Each year the folks at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) hand out a list of film recommendations from the people that program the festival. Each has different tastes and strategies for what they recommend - so while useful you can't assume you'll love what they love. But over the years one starts to understand how one's taste aligns with the unique individuals that make up SIFF.
You can read the pretty, printable PDF form at this location. I've pulled out the text and re-printed below in case you'd like to stay within your browser. Lots and lots of tips after the jump. Have fun! And don't forget to checkout some of my personal suggestions based on past festival viewing.
Carl Spence, SIFF Artistic Director:
Faced with the daunting task of only choosing a few films out of 273, I’ve decided to leave out some of the most buzzed about titles and films in higher profile slots (BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, YOUR SISTER’S SISTER, GRASSROOTS, THE CHEF, An Evening with Sissy Spacek and BADLANDS) and select a baker’s dozen organized by pathways.
STEP UP TO THE PLATE (Creative Streak) A captivating and mouth watering alternative for any food lover who hasn’t had the opportunity to make it to visit Michel Bras’ legendary hotel-restaurant in the remote plains of Laguiole, France (myself included). This smart film is not only an exploration of Michel Bras’ kitchen wizardry but also a poignant portrait of family ties and the passing of generations.
OSLO, AUGUST 31ST (Give Me Drama!) The second feature from sensationally talented Joachim Trier (REPRISE) and based on the French novel “Le Feu Follet” by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle follows a 34-year-old on a days pass leave from a drug rehab center. An expressive, emotionally rich and illuminating character study that I can’t get out of my head.
FINDING NORTH (I Didn’t Know That!) This eye opening film from the producers of AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH and WAITING FOR SUPERMAN has been called a political hot potato and incendiary film despite its fact based approach to the overlooked phenomenon that 49 million people go hungry every day in the US.
HELLO, I MUST BE GOING (Love Me, Do!) An offbeat romance starring Melanie Lynskey (with dead-on comic skills) as Amy Minsky. Divorced at 35 and living with her parents, she happens to meet a 19-year-old actor and soon the two of them are deep in a sexual relationship that she knows is wrong. Or is it?
COMING HOME (Love Me, Do!) A nuanced and intriguing character study of a young girl who feels imprisoned in the real world after escaping from eight years in captivity at the hands of a troubled kidnapper.
A CHECKOUT GIRL’S BIG ADVENTURES (Love Me, Do!) Anna Sam’s bestselling memoir inspired this enchanting yet reality-grounded romantic fable with a captivating lead performance and cinematic flourishes that reminded me of AMELIE (and Audrey Tatou).
STARBUCK (Make Me Laugh) The crazy premise of a 42-year-old adolescent who is forced to grow up when he discovers that he has fathered more than 500 children is carried by a winning performance by Patrick Huard. A box-office and audience award winning hit.
SUPERCLÁSICO (Make Me Laugh) Festival favorite Ole Christian Madsen (FLAME AND CITROEN) has moved to comedy with a slyly funny romantic comedy about the mercurial, confounding nature of love and desire set in Buenos Aires.
ALL WATCHED OVER BY MACHINES OF LOVING GRACE (Sci-Fi and Beyond) The brilliant BBC filmmaker Adam Curtis behind 2007’s THE POWER OF NIGHTMARES is back with a new three-part work on mankind’s dependency on computer technology.
ATOMIC STATES OF AMERICA (Sci-Fi and Beyond) In the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan, this sobering documentary explores the current state of nuclear energy in the United States. Stimulating, smartly made and eye-opening.
THE INVADER (Show Me the World) Driven by an outstanding performance by Issaka Sawadogo what seems like a socio-political parable turns into a dark urban thriller.
UNIT 7 (Thrill Me) A superb action film that thrillingly follows an ethically challenged police force and is as much about the characters as it is about the chase.
KILLER JOE (To the Extreme) William Friedkin’s latest film showcases his extraordinary talent in this provocative black comedy based on the play by Tracy Letts with an all-star cast.
COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER (Face the Music) Don’t miss the opportunity to see this essential classic film starring tribute honoree Sissy Spacek under the stars at a free outdoor screening at the Mural Amphitheater on Friday, June 8 at dusk (9:30pm)
Beth Barrett, Director of Programming
PINK RIBBONS, INC. (I Didn’t Know That!) – Unbelievably affecting and infuriating, this doc about the commodification of the Pink Ribbon, and what breast cancer fundraising really accomplishes.
With over 180 short films at the Festival this year, it is hard to just choose one program, so after you have whetted your whistle with SHORTSFEST OPENING NIGHT, come back for more with great loacl fare in SEATOWN SHORTS, WTF or STRANGE RELATIONS.
