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Foreign Legions 

by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & B & lt;/span & uilding a yearly film festival is iterative by nature. You show some films one year. If they're remotely successful, you do it again the next year, trying to get slightly better films while staying in the black. If you're a successful smallish festival, the presentation should be modest, the improvement should be gradual. Flash and haste have been the end of many. It's good, then, that SpIFF hasn't changed much in a year. They've got a nice slate of foreign and domestic fare, perhaps a bit heavier on the foreign this year. They've brought a few more filmmakers to talk, but not gone overboard. Slow and steady, kids -- that's the way to do it. Here's a bit about what's coming, with our recommendations.





My Name Is Wallace


USA 2006 | 17 minutes


Kukumi


Kosovo 2005 | 107 minutes


A story about how tough it is being mentally handicapped in Kosovo (much harder than not being handicapped, which is tough enough). Three institutionalized gents find themselves free when the staff of their asylum flee NATO forces. Less about staying alive, Kukumi is a rumination on what being alive means. Thursday, Jan. 25, 7 pm





Jack the Vomiter


Spokane 2006 | 19 minutes


Local filmmakers' campy silent film follow-up to the much-raved-about shockfest What's in the Barn?


Rising Son


USA 2006 | 90 minutes


Tony Hawk's videogame franchise is one sign of how mainstream skateboarding has become. The unending litany of documentaries and docudramas pointing to the sport's wild past is an example of how hopelessly mainstream phenomena try to remain edgy. Rising Son is the latest, a story about Christian Hosoi, vert ramp superstar, drug trafficker and bad-ass. This might be the first skate doc ever, though, in which Stacey Peralta doesn't strut around like he invented the place. Friday, Jan. 26, 6 pm





Organ Music


Canada / USA 2001 |10 minutes


Shinobi


Japan 2005 | 101 minutes


This is like Romeo & amp; Juliet in a tensely peaceful 17th-century Japan, complete with all the hot swordplay and semi-requited love you can shake a katana at.


Friday, Jan. 26, 8 pm





Fiduciary


USA 2006 | 21 minutes


"Hello Again Everybody": The Harry Caray Story


USA 2006 | 90 minutes


Think a documentary about the guy who invented baseball's most lethargic between-inning ritual (the seventh inning stretch) sounds like a snooze? Joke's on you. Saturday, Jan. 27,


11 am





Blowing in the Wind | UK 2006 | 10 minutes


Exit: The Right To Die | Switzerland 2005 | 75 minutes


A film about the tense intersection between personal freedoms and government oversight, Exit tells the warts-and-all tale of a country that has decided to allow its citizenry to die how they choose -- then, obviously, had to set up a vast bureaucracy to administer the choice. Saturday, Jan. 27, 2 pm





NxNW 48-Hour Film Fest winners | Spokane 2006


Caffeine | USA 2006 | 88 minutes


Battle of the sexes in a London coffee shop! Watch Mena Suvari and Breckin Meyer struggle with their Buh-rih-tish accents. Saturday, Jan. 27, 5 pm





I Am An Apartment Building | Canada 2006 | 13 minutes


Dark Water Rising | USA 2006 | 75 minutes


Covering an under-reported angle of the Hurricane Katrina rescue operation, Dark Water Rising focuses on the attempts by rescuers to evacuate some 50,000 stranded pets from the city. Saturday, Jan. 27, 8 pm





Building Bridges | USA/Bosnia 2006 | 13 minute


Recycled Life | USA/Guatemala 2006 | 38 minutes


A shocking look at the Guatemala City garbage dump, where the poor have been living and working in toxic squalor for 60 years. Oscar-nominated for Best Documentary Short Subject; filmmaker Leslie Iwerks will be in attendance.


Ng | USA 2006 | 9 minutes


Twilight of YoutH | USA 2006 | 35 minutes


Sunday, Jan. 28, at 11 am





Kara, Daughter of a Tree | Indonesia 2006 | 10 minutes


Stories From the North | Thailand 2005 | 88 minutes


A dreamlike, episodic journey to the north of Thailand, where modernity has begun encroaching on centuries-old customs. Sunday, Jan. 28, 2 pm





Daingerfield | Canada 2005 | 22 minutes


News of the Spirit: The Storytelling of George Garrett | USA 2006 | 85 minutes


Some dude named Irv has been filming George Garrett for, like, 30 years. That's a lot of time to invest for a documentarian. Good thing Garrett panned out: He published several novels and became the poet laureate of Virginia. Sunday, Jan. 28, 5 pm





The Hunter | USA 2007 | 20 minutes


Loop | Norway 2005 | 78 minutes


A seemingly episodic meditation on the way we (or, at least, Norwegians) find sanity in an increasingly harried world. Thursday, Feb. 1, 6 pm


Career Day | Canada 2006 | 8 minutes


When the Road Bends: Tales of a Gypsy


Caravan | USA 2006 | 110 minutes


Jasmine Dellal, who famously used the life and times of Spokane's Marks family as a microcosm of the experiences of gypsies in America, returns with a film about Roma touring the States. Thursday, Feb. 1, 8 pm





Pinch | Canada 2006 | 5 minutes


Our Daily Bread | Austria 2005 | 92 minutes


A film about industrial meatpacking, vegetable-growing and other giant-consortium-run food production monoliths that doesn't contain cloying liberal commentary? This we gotta see. Friday, Feb. 2, 6 pm





Revolver Tango | Canada 2005 | 5 minutes


Vitruvius' Toybox | USA 2005 | 6 minutes


A String Quartet in Her Throat


Canada 2006 | 23 minutes


Mozartballs | Canada 2006 | 55 minutes


A film about compulsive Mozartians. Friday, Feb. 2, 8 pm





Blessed by Fire | Argentina 2006 | 100 minutes


We're suckers for the aftermath of misbegotten wars, so this is great. Winner of the 2006 Goya for best Spanish-language flick, Blessed by Fire looks at the emotional scars left by the Falklands War. Saturday, Feb. 3, 5 pm





Dancing Ground | USA 2006 | 15 minutes


Expiration Date | USA 2006 | 60 minutes


A really strange flick about Charlie (pictured here), who's preparing to die as his 25th birthday approaches. Both his father and grandfather died when they turned 25 after getting plowed by milk trucks. Charlie's expecting nothing different. Saturday, Feb. 3, 8 pm





The Fall of '55 | USA 2006 | 82 minutes


A sex-ring hoax to rival that of Wenatchee in '94, The Fall of '55 tells the story of similar hysteria that gripped Boise in 1955, ruining at least 16 lives. Sunday, Feb. 4, 11 am





Dancing Boy | South Korea 2006 | 20 minutes


Time To Leave | France 2005 | 85 minutes


Before dying, a gay man with terminal cancer seeks to reconcile with his loved ones. Sunday, Feb. 4, 2 pm





Drifting on the Wind | Iraq/U.K. 2005 | 5 minutes


From Afar | Iran 2006 | 100 minutes


The life of a young Iranian at three critical but disparate points in his life -- as a student of film, a businessman and an architect.


Sunday, Feb. 4, 5 pm





All SpIFF sessions will be held at the Bing, Sprague and Lincoln St. Tickets: $9 per session; $40, five sessions; $125, all 16 sessions. Visit www.spokanefilmfestival.org or call 624-2615.

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