Years ago a woman I knew, who lived in a hotel her family owned, was notified that a piece of hers was going to be shown at a film festival she had never heard of. It turned out to be a small, student-run event at a college. Upon discovering this information, she figured she could run her own festival and do it right at the hotel. She was going to call it the Schmegegge Film Festival.
The Schmegegge Film Festival never happened, but Dustin Kaspar has just completed the 1st Kaspar's Kouch Film Festival, held in the living-room of his Lake City apartment. Over a series of six nights he showed eighteen films, mostly DVDs from his personal collection. True, most of the films are easily available from Blockbuster or Scarecrow, but they were accompanied by an assortment of snacks, a pasta dinner, a frosty mug of beer and homemade ice cream. Oh, and the air conditioning was neither too high nor too low. Needless to say, you won't find these amenities at the Harvard Exit or the Egyptian.
However, in true festival fashion, Kaspar's Kouch featured a program, a poster, a t-shirt and, most importantly, an opening night event at 911 Media Arts Center that featured screenings of locally made films by Wes Kim, Thom Harp and 33 Fainting Spells.
Kaspar, a choral music educator and tenor vocalist [who can be currently heard performing in the chorus of Gotterdammerung at The Seattle Opera], initially conceived of the festival as a way to gather friends from out of town to see films at his place, but quickly decided to take the idea public. A friend suggested he have an opening night party and Kaspar began selecting the films by going through the Spawned in Seattle section of this year's SIFF program and contacting the filmmakers directly.
On the night I attended the films were the 1949 Gun Crazy, The Taking of Pelham 123 and Battle Royale. True to the name of the festival there was a couch, indeed, a matching pair in black velveteen. The attendees were Kaspar, Kaspar's sister, her boyfriend Dan, who designed the festival logo, and other assorted friends and guests of the festival director. The film introductions were brisk, the popcorn was fresh and the featured ice cream flavor was avocado, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Kaspar has ordered a video projection system and plans on holding non-festival screenings throughout the year. It may be some time before he gives Cinema Seattle any serious competition, but I look forward to attending the 2nd Annual KKF.