Artists Speak Up

The Capitol Hill Arts District is a coalition of arts advocates galvanized to keep Capitol Hill a thriving art scene invested in the creation of daring work, independent artists, and emerging ideas. We promote cultural engagement; harness resources; and preserve, enhance, and create space for artists and the arts.
We also acknowledge that we are guests on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. In recognition of the role of the arts as a vehicle for social change, we stand in alignment with the Office of Arts & Culture’s commitment to mobilizing the “arts as a strategy to drive…the City as a whole toward racial equity and social justice.”
Each person and organization on the Capitol Hill Arts District is committed to undoing systems of oppression in our work and lives. To live these values, we are committed to building coalitions across lines of difference, progressive causes, and professional fields to make Capitol Hill a safe and accessible space for all artists and community members.
To accomplish this work, we commit to open dialog with community and dedicated action that fosters and protects a community that is truly equitable. Individuals and organizations are living this commitment each day, through their equity statements, space access services, and missions.
We believe in creating and promoting a vision of the world built on the following values:

  Risk Taking
Michael Seiwerath, Capitol Hill Housing, Co-chair
  Tonya Lockyer, Velocity Dance Center, Co-chair
Jeanine Anderson, Capitol Hill Art Walk
  Mary Bacarella & Esme DeCoster, SAAS
Yonnas T Getahun, 12toRain Productions
  Tara Hardy, Gay City
Jason Lajeunesse, Capitol Hill Block Party, Neumos
  Jennifer Lobsenz, Path with Art
Brian McGuigan, Artist Trust
  Pamala Mijatov, Annex Theater / Seattle Fringe Festival
Terry Novak, Photo Center Northwest
  Jason Plourde, Three Dollar Bill Cinema
Tracy Rector, Longhouse Media
  Matthew Richter, City of Seattle
Rik Deskin, Eclectic Theater
  Courtney Sheehan, Northwest Film Forum
Tree Swenson, Richard Hugo House
  Julie Tall, Capitol Cider
Jena Thornton, Eagle Rock Ventures
  Chris Weber, One Reel

Northwest Film Forum to Receive $35,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $30 million in grants as part of the NEA’s first major funding announcement for fiscal year 2017.  Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $35,000 to Northwest Film Forum to support the exhibition of independent films. The Art Works category focuses on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts.
“The arts are for all of us, and by supporting organizations such as Northwest Film Forum, the National Endowment for the Arts is providing more opportunities for the public to engage with the arts,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Whether in a theater, a town square, a museum, or a hospital, the arts are everywhere and make our lives richer.”
“The NEA’s support is vital for the presentation of independent films that would not otherwise be screened in Seattle” said NWFF Executive Director Courtney Sheehan. “From ByDesign, our annual series of architecture and design films, to Indigenous Showcase, our decade-long series of indigenous films co-presented with Tracy Rector, Northwest Film Forum is proud to exhibit some of the most distinctive film programming in the country.”
Each year, Northwest Film Forum premieres hundreds of short and feature films and hosts dozens of filmmakers and visiting artists in Seattle. Granted funds from the NEA also support collaborative projects and new partnerships that foster cross-disciplinary creation and artistic discovery, such as Citizen Minutes, a community video project that pairs local filmmakers with community members and groups to make short videos about the city. Northwest Film Forum’s exhibition programs and artist services foster an environment for artistic excellence, engaging filmmakers, artists, musicians and diverse constituents with opportunities to discuss topics of interest, develop professional skills, and build community through the arts. 
For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit
Photo credit: Lauren Rodriguez

