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Watch Films With Strangers At Strangers' Homes During Couch Fest This Saturday

Courtesy of Craig Downing
FILE - Here's a shot of a past Couch Fest screening in Seattle.

Helping people make new friends is one of the goals that inspired the creation of “Couch Fest," a one-day film festival that happens in homes across Seattle and all over the world this weekend.

Here's how it works: You look at the Couch Fest map and decide whether you want to see animation, documentaries or comedy short films. Then you head out, but not to a theater. You go to someone’s house — someone you’ve probably never met before.

Each program last 35 minutes with an intermission in the middle. Craig Downing, the event’s founder, says the way he chooses which short films to include is to ask himself this question: “Is this film so good that I would be willing to get into a bar fight and lose some teeth for it?”

The intermission has its own charm, says Downing. That's when when people start to connect and friendships take root.

He says it goes something like this: “[Someone might say,] 'You know, that person I was talking to during intermission, we seem to have a similar interest in films. They mentioned they want to go to the animation house after this film. Well, I’m interested in going to the animation house. Maybe they want to bike with me. Maybe they want to walk with me.”'

Downing says Couch Fest has sparked more than a few romances.

The festival, which started in Seattle in 2008, is now a global affair. Screenings are taking place all over the U.S. and in other countries such as Brazil, Iceland, Nepal, Lithuania and England.

The shows don’t always happen in living rooms. Sometime the theater is in the back room of a small business, an old VW bus or a laundromat.

Learn more about the event at

Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.