THE GREAT BEAR (Thrill Me) – Danish animation that is truly a fun ride for adults as well, though the LEGENDS OF VALHALLA: THOR (Make Me Laugh) comes in a close second for me in the Films4Families animations.... Fun with a capital F!
These two are not to be confused with the VERY adult animation of TATSUMI (Creative Streak) Eric Khoo’s masterful film about the gekiga work of Yoshihiro Tatsumi. By turns stunning and a lilttle shocking, but really simply captivating.
KING CURLING (Make Me Laugh) – Might be my favorite film in the Festival - a Norwegian comedy about bringing the stones, and embracing your inner curler. The production design on this is pitch perfect.
Thrilled this year to have three strong lesbian films, including the foul foul mouth of Olympia Dukakis in CLOUDBURST, a surprising love story of brand new step-sisters (KISS ME), and the coming of age tale of MOSQUITA Y MARI (all in the Love Me, Do pathway ... that’s right, none of them die violently!)
LIPSTIKKA (Give Me Drama!) – Spare drama of two women, good friends as teens, who are separated for 15 years. In that time, a lot changes... Powerful acting, and a constantly suprising story makes this a great drama.
Australia represents with some wonderful films inlcuding TOOMELAH (Show Me the World) from Ivan Sen, an tough and dreamy view of a tough Aboriginal neighborhood and HAIL (To the Extreme) from Amiel Courtin-Wilson - not an easy film, but worth the effort for the breathtaking acting chops of Daniel P. Jones, playing a semi-fictionalized version of himself.
A couple of quirky and Québecois comedies not to be missed, COTEAU ROUGE (Make Me Laugh) and STARBUCK (Make Me Laugh), and I would be remiss if I didn’t send everyone to the Filipino camp zombie experience of REMINGTON AND THE CURSE OF THE ZOMBADINGS (To the Extreme).
Other films not to miss: Emerging Master Andrea Arnold’s WUTHERING HEIGHTS; Bill Skarsgård in both SIMON AND THE OAKS and THE CROWN JEWELS; the infuriating COMPLIANCE; the fascinating DREAMS OF A LIFE; and the gorgeous VALLEY OF SAINTS.
Maryna Ajaja, Programmer
BEST INTENTONS (Romania) A successful amusing obsessive-compulsive goes bananas when his mom has a stroke.
ELENA (Russia) Treated unfairly by her convalescing husband, Elena devises an appropriate solution in this perfectly unassuming masterpiece of desperation mentality.
THE EMPTY HOME (Kyrgyzstan/Russia) Ascel wants to escape her village in Kyrgyzstan and go to the big city of Moscow. But you can’t make a person wise no matter how practical & adaptable they are.
CHAPITEAU-SHOW (Russia) Welcome to a surrealistic cabaret in a fiercely inventive film of 4 interconnected stories about love, friendship, respect, & collaboration.
THE CONVOY (Russia) A dark chilling drama about an Army captain who is tormented by rage.
FOUND MEMORIES (Brazil) A fictitious decaying village in Brazil is discovered by a talented young photographer who asks the town’s elderly inhabitants to open up to her lens.
FUTURE LASTS FOREVER (Turkey) This young woman collects sounds which proves that careful listening can lead to love.
HEMEL (Netherlands) Growing up is a hard & sexual thing to do.
THE HOUSE (Slovak Republic) Dad, who said we should build my house next to yours?
MOURNING (Iran) Unique film told in an unusual way about deaf mutes & a little boy who reads lips.
MY DAD IS BARYSHNIKOV (Russia) Whether he is or isn’t, I’m going to dance my own dance & love the life I live.
FAMILY PORTRAIT IN BLACK AND WHITE (Ukraine) A woman in Ukraine is foster mother to 16 mixed race kids.
SHARQIYA (Israel) Quiet & compelling drama about the plight of Bedouins in Israel.
SIX MILLION AND ONE (Israel) A family vacation to Austria turns into a humorous & fundamentally life changing discovery of a father who survived the Holocaust.
TRAIL ON THE ROAD (Russia) Rare treat—Alexei Guerman’s first solo feature was banned in the USSR for 15 years. At every turn, Guerman cuts through the myth of war to show a bitterly ironic battlefield where words like hero & traitor lose their meanings.
VOLCANO (Iceland) Coming of age story of a 67 year old retired janitor who tries to fill the void with his estranged family proving that even old dogs can learn new tricks.
