Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) kicks off tonight, bringing three weeks of screenings to theaters across the city. But of the almost 450 films, some are more locally-oriented than others. Like Daniel Torok's powerful documentary, "The Otherside," which explores Seattle's burgeoning hip-hop scene.
Brought to national attention by the success of artists like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Seattle is slowly emerging out from under the specter of the grunge era with a new, diverse take on rap music. Featuring the biggest names in Northwest hip-hop -- look for Geo and Sabzi of the Blue Scholars as well as familiar faces like Shabazz Palaces, Fresh Espresso, Dyme Def, Jake One, and Don't Talk to the Cops! -- "The Otherside" examines both the media and the method.
In addition to gripping concert footage, "The Otherside" includes interviews with artists about pressing topics like struggles with major labels and the prevalence of digital and independent distribution.
Throughout the film, though, it's difficult to ignore the presence of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's lightening-fast rise to stardom in the last year. The film, three years in the making, includes interviews with the duo both before and after the success of "Thrift Shop" and the "The Heist," wherein Macklemore seems to forecast the potential for national attention to be paid to Seattle hip-hop. While many of the rest of the artists are scrappy and still trying to navigate the road towrd success without a major label, Macklemore's already done it.
It's not a bad thing, it just is. Because, to be honest, Macklemore just is right now.
The end of the story of Seattle hip-hop is as of yet unwritten -- what about the other artists grinding out new LPs and playing to crowds of kids in beer-stinking bars? -- but the timing of this film and it's release at the film festival couldn't be better.
"The Otherside" is screening twice during SIFF. For ticketing information and dates, visit SIFF's website.