Shifting SIFF

May 17, 2018

This year's edition of the Seattle International Film Festival features more than four hundred films from ninety different countries. It's the largest film festival in the U.S.—and nearly half of the films featured this year were made by women. This is a big deal when compared with the lineups from most every other festival out there, including the SIFF numbers from just a few years ago. What are the organizers at SIFF doing differently? Seattleland sits down with executive director Sarah Wilke and artistic director Beth Barrett to find out. We talk about gender, representation, and power in Hollywood and how much of SIFF's new look is intentional and how much is simply a reflection of an industry that, for a number of reasons, is seeing more work from women come to the big screen. 

Music by Leeni RamadanJesse SpillaneBOPDMystery Mammal, and Kevin MacLeod.

This week's cover photo was taken by Amy Kowalenko and is courtesy of SIFF.

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Secret Agent Man

April 12, 2018

At the end of March, following the poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in England, the Trump administration expelled 60 Russian diplomats from the U.S. and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle. White House officials said that these weren't necessarily diplomats, though. More likely, they were spies. Seattle resident Naveed Jamali, whose experience working as a double agent for the FBI and Russian intelligence prompted his memoir, How to Catch a Russian Spy, agrees. Although the Cold War ended a few decades ago, he says Russia still views the U.S. as enemy number one.  This week, in the final episode of Season One of Seattleland, we catch up with Naveed to get the inside scoop on how spy movies and TV shows can become real life—seriously, Naveed lived it all, from clandestine meetings to Hollywood-style showdowns—and why Russian espionage might have a nexus in Seattle.

Music by Leeni RamadanBOPD, and Jahzzar

This week's cover photo is an image of the Samuel Hyde mansion in Seattle, home of the Russian Consul General since the 1990s. Photo obtained via Wikimedia Commons. 

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The Backlog

March 29, 2018

The cities throughout the Puget Sound region are home to Amazon, Microsoft, and tons of other tech companies—many of which hire a significant number of their employees on H1B visas. These are temporary work permits designed for foreign workers with specific kinds of skills and expertise. In recent years, a vast majority of those workers have come from India. And when they and their employers apply for permanent residency—something that's legally required after six years on an H1B—that's when they run into problems. Workers and the companies that hire them are insistent that the system needs to change. Their critics, meanwhile, argue that H1B holders are taking jobs away from Americans and that the current system is more than fair. This week, Seattle Weekly staff writer Melissa Hellmann and H1B visa holder Lokesh Marenayakanapalya discuss the gigantic green card backlog for Indians and the impact it is having on the lives and families of thousands of our area's tech workers. 

Featuring interviews with Melissa Hellmann and Lokesh Marenayakanapalya; performance by Mark Siano.

Music by Leeni Ramadan, Jahzzar, and The Insider

This week's cover photo is courtesy GC Reforms and was taken in downtown Bellevue during a rally in late February.

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Boarders vs. Bureaucracy

March 22, 2018

Skateboarding continues to grow in popularity in the Pacific Northwest. But it’s still difficult for skateboarders to find a good, safe place to get together and do their thing. Rain is a big problem, and covered skate parks are few and far between. Recently, a group of skaters in Renton took matters into their own hands and, using 50,000 pounds of cement, built a park under a freeway overpass. This was, of course, illegal. The Washington Department of Transportation threatened to tear it down last fall, but a crowd of skaters from across the region showed up to defend it. Renton Reporter staff writer Leah Abraham set off to figure out just why one park could mean so much to so many people—and discovered a whole world in the process.

Featuring interviews with Leah Abraham, Jack Skeel, Kristin Ebeling, Marshall Reid, and David Waite. 

Music by Leeni Ramadan and Jahzzar

This week's cover photo is a shot of Longacres Skate Park, taken by Leah Abraham for the Renton Reporter in late November 2017. 