Looking forward to viewing LIPSTIKKA & UNDER AFRICAN SKIES
Justine Barda, Programmer
WUTHERING HEIGHTS – For anyone who approaches the remake of a classic with extreme trepidation, this one’s something special. Andrea Arnold manages to bring something new without doing any damage to the old.
LAS ACACIAS – The quintessential road trip movie with an exceptional trio of a cast, including, I feel I can safely say, the cutest baby in any film in the festival.
SILENCE: ALL ROADS LEAD TO MUSIC – When the five musicians featured in this film get together, something pretty amazing happens. Come listen to them jam!
THE LAST FRIDAY – This excellent first feature from Jordan exerts a witty charm with its deadpan black humor and stylish minimalism, building to an exquisite final scene. Plus, the soundtrack is terrific.
MARINA ABROMOVIC THE ARTIST IS PRESENT – The filmmakers have accomplished something really unusual here – a film that will appeal equally to people who are devoted followers of Abromovic’s work as well as those who are new to (and/or skeptical of) performance art altogether.
MY BROTHER THE DEVIL – This is one of those films that I sat through willing the director not to make a false step – and she doesn’t! Sexy leads and an original story told with real visual flair.
THE LAW IN THESE PARTS – Rigorous investigation of the injustice of the justice system operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and how it came to be that way. As one of the interview subjects says, “History will be the judge” – come see history in action!
KILL ME – Really beautiful performance by Maria Dragus as a young woman at the end of her rope who meets a man in the same straits. An honest and powerful imaginative journey by Emily Atef (MOLLY’S WAY).
LÁ-BAS: A CRIMINAL EDUCATION – Part crime thriller, part fresh take on the African immigrant experience, featuring an outstanding lead performance by Kader Alassane, on whose life the story is based and who also wrote some of the film’s fantastic music.
ROUGE PAROLE – The best documentary I’ve seen about the Arab Spring, from Tunisia, the country where it all began.
Clare Canzoneri, Programmer
Top 5 over 60 minutes:
FIVE STAR EXISTENCE - beautifully shot, enthralling look at how technology has overtaken us. turn your phone off, watch this film, but then go offline and into the sunshine, please.
LIPSTIKKA - complicated love and friendship between two women and the past that haunts them.
THE OTHER DREAM TEAM - entertaining, educational, and tie-dye-filled doc about the 1992 Lithuanian Olympic basketball team.
EL GUSTO: THE GOOD MOOD - the now-elderly masters of a form of popular Algerian music reunite after 50 years torn apart by war.
CHARLES BRADLEY: SOUL OF AMERICA - another feel-good music doc. if you don’t fall in love with this 62-year-old soul singer from Brooklyn, we may need to have a chat.
Top 5 under 20 minutes:
SOLIPSIST - colors and converging bodies and underwater puppets. (in SHORTSFEST OPENING NIGHT)
ROMANCE - mesmerizing, musical love. (plays in SHORTSFEST OPENING NIGHT)
ROLLING ON THE FLOOR LAUGHING - realistic, heart-wrenching portrait of a family dealing with change. Many bottles of wine doesn’t help. (plays in STRANGE RELATIONS)
LITTLE HORSES - because ponies are just little horses… (plays in STRANGE RELATIONS)
JOY - very powerful character-focused short from Ireland. (plays in SHORTSFEST CLOSING NIGHT)
Dan Doody, Programmer
Probably not surprising that my two favorite films this year are midnighters-both are consummate white-knuckle chillers that will haunt you long after leaving the cinema:
CITADEL – an intensely suspenseful horror-thriller that follows an agoraphobic young father who teams with a crackpot priest to rescue his infant daughter from an abandoned tower block tenement infested by hoodie-wearing feral children.
THE SQUAD – a military unit seizes a remote outpost in the fog-enshrouded slopes of the Colombian Andes where they find signs of witchcraft and ritualistic markings meant to ward off the devil. Paranoia, mutiny, and something far darker soon rips through their ranks.
KING CURLING – Break out your brooms, sharpen your skates, and polish your stones-curling in all its competitive and comedic glory returns to SIFF. Truls Paulson once ruled Norway’s curling sheets, till he snapped beneath his own obsessive-compulsive disorder. Blending KINGPIN, THE BIG LEBOWSKI and RUSHMORE, this Norwegian comedic sports cocktail is equal parts ridiculous and sublime.
EARTHBOUND – writer-director Alan Brennan redefines the concept of star-crossed lovers in this witty, inventive sci-fi rom-com. Joe truly believes he is the sole surviving son of Zalaxon; Maria is equally convinced that his belief is nothing more than an unhealthy obsession with old BATTLESTAR GALACTICA reruns. But just as she has finally convinced Joe that his beliefs are delusional, she starts seeing the signs of a larger, interstellar conspiracy at play.
