Thursday, February 1, 2024

Noir City Festival: Darkness Has No Borders at SIFF Cinema: Feb 16 - 22

This year's edition of the annual festival titled, Noir City: Darkness Has No Borders, finds Eddie Muller and the Film Noir Foundation returning once again to Seattle's historic Egyptian Theatre. This marks the third installment since returning from a pandemic hiatus with the Noir City: 15th Anniversary Edition, and Noir City: Dark City in 2022, the latter inspired by Muller's bestselling book "Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir". At the time of the newly expanded publishing of the book, Muller spoke with NPR's Terry Gross, plumbing the genre's "Celebration of Cinema's Double Crosses and Doomed Characters" that populate "The Lost World of Film Noir". Previous to the hiatus, the festival presented Noir City: International Edition II, which continued the programming last seen in the first of the Noir City: International Editions, with geographically framed sets and quartets of films originating from far flung corners of the world. Earlier editions such as the Noir City: Film Noir in The 1950s program which tracked the beginning of the decline of the American studio system, and into a fresh cinematic landscape where the genre was to be refashioned, both subtly and radically, for a new generation. Other iterations have been formatted in a Film Noir from A to B presentation involving "A" and "B" film double bills, in both low budget and high production value features. On other occasions, the program has been focused thematically, such as the year that featured Noir City: The Big Knockover - Heists, Holdups and Schemes Gone Awry. Outside of the annual festival, in 2017 Muller took up permanent residence on TCM with the launch of his Saturday night Noir Alley showcase. Now in its fifth year, his show has become a central component of how "Turner Classic Movies Is Changing. And Trying to Stay the Same", yet the venerable platform has been under fire from its larger corporate umbrella. Last year, Warner Brothers Discovery gutted the leadership team of Turner Classic Movies, following which, a group of famed directors then came together to "Fight to Save Turner Classic Movies". This resulted in a surprising reversal, in which, "TCM to Include Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Paul Thomas Anderson Taking Active Role". Muller's weekly selections and introductions on Noir Alley act as more than just a showcase for the Film Noir Foundation and their partners at The UCLA Film & Television Archive, but instead a global overview of the social concerns, look, sound, aesthetic, and feel that define the Dark Passages of film noir. This year's touring festival presents a lineup of 18 films in Seattle, thematically framed in a statement from the Film Noir Foundation; "In a move taken in opposition to the nation's current wave of anti-immigrant sentiment, the venerable Noir City film festival has declared "Darkness Has No Borders". The weeklong festival will feature a dozen thematically linked double bills, pairing foreign language films with movies made in the United States and United Kingdom".