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Black Lives Matter Meets #MeToo

March 15, 2018

The Black Lives Matter movement has been active in the Seattle area for more than four years. But it wasn't until this past December that a trio of activists created the first official BLM chapter in the region, Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County (BLMSKC). The catalyst for this, organizers say, was the harassment and abuse that some male BLM leaders had allegedly been exacting on women and gender non-conforming members of the movement. In this week's episode, South Seattle Emerald editor and Seattle Weekly columnist Marcus Harrison Green talks about Black Lives Matter's #MeToo momentand how the fight for one kind of justice can sometimes overshadow other injustices. As the nation grapples with revelation after revelation of sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination in the workplace, Green discusses a history of the same thing happening within social movements. 

Music by Leeni Ramadan, Kai Engel, and Grapes

This week's cover photo was taken by Naomi Ishisaka during a 2015 Black Womxn's Lives Matter memorial gathering.

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The Matriarch of Marijuana

March 8, 2018

Everyone knows that Washington was one of the first states to legalize marijuana—medicinal in 1998 and recreational in 2012. But few know the story of the small, tight-knit community that fought the battles for patients' rights that eventually opened the door to recreational cannabis. Those who do know will tell you that none of it would have happened without JoAnna McKee, who passed away in late 2017. In this episode, we meet some of the people who knew and loved JoAnna; hear about her role in the first-ever federal raid on a medical cannabis dispensary in the country; and pause to reflect on the legacy of a person whose life's work won't be forgotten, especially with new leaders at the federal level who are attempting to turn back the clock on cannabis policy. 

Featuring interviews with Meagan Angus, Dale Rogers, Douglas Hiatt, and Stich Miller.

Music by Leeni Ramadan, Jahzzar, Josh Woodward, and Doctor Turtle

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A Hardwood Classic

March 1, 2018

In this mini episode, we introduce you to the editorial director for the show, Mark Baumgarten, who is really into basketball. He plays in a pick-up league on Monday nights and on Tuesday nights in winter he and some buddies go to high school basketball games. It's cheap, he says, and really good! So good, in fact, that after one dramatic game this season, he was inspired to write a poem about it. Since this weekend is the Washington state high school basketball tournament, aka the Hardwood Classic, we decided we would share it.

Music by Leeni Ramadan

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Inslee and Outrage

February 22, 2018

It became abundantly clear on Nov. 8, 2016 that Seattle is not a big fan of President Trump. Only 8 percent of the city's votes went to him on election day. In King County, the number jumped to about 20 percent, but still: That’s a landslide of opposition. Activists and politicians from across Western Washington bellowed their outrage for the next … um, well, it’s still happening. And Governor Jay Inslee is among them. This week, Seattleland catches up with Inslee to process a tumultuous, anger-filled year, during which the Trump administration issued order after order that the governor vehemently disagrees with.

Music by Leeni Ramadan, Jahzzar, and Lee Rosevere

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What’s in a Game?

February 15, 2018

Seattle has a little-known claim to fame: It is one of the pinball capitals of the world. Competitive pinball tournaments are a nightly occurrence here—and a lot of the players are internationally ranked. But for a very long time, most of those players were men. Host Sara Bernard heads down to Add-A-Ball arcade in Fremont, lets the plunger fly, and introduces us to a growing cadre of badass women who are taking over a game that was, once upon a time, against the law. 

Featuring interviews with Maureen Hendrix, Kelsie Sherman-Hall,  Zac Petersen, Lauren Aquino, and Kayla Greet.

Music by The Shrugs and Leeni Ramadan

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The Other Robert E. Lee

February 8, 2018
After white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, protested the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in August 2017, some residents of Kent, Washington noticed that their police department was located inside the Robert E. Lee Memorial Building. Wait... what? In part two of our What's in a Name series, we explore the origins of the building's name and discover a man who, to the people of Kent anyway, managed to overshadow the legacy of his namesake.
 
Featuring interviews with Vicki Lee Schmitz, former Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke (she retired at the end of 2017), Kent City Councilmember Brenda Fincher, and Kent City Council President Bill Boyce.
 
Music by Leeni Ramadan and Kai Engel
 
This week's cover photo features Vicki Lee Schmitz standing next to the building that is named after her father, Robert E. Lee. It was taken by Steve Hunter of the Kent Reporter, who first reported this story last August.
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