THE MONK – Featuring a riveting performance from Vincent Cassel as Ambrosio, the eponymous monk whose descent into sin and depravity forms the basis for this eerie and elegant period drama based on the sensational Gothic novel.
MIRAGE – This audacious debut from South Korea heralds a striking new talent. Employing a noirish narrative style reminiscent of David Lynch, both visually and structurally, director Yang Jung-ho’s film is a brilliant meditation on loyalty, friendship, and wormholes.
ELIMINATE: ARCHIE COOKSON – Even George Smiley never had it this bad-sad sack Archie Cookson narrowly survives the liquidation that claims the lives of his office mates. Now, given only 48 hours to live by his former friend, Archie finds himself strangely revitalized in this sardonic, espionage thriller.
DREAMS OF A LIFE – In December of 2003, Joyce Vincent died while she was wrapping Christmas gifts and watching television in her London flat; her remains would not be discovered for almost 3 years. Interviewing Vincent’s former friends and colleagues, documentarian Carol Morley probes how such a beautiful, vivacious person could, for all intents and purposes, disappear at a time when people are, supposedly, more connected with each other than ever before.
THE GLASS MAN – From Cristian Solimeno, whose short film “Love” astonished SIFF audience in 2009, his first feature film debut is a timely, slick thriller in which Martin, a man drowning in debt, is given a simple proposition by a debt collector who shows up on his doorstep one night; however, the simplicity of this ominous request belies the nightmarish journey ahead.
EXCISION – Expanding his short film (also screened at SIFF 2009), director Richard Bates Jr, fashions this wonderfully twisted midnight treat about social misfit Pauline attempting to make a heaven of her hellish high school existence and featuring Malcolm McDowell, Traci Lords, and John Waters as our heroine pastor-therapist.
LONG NIGHT’S JOURNEY INTO HELL – During ShortsFest weekend don’t miss this fiendish road trip into short cinema’s heart of darkness featuring a Venusian big game hunt, an eerie Irish pastoral, zombies (of course), and an overprotective teddy bear.
Eddy Dughi, Programming Assistant
SUNNY - How many chick-flick comedies have swearing, brawling and disco soundtracks? This South Korean getting-the-gang-back-together charmer has all three in spades.
CRACKS IN THE SHELL - Young actress Stine Fischer Christensen captivates as a drama student transformed by a manipulative director and a blond wig.
MARINA ABROMOVIC THE ARTIST IS PRESENT explores the life and work of Marina Abromovic, the grandmother of performance art (and a personal hero of mine.)
WONDER WOMEN! THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE AMERICAN SUPERHEROINE explores the history and significance of a character many know but few understand.
THE WOMAN KNIGHT OF MIRROR LAKE - Herman Yau’s latest kung fu flick is a biographical account of Qiu Jin, a radical feminist from 1911- and it delivers high drama and fantastic action.
DREAMS OF A LIFE - Would people miss you if you disappeared? This documentary opens up more questions than it answers about a woman whose corpse was found in her apartment, untouched for three years.
FUTURE WEATHER - A 13-year-old girl, abandoned by her mother, funnels her stress about her family into an obsession with global warming and the inevitable end of the world.
KING CURLING - Gorgeous artistic design elevates this absurd comedy about OCD and curling into a masterpiece.
RED ROAD - Andrea Arnold’s 2006 suspenseful directorial debut explores voyeurism and secrets in a CC-TV society, and her upcoming WUTHERING HEIGHTS promises to be just as riveting.
I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m incredibly excited about Wes Anderson’s MOONRISE KINGDOM, a tale of young love starring Edward Norton in a boyscout costume.
Ruth Hayler, Programmer
I WISH –The newest film by famed director Hirokazu Kore- Eda (NOBODY KNOWS, STILL WALKING) is a sweet, insightful story about a 12-year-old boy trying to reunite his broken family. His parents have divorced: his depressed mother has gone back home to live with her parents in a town with a smoking volcano, taking her older son Koichi; Ryu, the younger son (about 9), is living a long distance away with his feckless rock musician dad. A new bullet train line is being built between the two cities, and the school kids say that if you stand at the crossing point of two trains going in opposite directions, the combined energy—like a shooting star--will grant you a wish. Koichi wants to believes this, and decides to make an expedition to the mid-point to wish that his family would get back together. With the help of friends, he makes the expedition, and Ryu (also with friends) comes from the opposite direction to meet there. In the course of this each of the children thinks about what they would like to wish for, as do most of the other characters in the movie, resulting in a beautiful meditation on what we value most in life.
