Must List: Nordic Lights Film Festival, Sara Porkalob’s Two New Plays, Novelist Jesmyn Ward

Your weekly guide to Seattle's hottest events.
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Nordic Lights Film Festival
(1/11–1/14) Contemporary Scandinavian feature-length films, shorts and documentaries screen as part of this ninth annual film festival, presented by the Nordic Heritage Museum in partnership with SIFF. Among the offerings: the Swedish art world parody The Square by Ruben Östlund, and a documentary titled Arctic Superstar, about an aspiring rapper from a remote village in northern Norway. Times and prices vary. SIFF Cinema Uptown, Queen Anne, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N; and SIFF Film Center, Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St.; 206.789.5707;

Sara Porkalob plunges into 2018
Co-curator of Intiman Theatre’s 2017 season, Sara Porkalob, directs two plays this month: Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men (for Washington Ensemble Theatre, 1/12–1/29) and Jiehae Park’s Peerless (for ArtsWest, 1/18–2/11). “That two different theaters are producing two plays by Asian women that explicitly look at the intersection of race, class and gender is evidence of a growing awareness of how white supremacy and white politics affects everything we do,” Porkalob says. Times and prices vary. ArtsWest, West Seattle, 4711 California Ave. SW, 206.938.0963,; Washington Ensemble Theatre at 12th Avenue Arts, Capitol Hill, 1620 12th Ave., 206.325.5105,

Jesmyn Ward
(1/17) In her four acclaimed novels, Ward, a professor at Tulane University and one of last year’s MacArthur “genius grant” winners—has drawn on her Mississippi upbringing and adult residence in New Orleans to examine the ongoing effects of racism. In this Seattle Arts & Lectures appearance moderated by executive director Ruth Dickey, Ward will discuss her latest book, Sing, Unburied, Sing (Scribner, $26), and perhaps the essay collection she edited before it, The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, which The New York Times said is “so alive with purpose, conviction and intellect that, upon finishing [it], you feel you must put this volume down and go walk around for a while.” 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Benaroya Hall, downtown, 200 University St.; 206.621.2230;

Two Trains Running at Seattle Repertory Theatre
(1/12–2/11) Flashback: Travel back in time to 1969 Pittsburgh and the height of the Civil Rights Movement in Pulitzer Prize–winning (and former Seattleite) playwright August Wilson’s Two Trains Running. (Tip: Look for more on Wilson next week on Times and prices vary. Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Center, 155 Mercer St.; 206.443.2222;

Martin Luther King Jr. Free State Parks Day
(1/15) Admission to all state parks is free in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Visit Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah or Kopachuck State Park in Gig Harbor and celebrate the civil rights leader’s legacy of a free and inclusive society, which includes making our treasured natural places accessible to all. Free. Washington state parks; 360.902.8844;

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