore while the film maintains a bloody strong core. Though it may elicit comparisons to Let the Right One In, For Night Will Come feels most like an extension of the classic Ganja & Hess or the recent My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To. In the end, it’s a work of vampire horror that holds all of us up to the light.

Sara Montpetit as Sasha in Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person. COURTESY OF MAKE BELIEVE SEATTLE

Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person

Canada, 2023, 92 min., Dir. Ariane Louis-Seize

Sun Mar 24 at 8:15 pm at Northwest Film Forum

There are some universal elements that most of us go through when growing up. We rebel against authority, question the choices our parents may have made, try to carve out our own identity in a world of conformity, and also search for that special someone who is willing to die so that we may continue our vampiric existence by feasting on their blood. Okay, while that last part might be unique to the young vampire Sasha, played with deadpan perfection by Sara Montpetit in Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person, the rest of her eternal life is relatable, defined by the desire to forge her own path. When her parents cut off her blood supply so she’ll finally grow up and kill someone already, she forms a connection with a troubled young boy who just wants to end it all. As the two then spend one last night together righting wrongs so he can go in peace, they discover that there may be something to living after all. Like if What We Do in the Shadows was crossed with A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night—it’s a low-key film about death with plenty of life. By the time it arrives at a delightfully sweet end, you’ll only wish you could dance along with it a bit longer.

I’m “George Lucas”: A Connor Ratliff Story

United States, 2024, 90 min., Dir. Ryan Jacobi

Sat Mar 23 at 2:15 pm at The Erickson Theatre

Some documentaries explore the most existential issues of our time. Some take us absurdly deep into a specific topic we never thought would warrant such focus. Then there is I’m “George Lucas”: A Connor Ratliff Story, which somehow manages to do both. The film is a profile of comedian Connor Ratliff who has been doing an improv show in New York where he sprays his hair white and pretends to be the creator of Star Wars as he interviews actual big-time guests as part of his fictional talk show. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Why the hell would anyone spend years of their life doing that?” the real question you should be asking is “Why the hell do any of us do anything?” Ratliff is just a maniac here, armed with hairspray, a fascination with movies about space wizards, and friends willing to do terrible impressions. It’s all about seeing through an idea not because it will make you successful, popular, or any such nonsense. No, this is a film about one man taking to a stage to perform to a bunch of weirdos (a compliment!) as George Lucas for the love of the game. Cinema at its most profound, this is. 

Sauve Sidle as Sol in 'Lost Soulz.' COURTESY OF MAKE BELIEVE SEATTLE

Lost Soulz

United States, 2023, 95 min., Dir. Katherine Propper

Sat Mar 23 at 5:45 pm at Northwest Film Forum

Next is a more meandering movie about music that thrives precisely because of its relaxed pace. Centering on the aspiring rapper Sol, played by newcomer Sauve Sidle, the film takes us through the vast state of Texas after Sol is suddenly offered the chance to go on a tour of sorts after a party. Written and directed by Katherine Propper in her feature debut, Lost Soulz is much less about what happens as it is about the feeling of how it all unfolds. You see, Sol is running from something as much as he is going towards something. The absolute joy of being on the beautifully shot open road, with its new experiences, is tempered by a sense that we all eventually will have to come home to face the music. As the film delicately yet decisively establishes, no trip can ever last forever. Instead, it’s like visiting the roadside petting zoo they stumble upon—you may be swept up in almost childlike wonder, but eventually, you’ll have to leave it behind.

The Wheel of Heaven

United States, 2023, 103 min., Dir. Joe Badon

Tue Mar 26 at 6:30 pm at the Grand Illusion

There is no better film to end with than Joe Badon’s The Wheel of Heaven. It is like a cinematic hallucination that you wouldn’t ever want to wake up from, a film of many films that are all distinct from one another while still being part of a wild and chaotic whole. It takes us into the life of a woman named Purity who, in the first of several incarnations, is played by Kali Russell. When her car breaks down, we get sent through a choose-your-own-adventure book, a feature, a series, a public access channel, and a behind-the-scenes doc all at the same time. Such a description is only a fraction of what the film feels like as you’re ripped along for the ride. Whenever we eventually die, there’s a good chance The Wheel of Heaven is what it feels like to see all of the many lives that you could have lived flashing before your eyes.

Make Believe Seattle runs March 21–26 with screenings at Northwest Film Forum, the Erickson Theatre, and the Grand Illusion. Tickets are available at