SIMON AND THE OAKS - Terrific. Engrossing family historical drama set during and after WWII. Simon, son of a woodworker, loves classical music and reading; his Jewish friend Isaac, son of a well-to-do bookstore owner, loves shipbuilding—it’s as if the two fathers and the two sons were switched. Throw in an adoption and an adulterous attraction between two of the parents, and you end up with an ever-intriguing story. A really beautiful production from Sweden, with strong performances. Starring Bill Skarsgård (son of Stellan), last year’s Golden Space Needle Award winner for SIMPLE SIMON, who also appears in this year’s THE CROWN JEWELS.
STARBUCK—Not a coffee company, but the memorable lead character of this French-Canadian comedy, the pseudonym used by a sperm donor who anonymously fathered hundreds of children--who are now trying to find him. “Starbuck” hides his identity but is nevertheless curious about his children and drawn to them. Now in his 40’s, with his current girlfriend pregnant, he is an appealing semi-loser who wants to reform his life. A comedy with heart, about a flawed but generous man.
POLISSE - Procedural policier about a child protection unit in N. Paris. This winner of the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival is fast-paced, with a lot going on, rapid-fire dialogue, flashes of humor, and several knockout scenes. Concentrates on the individual detectives, including their off-duty lives, and how the trauma of their jobs affects them. Actor Joeystarr (offscreen he’s a black rapper who has had brushes with the law) has a heartbreakingly powerful scene that really affected me. The odd title is not a real French word, but a child’s intuitive misspelling of police.
THE SAVOY KING: CHICK WEBB AND THE MUSIC THAT CHANGED AMERICA – Drummer and bandleader Chick Webb was a talented dynamo in a small package. As a child he broke his back and only grew to be 4 feet tall, but that never stopped him on his way to becoming the hippest bandleader in America, king of the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem. This delightful film has lots of great swing music (and dancing) of the 1930s, the famed interracial Battle of the Bands (between Chick Webb and Benny Goodman), and Chick’s discovery of Ella Fitzgerald (she tried out in a talent contest as a 15-year-old, and was soon singing in Chick’s band). It’s a great story, well told.
THE OTHER DREAM TEAM – In the 1988 Olympics the Soviet Union men’s basketball team won the gold (beating the US)—but 4 out of 5 of the starters were Lithuanian. In 1989 the Soviet Union broke up (not without some violence in Lithuania), and in the next Olympics (1992) the basketball team from the newly-independent Lithuania met the Russian team in the bronze medal round in a titanic struggle. The under-funded Lithuanian team got financial support from the Grateful Dead to make it to the Olympics, and proudly wore their Grateful Dead tie-dyed uniforms. Colorful characters, and a vivid lesson in the break-up of the Soviet Union.
TWO FOR THE ROAD - In 1964 TOM JONES won the Oscar for Best Picture; the next year MY FAIR LADY took the same award. A few years later (1967) the stars of those two blockbusters teamed up in TWO FOR THE ROAD, a less well known film ripe for re-discovery, with the radiant Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney as a couple who meet on a roadtrip in the south of France. The film follows them through courtship, marriage, infidelity and parenthood. Screenplay by Frederick Raphael (DARLING, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD, EYES WIDE SHUT); directed by Stanley Donen (CHARADE, SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN), with a memorable Henry Mancini score. 4K digital restoration.
Dustin Kaspar, Programmer
5 BROKEN CAMERAS - What begins as a document of a single conflict soon deepens into a rumination on the beginnings of prejudice as children grow up amid the racial hatred of war.
170 HZ - The film’s largely deaf narrative lends this first-time director the freedom to explore the visual and especially sonic vocabulary of cinema.
THE AMBASSADOR - Astounding access to the business of smuggling blood diamonds is captured by an intentionally absurd documentarian.
GOD BLESS AMERICA - Goldthwait has crafted a cathartic fantasy that brilliantly takes aim at our contemporary pop culture.
LIPSTIKKA - Revelatory Israeli drama packs considerable punch with a pitch perfect screenplay that slowly unfurls its secrets and extraordinary lead actresses.
THE MIRROR NEVER LIES - Debut film connects an exotic location and gorgeous cinematography with a unique tale about the emotional maturation of a young girl.
OTELO BURNING - South African coming of age drama blends the final violent struggles of Apartheid and Shakespeare’s Othello into an immensely moving drama.
STARRY STARRY NIGHT - A lightly fantastical film enters the mind of a young woman who discovers love while she is trying to escape her parents’ divorce.