Cue Northwest Puget Soundtrack Residency Announced

Seattle-based band Zen Mother (Wolcott Smith and Monika Khot) have been selected for the Puget Soundtrack Residency, a Cue Northwest project produced in partnership by Brick Lane Records and Northwest Film Forum. The musicians will receive a $2,000 honorarium to create and perform a live score for Holy Mountain in 2017. A panel of judges including Erik Blood (musician/producer), Sharlese Metcalf (KEXP), Kelton Sears (Seattle Weekly) and Susan Maughlin Wood (Seattle Composers Alliance) selected Zen Mother from an applicant pool of 40 Northwest musicians. 
"Congratulations to Zen Mother, our new Cue Northwest Musician in Residence!" said Brick Lane Records founder Kirt Debique. "It's an honor to participate in such a vibrant community, bringing together talented creatives in film and music. I look forward to Zen Mother's score for Holy Mountain, and would like to thank all the participants and judges in the music residency selection process."
Zen Mother said of their score, "When the 4th wall is broken, we will help it fall. When the imagery begs confusion, we will provide chaos. When comfort and solace is provoked, we will soothe you."
The world premiere of the Puget Soundtrack will be held at Northwest Film Forum in 2017. "Puget Soundtrack is one of our most popular and artistically daring programs, and we could not be more excited to see what Zen Mother brings to Holy Mountain," said NWFF Executive Director Courtney Sheehan.
Cue Northwest judge Sharlese Metcalf said, "Zen Mother are wonderful composers! Their sounds will make for a new listening perspective of this cult film that has deep meaning to a lot of people."
Past projects of Cue Northwest include a film residency awarded to animator Neely Goniodsky. She created a film using music from the Benjamin Verdoes record, The One & The Other. The animated film premiered at the 19th Local Sightings Film Festival in September 2016. 
Brick Lane Records partnered with Northwest Film to launch Cue Northwest, a series of projects that build connections between the independent film and music communities in Seattle and the Northwest, including production residencies and networking events. 
About Zen Mother
Zen Mother is the hive mind of Wolcott Smith and Monika Khot. They formed the project after trading avant-garde secrets, and quickly decided to weave those secrets together into a heavy, electronic-rock based duo. The music is dynamic in nature, lending itself to sonic focus and harnessing control of the mind. Industrial harshness is paired with ambient beauty all alongside the ever-pervasive feeling of torment. Influences include This Heat, Igor Wakhevitch, Blonde Redhead, and Swans. Dave Segal of The Stranger writes " can hear ZM striving for those great musicians’ sonic manifestations of baroque, angular torment in its most exquisite forms."
Brick Lane Records is a collective of creative, like-minded artists, who push one another to create honest and bold work. The label is based in Seattle, Washington and was founded by Kirt Debique.
Cue Northwest is a partnership between Brick Lane Records and Northwest Film Forum. We believe connecting artists across disciplines creates a fertile environment for building community through art. Through a series of collaborative projects including production residencies and networking events, Cue Northwest will galvanize the film and music communities.



Announcing the Space Access service!

Northwest Film Forum announces a new Space Access service that makes multiple rooms in our Capitol Hill venue available at no cost every Thursday. The service is intended for independent artists and grassroots community groups. 
We know anecdotally and from recent neighborhood surveys that access to affordable space is a pressing need for artists and community groups in Capitol Hill. This new service makes NWFF space available in one-hour slots on Thursdays from 11am to 4pm. The theaters, workshop room, and edit lab are available to artists who need space to practice or plan, and to community groups for meetings.   
We offer the Space Access service as an act of solidarity with under-served and marginalized members of the community, including people of color, women, immigrants, people who are LGBTQIA, disabled, from low income households, etc. 
We believe that it is our responsibility as an arts organization to make our institutional assets and resources available for people to mobilize against hate, organize social movements, and create art that drives social change.
This is a pilot service / community experiment. We welcome feedback along the way. Find out more and send space requests here.
If you would like to rent the venue for a ticketed or public event, film screening, or corporate meeting, please see our rates and send an inquiry here.

August Renovations Announcement



August 22, 2016: Update 

Northwest Film Forum continues to remodel our venue to improve your experience in our venue. The theater opens again on August 24th for Wedding Doll at 8pm with limited concessions as we continue to install the new box office counter. 

Renovations include expanding the lobby, building a new box office, launching faster POS stations, installing sound-proofed doors in the cinemas, and making improvements to the exterior of the building in preparation for a new awning in the fall. 

  • Equipment rental, venue rental, and the edit suite remain on break. Take this short survey to help us improve these services. 
  • Please check the website calendar for up-to-date showtimes.  

Please refer to this page for further updates. We thank you for your patience during the renovations period. We can't wait to unveil the new and improved Film Forum!

Check our Facebook for photos and video of the remodeling in progress!

Renovations made possible with support from 4Culture, the Office of Arts & Culture, and the Garneau-Nicon Family Foundation 

Erin Jorgensen performing her score for Daisies. Photo credit: Dylan Ward

Cue Northwest Music Residency

Northwest Film Forum and Brick Lane Records are pleased to announce the Cue Northwest Music Residency. One Northwest band or musician will be selected to develop a Puget Soundtrack (live score) for The Holy Mountain, to be performed at Northwest Film Forum in 2017. The selected band will receive $2,000, access to professional mentors, rehearsal time at the Film Forum, and a recording of the performance.
The streaming submissions will be reviewed by a panel of judges: Sharlese Metcalf (KEXP/False Prophet/DJ), Erik Blood (musician/producer), Kelton Sears (Seattle Weekly music editor), and Susan Maughlin Wood (Seattle Composers Alliance).
To submit: email your streaming link (Bandcamp or Soundcloud preferred) to [email protected]. If you prefer to submit physical media, email [email protected].
The call for links closes September 2nd!
The judges will review the music submitted and select candidates for a second round of submissions. In this round, the smaller pool of applicants will be asked to score two short scenes from the film (one to be selected by the Cue Northwest team, another by the musician). The judges will review the score submissions and make a final selection for the residency. The winning musician will have a minimum of six months to develop the score, and will perform it at Northwest Film Forum in 2017.
Puget Soundtrack is a series of live score commissions presented by Northwest Film Forum. Past editions have been performed by: Kingdom of the Holy Sun, Vox Mod, Cabana, Cock & Swan, Newaxeyes, Tim Held and Dave West, Ahamefule Oluo, Madeleine Cocolas, Lori Goldston, Ecstatic Cosmic Union, Erin Jorgensen, Lazer Kitty and Fungal Abyss.

