The non-profit Northwest Film Forum is Seattle's one and only cinematheque. An organization approaching its tenth year of existence, NWFF moved to a new location at 1515 12th Ave on Capitol Hill at Pike. In addition to showing films year-round on two screens, NWFF's "WigglyWorld Studios" offers workshops ("world-class, hands-on instruction at aspiring artist prices"), equipment rentals and a variety of grants and sponsorships for filmmakers. NWFF also presents Seattle's biggest showcase for local filmmakers every fall with "Local Sightings," a weeklong festival for the best in NW film and video (entry is free and deadlines are usually midsummer). Movie tickets are usually (with occasional exceptions for live performances and special events) $8, $6 for seniors and children and $5 for members. Supporting membership (for discounts on movie tickets) is $35 per year, while WigglyWorld membership (discounts on movies as well as workshops and rentals) is $50 per year.
In its cinemas, NWFF focuses on world cinema, documentaries, American independents, experimental, children's/family fare, filmmaker retrospectives, visiting artists and classic films from the canon, as well as live theater and mixed media performances.
NWFF was founded as a 501(c)(3) in 1995 by filmmakers Jamie Hook and Deborah Girdwood as "WigglyWorld Studios." Working on a film of their own, Hook and Girdwood decided to donate the equipment and facilities purchased for that project to a "filmmaker's collective" that would benefit the entire city. Two year's later, the organization purchased the historic Grand Illusion Theatre in the University District and "Northwest Film Forum" was born. In 1999, NWFF began showing films at the aptly-named Little Theatre on Capitol Hill, followed by a gig curating the "Music + Film" series at Experience Music Project. In 2004, NWFF began building a new space to house all its operations under one roof in the former Seattle Academy building on 12th Ave. Constructed largely by volunteers and staff, the new space houses two cinemas, a dedicated workshop space, a book/video library (open to members), video and film editing facilities and all other NWFF/Wigglyworld operations, as well as the offices for the umbrella organization The Film Company, a non-profit film studio founded in 2004 that works with internationally-renowned filmmakers such as Guy Maddin and Amir Naderi, cross-disciplinary artists like John Kazanjian and Megan Murphy and local filmmakers like Lynn Shelton and William Weiss.
NWFF's "Start-to-Finish" grant, through which the organization assists in all levels of production, from fundraising to filming to exhibition, has received national attention in such publications as Filmmaker Magazine and Indiewire. The latest grant recipient, Robinson Devor's POLICE BEAT, premiered as one of only sixteen films in Dramatic Competition at Sundance 2005 and garnered rave reviews from The New York Times, the Village Voice, Film Comment, Cinema-Scope, Rolling Stone and others. A new Start-to-Finish grant recipient will be announced in Fall 2005.