TEY - Alain Gomis uses an unusual plot to examine African opinions about returning home to live after studying in America. Poetic and unforgettable.
WE ARE LEGION: THE STORY OF THE HACKTIVISTS - A glorious examination of the blossoming online counter culture that has discovering the power to effect change in our world.
WICKIE AND THE TREASURE OF THE GODS - A swashbuckling Viking romp for the whole family.
Megan Leonard, Programming Assistant
SIN BIN - This teen comedy revolves around a charming boy who loans out his car for his friends to have sex in. I know it sounds gross, but it’s got SUPERBAD quality laughs.
BULL RUNNERS OF PAMPLONA - Thousands of people risk their lives to run with the bulls and be a part of an old Spanish tradition.
YOUR SISTER’S SISTER: This is the local film to look out for. Lynn Shelton returns from hibernation in full force with this indie flick starring Emily Blunt.
SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED - A winner for local comedy. With comic names like Mark Duplass and Aubrey Plaza, who can say no?
DUCK BEACH TO ETERNITY - This documentary takes us down to Duck Beach where Mormon’s congregate one weekend out of the year. The story doesn’t focus on the religion itself, but how people within the faith interact and find their mate.
SUPERCLASICO - Multi-lingual, love triangle, coming of age, soccer—what a wonderfully complicated film.
LIBERAL ARTS - Though Josh Radnor is charming as always in this indie comedy, Zac Efron steals the show with his hysterical cameo performance.
WE ARE LEGION: THE STORY OF HACKTIVISTS - Some may say the internet has made our generation lazy, after seeing this documentary I recognize that activism has just evolved alongside our technology.
GOD BLESS AMERICA - Someone’s going around killing reality TV show stars? I’m sold.
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD - This Sundance award winner follows a six year-old girl through an apocalyptic southern Delta full of prehistoric creatures.
Sarah Loritz, Programming Coordinator
KING CURLING – A hilarious and spunky take on the world of curling! A gang of men try to get back their stride and glory from the curling championships of the past. Fans of Baz Luhrmann and The Office will fall in love!
BEWARE OF MR. BAKER – Ginger Baker is one of the most influential and wild drummers in music’s history. He may have gotten older, but he never settled down. A rollercoaster journey about one of rock history’s most unpredictable.
419 – Losing all of your money in an email fishing scam is not a new story. Flying to Cape Town, South Africa with your buddies to hunt down the scammer, is. A bold and thrilling 1st feature debut for Ned Thorne.
PINK RIBBONS, INC. – There’s not one among us who hasn’t been affected by cancer. This infuriating documentary explores the corporate world behind charities: the realities of what is being helped and what is being marketed.
BULL RUNNERS OF PAMPLONA – Who hasn’t wanted to run with the bulls…..especially if it’s from the safety of the movie theater. Thrilling and beautiful. Red and White attire is a must!
WELCOME TO DOE BAY – Three of the best things about summer in the Pacific Northwest are Festivals, great live music and camping. Doe Bay Fest is a hidden gem of a Music Festival that combines all 3 and sells out in a snap. If you haven’t been able to snag a ticket, now’s your chance!
DUCK BEACH TO ETERNITY – Mormons on Spring Break! Let’s get ca-raazy with no alcohol, sexless hookups, and the focus on finding your perfect mate. Wild.
I AM NOT A HIPSTER – A perfect fit for our new Catalyst section. A truthful and heartfelt look about finding out what’s truly important in a world that can be all about the surface.
CHARLES BRADLEY: SOUL OF AMERICA – Truly the ultimate rags to riches hidden talent story. What if James Brown never made a record until he was in his 60s? The raw soul and musical beauty of Charles Bradley finally comes to the surface.
THE SOURCE – All of the wild and mysterious stereotypes about hippie communes started with this family. Father Yod, a Hemingway type masculine force, and his beautiful flower children shake up LA.
EMERALD CITY VISIONS (A HIP HOP REINTERPRETATION OF THE WIZ) – Arguably the most vibrant music in Seattle right now is hip hop. Attending this event will not only remind you how much you liked THE WIZ, but it will showcase the freshest talent in our city! “Ease on down…ease on down the road…”
10 (or 11 I snuck one more in-shhhh) recommendations is not enough! Also check out: COAL MINERS DAUGHTER (one of my all time favorites!), BRAVE, THE BRITISH GUIDE TO SHOWING OFF, THE CHEF, SAVE THE DATE, and UNDER AFRICAN SKIES.
Clinton McClung, Programmer
CHAPITEAU-SHOW – Don’t let the running time scare you, this fiercely inventive and enchanting Russian film is a wry quartet of intertwined stories tied together by musical numbers, all told from inside a colorful circus tent.
