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Originally published Monday, May 19, 2014 at 8:17 PM

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SIFF shines, downtown library celebrates 10th anniversary

The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) lights up the city; Laura Dern wins big award, downtown library celebrates its 10th anniversary and County Executive Dow Constantine is hoping for a Seahawk repeat.


Seattle Times staff columnist

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Know any Bronies? They’re the grown men obsessed with “My Little Pony,” and such a curiosity that a new documentary about them, “A Brony Tale,” is one of the most anticipated films at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF).

“I didn’t know they existed,” SIFF director of programming Beth Barretttold me last Thursday, as we (well, she) stood on the red carpet at McCaw Hall for the festival’s opening night. “That is, until my brother told me that my nephew is a Brony.”

She might want to get him to Seattle next week, when Ashleigh Ball , who voices ponies Applejack and Rainbow Dash, will be here for the Saturday-morning — cartoon time! — screening. (“It’s gonna be crazy,” Barrett said.)

So was opening night, which featured “Jimi: All Is By My Side,” about Jimi Hendrix’s time in London, just before he exploded. (The sound wasn’t good, something SIFF head Mary Bacarellais well aware of, so please don’t bring it up again.)

The film co-stars Hayley Atwell, a British actress who came for the gala screening. No small thing, considering how busy she is: “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Captain America” and a TV series, “Agent Carter,” that just got picked up.

(This was her second time in Seattle. “I was here when I was 8 with my mother,” she told me. “We loved it dearly.”)

All that busy means her boyfriend, Evan Jones, has been doing a lot of standing around. So while Hayley worked the line, we chatted it up. He’s an actor, musician and model who is 23.

And Hayley is ... “32?” he puzzled. “I think that’s her press age.”

“Press age?”

“Oh, yeah! A lot of actors have one. It would blow your mind how many do.”

As for Atwell’s co-star, Andre Benjamin? “He’s a little timid, lovely man,” Jones said.

Director John Ridleysaid he was a little nervous to show the film in Hendrix’s hometown. “The connection here is so deep.”

Local director Megan Griffithsbrought “Lucky Them,” her third in the festival.

There was a big commotion at the arrival of Ron Leamon, who would receive the Mayor’s Film Award for his costume work on everything from “Blue Velvet” to “Snow Falling on Cedars” to the pilot for “Twin Peaks.”

His partner, Gerard Parr, called all comers onto the red carpet for a photo, a towering tornado in a patterned Thomas Dean shirt. Leamon was all stripes — and smiles.

“It means the world,” Leamon said of his award. “Seattle is home to me.”

After the film and across the way, revelers filled a cavernous space, where Macklemore (pre-Jewish costume calamity) blasted on the sound system and Naomi Seegersat at the side of the dance floor with a walker, waiting for her daughter to come back with a drink and some food.

“I’m still dancing with my feet,” she said. Loved her.

She’s Dern good

Two days later at the Egyptian Theatre, Laura Dernreceived the SIFF award for Achievement in Acting — presented to her by her friend, Eddie Vedder. Their four kids, close friends, were in the audience to see it. Nice.

“I don’t think there’s any color on the palette that she hasn’t used,” Vedder said, giving a special shout-out to Dern’s performance in the punk cult film “The Fabulous Stains.”

In an onstage conversation with film critic Elvis Mitchell, Dern recalled how “Blue Velvet” and “Wild at Heart” director David Lynchcalled her “Tidbit”; that her godmother was the late Shelly Winters ; that she ate 19 ice-cream cones for one scene in “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”; and that Steven Spielbergsaw her in 1991’s “Rambling Rose” and knew she had to be in “Jurassic Park.” Huh.

As for her parents, Bruce Dernand Diane Ladd? “They taught me to find compassion in the darkest of places,” Dern said, “to have understanding where I would have had judgment.”

Dern is still stinging from the cancellation of her HBO series, “Enlightened.” She won a 2012 Golden Globe for her role as Amy Jellicoe, an executive who self-destructs, goes to rehab, then lovingly, bumpily becomes an agent of change in her personal and professional lives.

“She’s inhabited a space in my heart,” Dern said of Amy. “And I wasn’t finished with her.”

Library toasted

Ten years ago, the Seattle Public Library downtown was the city’s bright new jewel, drawing crowds from near and far. New York Times critic Herbert Muschamp called it a “blazing chandelier to swing your dreams upon.”

But the guy who yanked on the locked Fifth Avenue doors Saturday afternoon wasn’t feeling the love.

“Stupid library!” he shouted, then stormed away.

The place had closed early for “A Toast to the Tenth,” an anniversary party that made plenty of noise in the stacks.

Grace Nordhoff , chairwoman of the host committee, and Stephanie Axelrod , of the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, greeted guests, who walked through and up the ramp to the Betty Jane Narver Reading Room, a party space for the night.

Joshua Prince-Ramus, who served as architect Rem Koolhaas’ right-hand man on the project, flew in from New York City, accompanied by his bespectacled 8-year-old daughter, Lilyblue. Prince-Ramus proposed to her mother in this very room on the night of the library’s opening.

“She was conceived five months later,” Prince-Ramas said of his daughter. (Thankfully, she wasn’t listening.)

His current work includes a museum for Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart, Germany. (“I asked for a better fee, rather than a discount on a car.”)

In the crowd, former Seattle Foundation head Anne Farrelland her husband, Bob; KEXP’s Tom Maraand his wife, Mary; Town Hall Seattle head Wier Harmanand his wife, Barbara; Gordon McHenryof Solid Ground; Anne Ramsay-Jenkins of the College Success Foundation; Mike Halperin and Jodi Green; and former City Librarian Deborah Jacobs and her wife, Diane Andolsek. They met at orientation at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where Jacobs is now director of the global libraries program. They were married in this room. (What is it about this place?)

The Seattle7Writers were in charge of the entertainment, which included Randy Sue Coburndoing a soft shoe to “Ain’t Misbehavin’” accompanied by author Stephanie Kalloson piano. Sean Beaudoinand others played Radiohead and Bon Jovi on the ukulele.

When I thought I spotted author Claire Dederertaking a selfie with a giant chicken, I knew it was time to take my leave.

Baby talk

Parental sacrifice came quickly for King County Executive Dow Constantine. The May 9 arrival of his first child, Sabrina Kyoko Adele , meant he had to decline an invitation from President Obama to visit the White House to celebrate our Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.

“That’s the ultimate tough call,” said his sympathetic spokesman, Chad Lewis. “But what do you do?”

You stay home with your girls and show that fatherhood has made you a new man. Tired, but new.

“The hope is that they will have a repeat championship and go back to D.C. next year,” Lewis said.

Indeed. And bring the baby.

Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Sunday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or nbrodeur@seattletimes.com.



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