Vote for the next Puget Soundtrack film!

Northwest Film Forum and Brick Lane Records are offering a $2,000 residency for a Northwest band/musician to develop a Puget Soundtrack (live score) for a film. For this special edition of the Forum’s popular live score series, the film will be selected by YOU, the voting public! Once the winning film is determined through a public vote, musicians will be invited to submit their music for consideration for the residency.

The vote is between the following films:

  • Belladonna of Sadness
  • La Haîne
  • Wizards
  • Eraserhead
  • Holy Mountain

Judges for the music residency: Sharlese Metcalf (KEXP/DJ), Erik Blood (Musician/Producer), Kelton Sears (Music Editor for Seattle Weekly), Susan Maughlin Wood (Seattle Composers Alliance)

Watch this video to find out more about the film choices, then vote! Voting closes July 28.

CLICK HERE when you're ready to vote!

This project is part of Cue Northwest, a partnership between Northwest Film Forum and Brick Lane Records.

Puget Soundtrack is a series of live score commissions presented by Northwest Film Forum. Past editions have been performed by: Kingdom of the Holy Sun, Vox Mod, Cabana, Cock & Swan, Newaxeyes, Tim Held and Dave West, Ahamefule Oluo, Madeleine Cocolas, Lori Goldston, Ecstatic Cosmic Union, Erin Jorgensen. Upcoming Puget Soundtracks include Lazer Kitty and Fungal Abyss.

More info about Puget Soundtrack

More info about Cue Northwest


Northwest Film Forum Announces New Executive Director


Signaling commitment to the fresh energy Courtney Sheehan has infused into Northwest Film Forum as Artistic Director, the Board of Directors announces Sheehan as the new Executive Director of Seattle’s most comprehensive film arts organization. Over the last two and a half years, as Program Director and then as Artistic Director, Sheehan increased box office and ramped up audience engagement through compelling curation, partnerships and live events. As Executive Director, she will guide vision and strategy by overseeing artistic programs and services, operations, finances, and fundraising activities.

Board President, Peter J. Vogt credits Sheehan for her shrewd understanding of the shifting sands beneath arts nonprofits and movie theaters. "In a time when people can pipe whatever programming they want into their home theaters, a film arts organization needs to rethink its value to the community. Courtney is really good at building relationships, understanding the importance of new ideas, and celebrating the kind of art that draws people together."
The Film Forum’s revitalized vision has turned around a box office in decline with an eclectic mix of 500 film screenings, 50 public conversations and industry events, 50 visiting filmmakers, 20 live film scores and 5 multidisciplinary live show commissions since Sheehan came on board. The organization has also donated hundreds of hours of venue space and staff time to community groups across the city. In 2015, Sheehan produced the Frye Art Museum’s Genius Film Festival and was named one of ten “Artists of the Year” by City Arts. 
At the national art house theater conference before Sundance, keynote speaker Emily Best (Seed & Spark) remarked: “[Sheehan] is much more than a curator; she acts as a facilitator – allowing community leaders of all kinds bring in their audiences to watch and discuss what really matters to them."
Recent program partnerships include KEXP, Civilization, Fandor, Brick Lane Records, the University of Washington, the Seattle Documentary Association, and the Social Justice Fund, among many others. In March, the Film Forum and Brick Lane Records awarded animator Neely Goniodsky a $5,000 production grant as part of Cue Northwest, a project that connects local filmmakers and musicians. Guest programmer Gina Basso (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) is programming a summer slate of new and archival films, and choreographer Paige Barnes presents the world premiere of PALMS in July.
“I have been so driven by the creative freedom to pursue bold projects and collaborate with our city’s inspiring hive mind of thinkers, makers, and doers,” Sheehan said. “Discovering great, new independent films has always been our mission, and today we are discovering new ways to connect people through a range of media arts. My goal as Executive Director is to realize Northwest Film Forum’s momentous potential as a critically needed space for equitable access to art.”
As the Film Forum begins a new chapter, the organization invites input from the public in a survey. A happy hour and meet and greet with Sheehan will be held on 5/31 at 6pm at Northwest Film Forum.