THE DO-DECA-PENTATHLON - Filmed before larger budget films CYRUS and JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME, but only recently completed, the Duplass Brothers scrappy low-budget comedy follows two brothers whose sibling rivalry goes to hilarious extremes.
ROBOT AND FRANK - A buddy comedy, a heist film, a sci-fi story, and a tender rumination on aging all wrapped in one sweetly funny package that is filled with surprises, and another amazing performance the great Frank Langella.
KILLER JOE - William Friedkin isn’t just our Tribute guest, he also returns to the big screen with this amazingly outré adaptation of the off-Broadway play that features Matthew McConaughey in the creep-tastic role he was born to play.
WE ARE LEGION: THE STORY OF THE HACKTIVISTS - An unprecedented peek behind the mask look at the hackers of Anonymous, the internet jokesters responsible for every meme you can think of, who have morphed into a 20th-century Weather Underground, and were just named one of Time magazine’s most influential people in the world.
GOD BLESS AMERICA - God bless Bobcat Goldthwait for this cathartic comedy about a middle aged man (the brilliant Joel Murray) totally fed up with stupidity of society. So darkly comic that it opens with a hysterically over-the-top baby murder - and only gets worse from there.
KLOWN - This crazed Danish comedy is presented by our special guest (and walking one-man party) Tim League from the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin. They are now distributing cutting-edge films as well, and SIFF Cinema is Seattle’s exclusive home for their cult movies in the making.
ROLLER TOWN - Canadian comedy group Picnicface first made a splash with the “Powerthirst” sports commercial parodies (Google it, they’re hilarious), and now they are back with this profane yet oddly innocent take on ’70s roller disco films.
WONDER WOMEN! THE UNTOLD STORY OF AMERICAN SUPERHEROINES - The first superheroine has had a lasting influence on pop culture, inspiring generations of young women. This super-fun documentary tells her story as well as the story of all the superheroines to follow (Xena, Ripley, Buffy!).
THE REVISIONARIES - Yes it’s true, textbook standards set in Texas affect how science, history, and social studies are taught throughout the U.S., which makes it particularly upsetting that the power lies in the hands of those who insist that their religious agenda be pushed to the fore.
Timothée Salze-Loac’h, Programming Assistant
XINGU - Besides the gorgeous sceneries and helicopter shots, Xingu is a very instructive and inspiring biopic that still shows the contradictions and mistakes of its main characters.
AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY - I really admire chinese artist Ai Weiwei both for his work and the courage he shows in his acts of activism. NEVER SORRY is a very comprehensive documentary with great access that don’t hesitate to show the more controversial sides of the artist.
THE AMBASSADOR - For me, this film is a real lesson in investigative journalism, providing an incredible inside look on the blood diamond business and plays more like a spy thriller than a documentary. The courage and ambition needed to achieve this film is just incredible.
GOLDEN SLUMBERS - The filmmaker is a friend of mine, so I am a little bit biased for this film but this film does provide a very accurate and comprehensive account of the fate of Cambodian cinema and shows a lot of creativity and finesse in storytelling.
REBELLION - Does quite a good job at installing a relevant historical and political background while creating a lot of tension. The realism and pace of the few combat scenes make the whole film really breath-taking.
170 HZ - The great cinematography, sound and characters submerge the audience in this tragic love story between two deaf teenagers.
SIN BIN - Some really fun dialogues and characters gives a very interesting edge to this teen comedy.
CRACKS IN THE SHELL - A great film for everyone interested in theatre or analyzing the separation between the character and the actress.
I AM NOT A HIPSTER - A very strong cast and a really sweet story backed with great music that has been playing in my iPod for weeks.
GOD BLESS AMERICA -I haven’t actually watched this film yet but the trailer is supper fun and it seems like a must go for everyone who ever dreamed of punching a reality TV celebrity.
Stan Shields, Programmer
THE ATOMIC STATES OF AMERICA - In the wake of Japan’s recent Fukushima disaster, this documentary takes a revealing look at the history, myths, and realities of nuclear power regulation, and reminds us that “we all live downstream from something.”
BEAUTY - First-time filmmaker Daniela Seggiaro turns a young girl’s coming of age story into a surprisingly nuanced metaphor for Argentina’s treatment of their indigenous population.
BONSAI - Instead of telling his girlfriend that he didn’t get a job transcribing a novel, Julio decides to write his own novel and pass it off as the other novelist’s. With cool, deadpan, humor, Cristián Jiménez officially establishes himself as the leader of Chilé’s hot new generation of filmmakers.
EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE - Gabrielle Rose delivers one of the performances of the year, in this funny and touching tale of a woman wrestling with early dementia while trying to pass on her wisdom before it’s too late.
THE INVADER - A charming, illegal African worker in Brussels strikes up an affair with an attractive, Belgian businesswoman, but begins to unravel when she breaks off the relationship, A gripping and provocative first feature from acclaimed short filmmaker Nicolas Provost.
STARBUCK - A hit comedy in Canada, STARBUCK shows how the past comes back to haunt a prolific sperm donor, when 20 years later 142 of his offspring file a class-action lawsuit to discover his identity.
THE STUDENT - Santiago Mitre’s surprisingly taut tale of a young man’s political coming of age; as he transforms from a boy with a crush into a serious political power-broker.
UNDER AFRICAN SKIES - On the 25th anniversary of Paul Simon’s controversial, boycott-breaking album GRACELAND, filmmaker Joe Berlinger follows Simon’s preparations for a reunion tour, while looking back on the album’s musical and political impact.
WIEBO’S WAR - Wiebo Ludwig: devoted Christian or charismatic cult leader, righteous patriarch or eco-terrorist? This story of a religious commune that sits atop one of the largest natural gas fields in North America, will force you to choose one or both sides.
XINGU - Cao Hamburger’s sumptuous biopic of the Villa-Lobos brothers struggle to create Brazil’s first indigenous-only national preserve, combines a stellar cast with gorgeous footage of never-before-filmed areas of the rainforest to create a truly epic film-going experience.
And ten films that I haven’t seen, but can’t wait to watch: ALL WATCHED OVER BY MACHINES OF LOVING GRACE, THE AMBASSADOR, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, COMPLIANCE, I AM NOT A HIPSTER, JOHN DIES AT THE END, LIPSTIKKA, SLEEPWALK WITH ME, WE ARE LEGION: THE STORY OF THE HACKTIVISTS, and WUTHERING HEIGHTS.
Andy Spletzer, Programmer
ALT SHORTS – The new shorts in the “Beyond Narrative” program will definitely mess with your head; the ALT SHORTS MASTERS selection of archival films from Bruce Conner and Abigail Child show just what can be done with editing, found footage, and a sly sense of humor.
BESTIAIRE –French Canadian auteur Denis Côté sets a beautiful frame then allows the images and sounds of the exotic beasts in Quebec’s “Parc Safari” speak for themselves.
CITY WORLD – My favorite discovery of the festival, this strangely beautiful landscape narrative is comprised of people-free shots of suburban Orlando filtered through the narration of a young boy.
EASTON’S ARTICLE – I love how this movie pulls off big ideas on a small budget, perfectly capturing the spirit of the new SIFF Catalyst subsection of New American Cinema.
THE INVADER – Somewhere along the way this story of an illegal immigrant in Belgium crosses the line into fantasy or fable, all the while pushing buttons of race and sexuality.
KEYHOLE – In Guy Madden’s meta film noir, an old house on a dark and stormy night is full of memories that come to life. Who’d have thunk Jason Patric could fit in so well into Madden’s crazy universe?
NORTHWEST CONNECTIONS – This is yet another great year for locally made films, from opening night to the closing reception!
OSLO, AUGUST 31St – More than just a story of a junkie trying to clean up in Oslo, Norway, it’s about a smart young man wrestling with disappointment and depression in the face of the life he thought he was going to live.
ROLLER TOWN – This ’70’s-era roller skating comedy is so much funnier than it has any right to be. ’Nuff said.
appointments. Though they have lost touch, the filmmaking ties them together with impressive transitions and inevitable consequences.
Brad Wilke, Programmer
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD - an engaging journey into the psyche of a young girl dealing with life and loss on the bayous of Louisiana.
RECALLED - tense thriller set on a military base that centers on an ethical dilemma that recalls the films of John Huston
419: excellent found footage narrative that twists and turns up until the very end.
EASTON’S ARTICLE - indie sci-fi at it’s most inventive
Welcome to Pine Hill: excellent slice-of-life narrative that brims with authenticity.
FUTURE WEATHER - climate change as seen through the eyes of a young girl dealing with tumultuous changes in her life.
EDEN - local director Megan Griffith’s harrowing account of a human trafficking survivor.
THE INVISIBLE WAR - gut-wrenching doc about rape and its aftermath in the military.
V/H/S - one of the best horror anthologies since the original CREEPSHOW; must-see for genre fans.
COMPLIANCE - destined to be one of the most talked about films of SIFF 2012.