(Socialist) Spring in the City at Northwest Film Forum

Red Renewal: Seattle's Socialist Spring brings political action to the big screen.

By Josh Feit March 19, 2014

Red Renewal: Seattle's Socialist Spring brings political action to Northwest Film Forum.

The Northwest Film Forum, the city's Mecca of indie movie programming, is bringing a batch of ultra left-wing films to the screen to celebrate (and speculate) about Seattle's recent shift to the left.

Is it conceivable that Seattle—paradise of plastic bag bans, mandatory paid sick leave, mandatory composting, and civil liberties for backyard goat herding—could actually move any further to the left? Oh yes. In case you missed it, we elected socialist Kshama Sawant to the city council late last year, and we're currently on the cusp of raising the minimum wage, Sawant's campaign pledge.

To explore Seattle's deep dive into Socialism, NWFF is hosting Red Renewal: Seattle's Socialist Spring, ten nights (starting this Friday, March 21) where radical politics hit the screen— earnestly with Salt of the Earth, comically (and sexually) with W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism, and critically with The Raspberry Reich—all screening in this intriguing lineup of academic cinema. The most provocative pick for Seattle filmgoers might be 2001's Jari Mari: Of Cloth and Other Stories about exploited sweat shop workers in the slums of Mumbai, which looks at the flip side of the dialectic for those of us who think cities are getting it right.

NWFF wanted to get PubliCola involved, so I was asked to program a night for the series (which will happen Wednesday, April 9). Rather than showing one movie, I'm going to discuss several movies that each reflect on a different aspect of political urbanism, the brand of politics, that, in my opinion currently offers the most radical and relevant challenge to status quo.

The movies, such as Fight Club and the Blackborad Jungle, touch on themes like urban transportation, mutliculturalism, networks, and youth culture. The finale of my talk features a flick, Hackers, that ties all these urbanist themes together in one exciting, action-packed example of city cinema.

Here's how I described the night to the folks at NWFF: It's a tour through movies where urbanism—particularly the electric youth culture of city life—is as radical and subversive as Marxism and Anarchism. Agit-prop teens translate music into politics and tech smarts into transgression, upending the government and corporate status quo, in this collection of urban-themed films. Multiculturalism, mass transit and the kismet of streets (all fixed features of cities) also factor in to the revolution at hand.

Red Renewal: Seattle's Socalist Spring
Mar 21–May 1, Northwest Film Forum, $8

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