By Andrew Hamlin
Northwest Asian Weekly
The Seattle Cinerama Theater, owned and operated by Paul Allen, presents its first-ever martial arts film festival, “Fists & Fury,” from February 27 to March 5th, featuring, amongst other attractions, several films from Seattle legend Bruce Lee. Greg Wood, the Cinerama’s Director of Operations, took some questions over email.
NWAW: What about the Cinerama would surprise the average moviegoer the most?
Greg Wood: Although Cinerama has the most advanced new technology available, it also maintains state-of-the-art equipment for showing movies in all formats, including classic 35mm, 70mm, and original 3-strip Cinerama films.
Many of the Fists & Fury movies will be digitally screened using Cinerama’s Christie 6P laser projector, which is the first to be installed in a commercial theater. Featuring a scalable laser light source and dual-head system design, the projector achieves the best resolution, color and brightness levels on the largest premium screens. Additional titles will be screened using Digital Cinema Package (DCP) technology, which is a rare, high-quality option for many of Fist & Fury’s vintage titles. Cinerama will also screen approximately eight 35mm film prints including the 2009 restorations of “Rashomon” and “The Seven Samurai” by legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa.
NWAW: How did the idea for a martial arts festival come about? Who first proposed it?
Greg Wood: The Cinerama team is always thinking of new ways to engage the community through unique programming. Fists & Fury was born of Paul G. Allen’s love for the mixed martial arts genre and the Cinerama team spent many months accessing rare titles and partnering with organizations like the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, which is currently housing an exhibition focused on the life of Bruce Lee, entitled “Do You Know Bruce?
NWAW: Can you give us an overview of the festival, focusing on the most crucial titles?
Greg Wood: Twenty mixed martial arts and samurai movies, including some rare titles, will be shown beginning Friday, February 27, to Thursday, March 5.
Fists & Fury’s programming includes an eclectic mix of films such as Bruce Lee’s “Enter the Dragon,” “The Chinese Connection,” “Way of the Dragon” and “Game of Death.” Cinerama will screen approximately eight 35mm film prints including the 2009 restorations of “Rashomon” and “The Seven Samurai.” The festival will also screen more recent films like “Ip Man,” which was nominated for 12 Hong Kong Film Awards in 2008, and “Kung Fu Hustle.” Most of the titles will be shown in the language of origin with English subtitles.
NWAW: The obvious reference points are the Akira Kurosawa samurai classics, and the Bruce Lee films. How did the committee decide which of these to include?
Greg Wood: We knew we wanted to include Bruce Lee films, and the ones we selected were contingent on availability. “Enter The Dragon” has commonly played in the US, but finding the other Bruce Lee films was extremely difficult. Similarly, the Kurosawa titles were chosen based on popularity and availability. Some of the film prints were not in good condition, so that was another aspect to take into consideration. We’re very proud to be able to screen films that are more difficult to access.
NWAW: Which are the most obscure films in the series, and how were they chosen?
Greg Wood: By far, the most obscure—and difficult to find—titles were the Bruce Lee movies out of Hong Kong. Many of the rights holders were hard to track down.
NWAW: Which films are your personal favorites, and why?
Greg Wood: I’m a huge fan of “Kung Fu Hustle.” It’s a fantastic movie and it represents the genre so well, while still being a bit more modern. I’d also be remiss not to mention the Bruce Lee films because of course, he’s a legend!
NWAW: Any plans to do more series like this in the future?
Greg Wood: This is our first run at a festival like this, but we’re very excited for it and have received great feedback from the community. We’re not sure what the future will hold yet, but we know it will definitely include more original programming. (end)
For a full schedule of the “Fists & Fury” festival, visit http://www.cinerama.com.
Andrew Hamlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.