A little Hollywood for the holidays

Capitol Hill shoppers can add a little Hollywood glitz to their holiday gifts, courtesy of the Seattle International Film Festival. Savvy movie shoppers have two opportunities this weekend to add a little SIFF under the tree: the Holiday Sale on Saturday, Dec. 3, and the Poster Auction on Sunday, Dec. 4.

At the Saturday event, SIFF is cleaning out their closets and placing the swag on sale at the Broadway Performance Hall. Included in the SIFF Holiday Sale are mugs, T-shirts, promotional items and many, many movie posters.

"There's film festival posters, posters of films sent to us, and some that go way back-films that played at the Egyptian during the off-season. Some of these posters are ancient. There are fun things to be found," said Gary Tucker, SIFF's director of marketing and development.

To encourage people to get creative with their posters, SIFF is offering "mystery" rolls of posters at the Holiday Sale.

"We're bundling them up and selling them as wrapping paper," said Tucker. "I've been involved with the film festival since the 1980s and I've been using old posters for years as wrapping paper. People always said that I had the most unique wrapping paper and I thought why not do that here, why not let everybody do that! Five dollars for five posters, and I'll guarantee that they won't be obscene, they won't be damaged or torn, and they will be something that you can use as wrapping paper."

Or, Tucker said, you can use them to decorate your home. Besides wrapping gifts in posters, Tucker has collected a number of posters during his years volunteering or working at SIFF. "I've got ones in my closet that I want to keep," he said. "One of these days, I'll have a mansion and put them all up or sell them to pay for three weeks in my retirement home. I had friend who was making a movie and I went through my collection and sent some down to her to decorate her set."

So whether you want wallpaper or wrapping paper, Tucker suggested coming early to the sale and grabbing some mystery bundles to take home.

"It's a casual sale, it will be for three hours, we'll have croissants," said Tucker. "As much as we can load into the van, we'll have at the Holiday Sale. I'm really interested in seeing how the wrapping paper extravaganza goes. Five sheets of movie posters is a lot of coverage for the money."

For those seeking more collectible posters or big ticket gifts, SIFF also is moving their traditional European movie poster auction to December.

The poster auction will take place on Dec. 3 at the Central Cinema, 1411 Union Ave.

"This is our first event at Central Cinema, the only dinner-and-movie place in town," said Tucker. "It has its own great sensibility."

The change of date from June to December also makes sense, said Tucker. Traditionally falling on the last day of SIFF, the poster auction often got lost amid all the other events surrounding the festival.

So, when SIFF artistic director Carl Spence picked up a number of posters in Europe after the festival was over, the powers-that-be at SIFF decided to do a second auction this year in December.

"We have enough to do the auction already and we decided to take it completely out of the festival. The plan is that we will stay with December from this point on," said Tucker. "We've been doing more year-round programming-this was a nice event to take out of the festival and we have this quirky 1940s film to show with it."

Robert Siodmak's "Chrismas Holiday," starring Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly, will play after the poster auction.

"Kudos to Carl for finding this!" said Tucker. "It's called "Christmas Holiday," but it is not Santa and light. It's a true film noir."

The movie is no longer available in the United States, but Spence managed to find a DVD copy in England. "We tried to find something a little bit different," said Tucker, "and we found something way different. It's not the standard holiday thing."

The screenplay was written by Herman Mankiewicz and the film shares some of the labyrinthine quality of his "Citizen Kane" screenplay, said Tucker. The use of Kelly and Durbin, best known for their musical comedy roles, also shocked 1940s audiences. Durbin, a teenage singing star whose popularity rivaled Judy Garland's at that time, plays a nightclub floozy while Kelly is the killer who captures her heart. "Durbin said later that it was the only film of hers that she was proud of, because she got to play a serious role rather than a little songbird," said Tucker.

Posters offered at the auction before the screening will include many collectors' items from Europe, ranging from an original French "Blanche-Neige et les Sept Nains (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves)" to a Polish "Popeye."

"One of the things that are really nice about this year's posters, there are more of the smaller ones-smaller than American, about 2 feet by 3 feet. These are much more manageable than some of the huge French posters [offered in auctions past], they're ready to hang, and you won't have to worry about whether you have a wall that big," said Tucker. For those who like huge, there is a Charlie Chaplin and a French "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" in the larger sizes, added Tucker.

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The SIFF Holiday Sale will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Broadway Performance Hall, 1625 Broadway, Saturday, Dec. 3. Admission is free.

Admission to the SIFF Poster Auction and Screening is $10 for SIFF members and $12 for non-members and includes complimentary champagne and hors d'oeuvres as well as the auction and "Christmas Holiday" screening. The Central Cinema is located at 21st Ave. and Union St.

Tickets for the poster auction are available through the SIFF website, www.seattlefilm.org, or by calling 464-5830. The Poster Auction preview begins at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 4.

Rosemary Jones writes about arts and entertainment for the Capitol Hill Times. She can be reached at editor@capitolhilltimes.com or 461-1308.

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