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Tomorrow’s filmmakers, today

NFFTY

When the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY) rolls out the red carpet later this week, the next Spielberg or Ephron might be among the 200+ filmmakers whose works will be screened during the four-day festival.

They just might not be able to drive themselves to the screening, and many won’t be able to network over post-festival beers.

NFFTY, entering its seventh year, spotlights 215 films from around the world – all made by directors 22 and younger. Filmmakers come from as far as Denmark and South Africa, but at least two UW students will showcase their work this week: Andrew Mitrack will screen his film “One Way Single,” and Alexis Lee will show “The Face of Facebook.”

The main attraction is the sheer volume of screenings: Films, grouped by genre, will be shown throughout the weekend at SIFF Cinema Uptown in Seattle’s Lower Queen Anne neighborhood, with many of the NFFTY filmmakers taking part in question-and-answer sessions and panel discussions on a variety of film-related topics. “These youth are definitely on the fast track,” said NFFTY Managing Director Lindsey LeDuc, ’04.

“Kid” isn’t always a misnomer, either. Children as young as 8 have created films for the festival, where the average film is about eight minutes long.

But teens and college students also take part. Many college filmmakers submit their thesis or class projects for consideration, LeDuc said.

One of those students was filmmaker Champ Ensminger, ’12. In 2011, he submitted “Tonal,” a six-minute film he’d shot for a filmmaking class. The film followed a young man’s addiction and relationship with sounds. Ensminger, who now lives in Brooklyn, won the Audience Award for Experimental Cinema for the film.

But, for Ensminger and so many filmmakers, the real fun begins after the credits roll. “NFFTY was a good showcase of the work you’ve been doing, but that’s where it starts,” he said. “It has to be a springboard for doing more work.”

And that connection is what’s fueled NFFTY’s growth over the years. The screenings themselves are just part of what NFFTY does; student filmmakers talk shop, draw up plans to collaborate, and see what their peers are doing, creating a unique atmosphere of creativity and inspiration that lives on long after the festival finishes each year. “By attending, you get to see the voice of this generation,” LeDuc said. “It’s really powerful to have these young artists from all over the world come together to show what inspires them.”

If You Go

What: National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY), showcasing more than 200 films by directors 22 and younger from around the world

Where: Opening Night Gala: Seattle Cinerama, 2110 4th Ave., Seattle, Wash.; All other events: SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Avenue North, Seattle, Wash.

When: April 25-28; visit nffty.org for a complete schedule of events.

Cost: Opening Night Gala: $35, $25 for youth, $20 per person in groups of 10 or more; All other events: $11, $10 for youth, $9 per person in groups of 10 or more.

More info: Call 206-905-8400 or visit nffty.org.

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Arts Dawg Preview: “Once Upon a Time 6x in the West”

Once Upon a Time 6x in the West

“Indian” (Ben Phillips) offers Lil (Sylvia Kowalski) medicine in UW Drama’s Once Upon A Time 6X In The West at the Jones Playhouse Theatre. (UW Daily—Photo by Andrew Tat)

Have you ever wondered what Star Wars would have been like if Martin Scorsese had directed it?  How about Nora Ephron? Once Upon a Time 6x in the West will take you on a similar journey, following a single story through the styles of six iconic visionaries of avant-garde theater.

Once Upon a Time 6x follows the story of Lil, an orphan girl coming of age in the Wild West. Coming at the story from wildly different perspectives, from the stripped down austerity of Peter Brook to the madcap mashups of the Gob Squad, will provide unique insights into the art of storytelling.

Read a review from the UW Daily.

Director Jeffrey Fracé shares insights into his production, and describes the various theatrical styles you’ll see in Once Upon a Time 6x in the West, in an interview with Professor Odai Johnson:

If You Go

What: Once Upon a Time 6x in the West, the latest production from UW Drama. UWAA members can sign up through the Arts Dawg program, which includes a pre-show reception with free wine and appetizers, as well as an exclusive talk with director Jeffrey Fracé.

