By Andy Eide
With the holidays officially upon us, the Seattle International Film Festival and NHL Seattle have partnered to present a film series with one common theme.
The theme of ice.
Holidays On Ice runs Nov. 23rd through Dec. 16th, and will screen 11 films that are either about hockey or ice skating, and one movie about curling. Beth Barrett, the Artistic Director at SIFF says that this idea was hatched in the summer out of excitement over the Key Arena redevelopment and the prospect of the NHL arriving at the Seattle Center.
“For us, it’s a great way to partner with Seattle Center, Winterfest and NHL Seattle,” Barrett says. “We’re always looking for something that people can bring their entire families to that aren’t tied to a specific holiday…we started talking, in passing, about great ice skating movies and then what about ice skating and hockey, and maybe a little curling.”
NHL Seattle is a partner sponsor of the series, along with Washington State Healthfinder and the Seattle Center Winterfest. Barrett says that folks representing the prospective NHL club will be in the lobby for several screenings to engage with fans about the NHL.
If the movies inspire you to lace up some skates, you can take your movie stub to Winterfest and get a dollar off skate rentals. Conversely, bringing a Winterfest ticket to SIFF will get you 2$ off your movie ticket.
The hockey classic Slapshot screened Friday afternoon and if you couldn’t make that, don’t worry. It will screen again on Dec. 1st and there are plenty of hockey classics still to come.
Perhaps the most popular of those is the original Mighty Ducks which opens on Nov. 24th. Released in 1992, the film stars Emilio Estevez as a former youth hockey star turned reluctant coach of a hilarious group of misfit kids.
It is a movie that is still referenced and loved by hockey fans and players today. That includes some of Puget Sound’s local junior hockey players.
“I had all of them on VHS and would watch them all the time,” Seattle Thunderbirds forward Zack Andrusiak says. “We were a hockey family right from the start but definitely those movies helped grow that.”
The Mighty Ducks wasn’t the only favorite among the local hockey players however. Everett Silvertips star Connor Dewar prefers a lesser known movie that is not part of the series.
“For me, probably the Maurice Richard movie, I think it was called The Rocket, Number 9,” The Minnesota Wild prospect says. “It’s just kind of a movie I watched and I decided that if I put the work in, maybe I can be a pro hockey player one day.”
Dewar’s teammate, Bryce Kindopp, likes a movie about the US Hockey team’s upset of the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics. Despite being a Canadian player, he says Miracle is his favorite hockey film.
“It’s just a cool movie,” Kindopp adds. “It’s a feel good movie I’d say. It’s just cool to watch.”
You can catch Miracle at the Holidays On Ice series on Dec. 16th.
Another, perhaps less known, hockey classic running in the Holidays On Ice series is the 1986 film Youngblood about a fictional junior hockey club, the Hamilton Mustangs. The film stars Rob Lowe as the titular character, Dean Youngblood, who is a highly skilled player trying to make it in the rough and tumble world of junior hockey.
Patrick Swayze also stars as a veteran player who takes Youngblood under his wings and shows him the ropes.
As far as it being a realistic look at what life is like as a junior hockey player, some of the Thunderbirds say that it misses the beat in some ways but does do a good job of showing comradery among players on a hockey team.
Seattle captain Nolan Volcan has two main quibbles with the film however.
For one, he doesn’t like the big fight scene at the end that begins with the players slapping their sticks together. Second, he had some issue with the dramatic penalty shot that Youngblood scores.
“He didn’t celebrate until the puck went over the goal line,” Volcan adds. “It had already hit in the net. I may be nit picking but that always bugged me.”
None of the Thunderbirds players were born when Youngblood was released in the theater, but their coaches were, and it has become somewhat regular viewing on bus rides home from away games.
“First time (I saw it) was on the bus and since then I’ve seen it probably 13 times, all on the bus,” Volcan says. “It’s fun to watch, it never gets boring. Every time it’s on, we tune in.”
You can catch Youngblood on Dec. 7th.
Of course, the film series isn’t just hockey movies.
There are movies about figure skating like I, Tonya, Ice Castles and Blades of Glory. Then there is The Cutting Edge which might fall into either category as its about an injured hockey player who turns to ice dancing.
“I think it’s a cross over,” Barrett says. “It’s going to hit both audiences.”
Of all the non-hockey films in the series, the curling film King Curling might just be the most intriguing. The movie comes from Norway and SIFF describes it as ‘Norway’s answer to the The Big Lebowski’.
All the films will be shown on 35 millimeter film at the SIFF Film Center and tickets can be purchased at siff.net.