SIFF, film lover’s paradise, returns for 35th year

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, May 21, 2009 2:40pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Recession? What recession?

Surely the Gigantor-scaled Seattle International Film Festival had an excuse to downsize itself in this of all years. This annual cinema behemoth is the largest and longest film festival in the U.S., after all.

But, while there might be fewer features this year, SIFF is sprawling all over the place once again. The festival has actually added more venues to its schedule, spreading itself out to West Seattle’s Admiral theater and the Kirkland Performance Center along with its regular haunts.

This 35th SIFF began Thursday night with its gala opening film, the British political satire “In the Loop,” and continues through June 14. On most days, six theaters will be humming away with SIFF screenings.

How to break it all down? Well, there are around 200 feature movies, and almost as many short films. The documentaries alone number more than 50 titles.

Sixty-two countries are represented, so if you have a special interest in any particular corner of the world, chances are you’ll be able to visit there.

Faced with so many moviegoing possibilities, I can only offer a weekly batch of tips on movies I’ve been able to preview (see sidebar). But here are some highlights, overview-wise.

Special guests are a little starrier this year than last year — at least if you consider A-list directors starry. SIFF will host the “Godfather” guru himself, Francis Coppola, bringing his newest film, “Tetro,” to town on June 7. The movie’s star, Vincent Gallo, is also scheduled to attend.

Cinematic provocateur Spike Lee will receive the Golden Space Needle Award tribute on May 27, a Q&A session that will include film clips plus a screening of his new one, “Passing Strange.”

Closer to home, this year’s festival has a bumper crop of locally produced movies, led by Lynn Shelton’s Sundance hit, “Humpday,” and David Russo’s experimental “Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle,” which was produced in part by the Northwest Film Forum.

Local filmmakers have produced documentaries, too, including Sandy Cioffi’s “Sweet Crude,” which examines the oil industry in Nigeria, and Kevin Tomlinson’s “Back to the Garden,” a look-back at a hippie gathering in Eastern Washington. Peter Esmonde’s “Trimpin: The Sound of Invention” reveals the world of Trimpin, Seattle-based artist-composer.

The fest segment I always scan first is its collection of “Archival Presentations,” the blasts from the past. This year Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne visits; he’ll present four titles for which the word “classic” is a foregone conclusion: “The Third Man,” “Dodsworth,” “Sunset Boulevard” and the Errol Flynn version of “The Adventures of Robin Hood.”

Sergio Leone’s marvelous 1968 epic, “Once Upon a Time in the West,” will screen, and so will Blake Edwards’ zany “The Great Race,” a lavish slapstick comedy from 1965 about a ‘round-the-world road race.

I’m looking forward to seeing a couple of rarities for the first time: an early Italian feature by Michelangelo Antonioni, “Le Amiche” (1955), and a Chinese silent from 1931, “Wild Rose.”

A group of “Films4Families” will provide kid-friendly fare, a great way to introduce future movie fans to the habit of seeing movies from different countries. Those show at Saturday and Sunday matinees.

Many filmmakers and actors will visit with their films, and gala parties are scattered throughout the fest.

You can buy passes for all or part of SIFF, or individual tickets for movies and events; more information is at www.siff.net.

Among the theaters participating in the festival are SIFF Cinema, Uptown, Pacific Place, Egyptian, Harvard Exit, Neptune and the Northwest Film Forum. The final weekend, including the closing night film “OSS 117: Lost in Rio” (a sequel to a hilarious French spy spoof), will also rope in the Cinerama.

With that many venues cranking out the movies, you almost can’t avoid ending up at the Seattle International Film Festival this year. And with that many choices, it might be tough to pick a destination on any given day. A good dilemma to have.

Talk to us

More in Life

Shawn McQuiller of Kool & The Gang performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, on Sunday, May 8, 2022, in New Orleans. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Kool & The Gang and Average White Band are coming soon to a casino near you. Queensryche also is due in Arlington.

Preston Brust, left, and Chris Lucas of LOCASH perform during CMA Fest 2022 on Thursday, June 8, 2022, at the Chevy Riverfront Stage in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

The country music duo Locash drops by the Angel of the Winds Casino on Saturday. And there’s the Summer Meltdown festival at its new home near Snohomish all weekend.

‘Poco Orange’ Red Hot Poker. (Terra Nova Nurseries)
Warmer weather means brighter, hotter colors in the garden

Here are seven plants that will bring a blazing pop of color to your outdoor spaces.

An easy one-mile loop near the visitor center at Seaquest State Park explores the edge of Silver Lake.
(Scott Hewitt/The Columbian)
Discover seven hidden gems not far from the super slab

Weekend trips: Next time you’re making the I-5 slog toward Oregon, check out some of these parks and preserves just off the freeway corridor.

Caption: Now’s a great time to stock up on free Covid tests available to Washington State residents at: https://sayyescovidhometest.org.
COVID-19’s behind her except for a nagging cough

But things might have been much different — in a bad way — without testing and vaccines.

The blended-families challenge requires patience, maturity

Don’t expect miracles — it can be rough going for some time. Get professional help if you need it.

Her Turo rental was repossessed with valuable items inside

When Michelle Marshall’s Turo rental gets repossessed, the car-sharing company offers her a partial refund. But what about her son’s expensive epilepsy medication? Is Turo responsible for that?

Lee Oskar and his dog Tex inside his art studio in his home on Wednesday, March 2, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Harmonica whiz Lee Oskar is also a pro with a paintbrush

Oskar’s music and art studios are in his Everett home. The former member of the 1970s band War is now 74, and still rocks “Low Rider.”

The 2022 WM Recycle Corps interns are part of WM’s recycling education and outreach team.
WM Recycle Corps interns return after two-year COVID slowdown

The collegiate interns are back in the community to help improve recycling habits and reduce waste.

Caption: At Flight Room in Lynnwood, aerial fitness poses like “vampire” use every muscle in your body.
Fitness takes flight at new aerial studio in Lynnwood

Jennifer Bardsley finds benefits and “silk kisses” from doing aerial yoga at Lynnwood studio.

Photo Caption: This carved shelf brought $2,500 at New Haven Auctions. Decorations and symbols associated with the Odd Fellows add to its appeal.
Odd Fellows iconography adds to this carved shelf’s value

Fun fact: The Odd Fellows is believed to have originated in medieval trade guilds, with “odd fellow” meaning someone who did odd jobs for a living.

The Limelight Prime Panicle Hydrangea. (Proven Winners)
3 new “pee gee” hydrangeas for gardeners to salivate over

These new shrubs boast better flower color and, in some cases, more compact forms that fit better in smaller gardens.