Where: Jones Playhouse Theatre, 4045 University Way NE. Arts Dawg reception on April 25 in Parrington Hall, UW Campus

When: April 19-28. Arts Dawg performance April 25, 2013. Performance begins at 7:30; reception begins at 6:30

Cost: Regular $18; UWAA members $13 when purchasing online in advance. Prices go up $2 at the door.

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Throwback Thursday: The Quad

We here in the UW Alumni Association are hopping aboard the “Throwback Thursday” bandwagon by sharing photos from the University of Washington’s storied history. We could think of no better way to launch this series on our blog than with photos of the Quad and those beautiful cherry blossoms.

The Yoshino cherry trees, which blossom for a week or two every March, symbolize the end of winter, the onset of spring, and countless photo opportunities in the Quad. But it wasn’t always that way.

Here, for example, was the Quad in 1942. Notice anything missing?

The Quad (circa 1942)

The Quad (circa 1942)

Until the early 1960s, the Quad was an open, treeless yard that bore little resemblance to the iconic gathering space of today. The brick paths were almost replaced with asphalt in 1963, but the plan was abandoned in the wake of pressure from student groups.

The Quad as we know it today first took shape in 1964, when UW President Charles Odegaard arranged for the 31 cherry trees to be transplanted from the arboretum to keep them from being bulldozed as part of the State Route 520 construction project. They found a home in the Quad because there was nowhere else to put them, but the trees quickly became a cherished part of campus lore.

Yoshino cherry trees live for 60-100 years; as they grow old and die, the trees are replaced with younger trees grown at a nursery near Mount Vernon.

Walk through the Quad this week or next — when the blossoms are near full bloom — and you’ll see a stunning display of pink clouds delicate petals. But don’t take our word for it; see for yourself in this photo, which was taken in 2013 near the location of the photo above:

The Quad in 2013 (Photo by Greg Flanders)

The Quad in 2013 (Photo by Greg Flanders)

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On campus: UW students find their “Voice”

Two student groups hosted the Voice of UW, a talent competition, earlier this year.

Two student groups hosted the Voice of UW, a talent competition, earlier this year.

When the “The Voice of China” – a Chinese off-shoot of the popular NBC reality talent show “The Voice” – debuted in 2012, some UW students saw the chance to showcase the talent on campus. That led members of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association and Taiwanese Overseas Student Association to create the Voice of UW, a month-long singing competition that culminated in a final competition in Kane Hall earlier this year. It  was one of several student-run events the UWAA is sponsoring this year. “We’re proud of our sponsorship,” said UWAA Executive Director Paul Rucker, ’95, ’02. “It’s part of our ongoing commitment to enhancing the student experience.”

Sixty students initially signed up for the Voice of UW competition; following the format of the TV show, they performed Chinese pop songs before four judges whose backs were turned. Sixteen students were invited to take part in the second round, which consisted of duets. The top eight finishers then competed in the final competition, which took place on Feb. 16 before 600 students in Kane Hall.

Vera Tao, a member of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association and one of the event organizers, said the Voice of UW created a sense of camaraderie between the audience and singers. “It’s not just a singing competition,” she said. “It’s more like a performance.”

All eight participants received $50; other prizes included coupons to EnKore Karaoke and iPod Shuffles. The winner, Jingyi Fan, also won a set of headphones. More than the prizes, though, the Voice of UW gave students a chance to have fun and share their talent in front of peers, Tao said. “Some of them, it’s the first time in their life singing in front of a lot of people.”

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On campus: Nursing students take pulse of employment opportunities

About 80 nursing students attended the Nursing Career Fair to get the inside track on careers earlier this year.

About 80 nursing students attended the Nursing Career Fair to get the inside track on careers earlier this year.

For roughly 80 nursing students, January’s Nursing Career Fair wasn’t just about finding a job in tough economic times; it was a key step on the path to a post-college career.

The annual event, which took place on Jan. 26, 2013 at UW Seattle’s South Campus Center, brought together nearly a dozen regional recruiters and employers, including Kindred Hospital, the UW Medical Center, and Harborview Medical Center. The UWAA sponsored the career fair. “We were proud to be part of such an exciting event,” said UWAA Executive Director Paul Rucker, ’95, ’02. “It’s great to see so many students getting a jumpstart on their careers.”

Those 10 employers offered advice for those seeking positions or residencies, responded to concerns about the job search process, and gave insight on the day-to-day workings of a hospital. “They were very open to questions and to give advice, and that brought down the barriers,” said Alina Palanchuk, president of the UW Professional Organization of Nursing Students and one of the event organizers.

Palanchuk, who will graduate in June with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, came to the event with some trepidation. “I wasn’t sure how to start looking for jobs,” she admitted.

So she found it refreshing to talk with employers about finding a job in pediatrics. They explained what skills and attributes are important for pediatric nurses, and encouraged her to talk to a manager about her aspirations. The one-on-one connections gave Palanchuk confidence and hope for the post-college career search. “That’s what the focus is on, and that’s the biggest concern for nursing students,” she said.

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In the Spotlight: John Castle and Creating a Company

John Castle

John Castle

Every year, Creating a Company, as the course is dubbed, becomes less a class than a crash course in entrepreneurship. Groups of eager students team up, form a company, apply for a $1,000-$2,000 loan from the Foster School of Business, and spend the next few months hawking their product or service to the wider world.

Past companies have sold goods ranging from Husky apparel to glass jars of cake mix; other companies have launched art galleries and driven students to the mountain passes for a day on the slopes. (Read below for photos and memories of some of the course’s most memorable products.)

At the heart of it all is lecturer John Castle, who has taught the class for the past 12 years – and who will retire at year’s end.

In 2001, Castle had stepped down as CEO from Cantametrix, a music software company he helped found, when a neighbor and former UW professor approached him about inheriting the Creating a Company course. With more than 40 years of business acumen, Castle didn’t lack experience: Before joining the UW, he had served as CEO of Hamilton-Thorn, a medical electronics and diagnostics company; cofounded Seragen, a biotechnology company; and was a partner in Washington Biotechnology Funding, a seed venture capital fund specializing in medical technologies.

Since then, he’s drawn on that extensive experience as would-be CEOS have created and developed dozens of companies. Castle’s only rule in approving companies and dispersing loans is “Do no harm,” meaning that students can’t, say, promote underage drinking by selling shot glasses to fraternities and sororities on campus. (This actually happened.)

When the class ends, students return any profits to the Foster School and can buy their company for $1 to keep it going. Few companies have outlived their academic years, but Castle knows the experience will remain long after grades are posted. “Whether or not they learn how to do it well, they will learn whether or not they want to start their own business.” Castle said. “This is as realistic of an experience of entrepreneurship as we can make it.”

Read on for a look back at some of the most memorable products and services offered by students during Castle’s tenure.

Read more…

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Capturing Grays Harbor history

This man, thought to be radio DJ Stan Spiegle, appears in the the newsreel footage that sheds a light on Grays Harbor County history.

This man, thought to be radio DJ Stan Spiegle, appears in the the newsreel footage that sheds a light on Grays Harbor County history.

We ran an article in the latest issue of Columns about a UW-produced documentary centering around newsreel footage that peeled back the curtain on life in 1920s Grays Harbor County.

“Grays Harbor Happenings” looks at life before the Great Depression in this bustling coastal town. The 45-minutes of film that inspired the documentary keeps the past alive on the Libraries Special Collections website, offering short clips of events big and small. Browse the collection for a few minutes, and you’ll see footage of a shipwreck, log-rolling contests, baseball games, an ice cream social, picnics and more.

The newsreel footage, originally shown before full-length feature films, depicts a sense of time and place that resonates nearly a century later, said Hannah Palin, film archives specialist with Libraries Special Collections. “You capture people, behavior, customs, and the environment, and it’s actually moving,” she said. “It helps our current experience if we can see how we were in the past.”

Each of the roughly 50 clips contains its own back story, and some of those stories are still being uncovered today.

Here are a few of the clips with unusual histories or notable stars, along with some background information, courtesy of Palin.

This unidentified man is thought to be local radio DJ Stan Spiegle

Palin believes that the stoic man on-screen from :24-:35 is Stan Spiegle, a  DJ with KXRO Radio in Grays Harbor County.

The radio station was owned at the time by Roy Olmstead, a famous Seattle-based bootlegger during Prohibition. Olmstead would play certain songs with the station’s radio broadcasts to signal boats that it was safe to smuggle bootlegged booze into Grays Harbor. “I don’t know how much Stan knew about this,” Palin admits. “There’s this funny tie with this little 20-second clip to a whole history of Prohibition.”

James M. Phillips, mayor of Aberdeen, address a crowd at what appears to be Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds

American Indian James M. Phillips moved from Pennsylvania to Aberdeen after college, where he launched an improbably successful political career. He began practicing law in 1907, was later elected mayor of Aberdeen, and went onto serve as a Superior Court Judge from 1929 to 1950. Phillips is thought to be the first American Indian to serve as a judge in the Washington state court system. “It obviously didn’t hinder his politics at all,” Palin said.

Mel Ingram and the Aberdeen Black Cats win the Timber League Pennant

Mel Ingram was a baseball player in the late 1920s with the Aberdeen Black Cats, part of the semi-professional Timber League. The team took its logo from a good luck charm posted at logging camps throughout the region, a nod to the town’s labor-friendly policies under Mayor James M. Phillips. Palin said that Ingram might have once shared the field with Babe Ruth when the legendary slugger played an exhibition game in Tacoma.

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Soulful singing transcends language barriers: Arts Dawg date night recap

Ana Moura dazzled the audience on Saturday. (Photo courtesy Isabel Pinto)

Ana Moura dazzled the audience on Saturday. (Photo courtesy Isabel Pinto)

One of my tasks as part of this series was to write honestly about the Arts Dawg experience as a date night idea. We in the UWAA naturally felt it would make a great date – Appetizers! Wine! The arts! – but my first two dates admitted that they wouldn’t have thought to attend dance productions or symphony performances on their own.

Thankfully, Ella Mae, my date on Saturday, couldn’t have been more excited to see Ana Moura.

We talked briefly about the Portuguese fado singer over coffee while escaping the Seattle rain and waiting for the pre-show reception. Ella Mae, also an occasional singer, had brushed up on Moura’s work beforehand and found herself entranced by Moura’s voice. “Smooth” became the descriptor of the night.

We shifted topics after a few minutes and spent much of the hour-long coffee date talking about travel. We shared our travel philosophies– “get lost” and “get off the beaten path” – talked about places we’d been – like the Philippines, New York, and New Orleans – and destinations we’d like to visit – basically “everywhere on Earth.”

We couldn’t go to Portugal on this night, so Moura brought a taste of the country to Seattle.

Moura is a young star in the storied fado scene, which started nearly 200 years ago as a genre similar to American blues music; it sprung out of poor and disenfranchised communities, and most song topics touched on loss, yearning, and heartbreak.

Those themes were evident on Saturday, as Moura performed one tear-jerking tune after another. She sung all but two songs in Portuguese, leaning heavily on her latest release “Desfado,” for the set’s material. Maybe Ella Mae and I were actually better off for not understanding Moura’s devastating lyrics; how awkward is it, after all, to spend a blind date listening to songs of failed romance, sorrow, and sadness?

Whether performing a folk-inspired number or traditional fado tune, Moura enchanted throughout her two-hour set. The Portuguese might have been lost on Ella Mae and I, but Moura’s voice – which could soar just as easily as it could crawl from note to melancholy note – kept us engaged throughout the night. Some feelings and emotions transcend language.

Two hours and one encore later, no one in the crowd was ready to call it a night. Nearly everyone stood and clapped along when Moura ditched the sorrowful tunes for more upbeat, fast-paced numbers. As Moura and her band took a bow and waved to the crowd, Ella Mae turned to me and shouted over the applause. “I loved that,” she said. “So smooth.”

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