SIFF technically runs year round, but the actual Seattle International Film Festival is now in full swing until June 10th. Last year’s SIFF viewing was a lot of fun, both volunteering and viewing. This year is a bit more quiet on the SIFF front for us since we have other obligations and trips. I do have picks (as always) even though some of the films have passed or are already sold out but they will remain on my radar to check out at a later date and time. See you at the theater!
A Checkout Girl’s Big Adventures (France) :: Anna Sam’s bestselling memoir inspired this enchanting yet reality-grounded romantic fable. Anyone who’s spent time in retail will empathize with her heroine, Solweig (Déborah François), a literature graduate who dreamed of becoming a teacher, but became a checkout girl in a big box store. With their father in a coma, she looks after her 10-year-old brother and vents her frustrations through an anonymous blog. “Who’d be a checkout girl by vocation?” concludes one entry. (read more…)
Breathing (Austria) :: The remarkably assured directorial debut from veteran Austrian actor Karl Markovics (best known for The Counterfeiters) negotiates an intriguing interplay between the perilousness of youth and the inevitability of death. Roman is an inmate at a juvenile detention center whose last hope of parole rests on his ability to hold down a job, in this case, as an assistant in a Vienna morgue. (read more…)
Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best (USA) :: Some of the world’s greatest songs have been created by perfectly-paired weirdos. Ryan O’ Nan’s directorial debut not only explores this premise, it celebrates it. Alex (O’Nan, who also wrote the screenplay and music) is an emotional and professional mess whose life is on a steep downward slide. Jim (Michael Weston) is a socially awkward misfit who lives with his grandfather. After being dropped by their respective bands, the two have no choice but to join forces. Enter Cassidy (Arielle Kebbel) a bored rock ’n’ roller who offers to manage the bumbling duo. Love, heartfelt hijinks, and yes, a “Battle of the Bands” ensues. (read more…)
Dreams of a Life (United Kingdom) :: In December 2003, Joyce Carol Vincent died while wrapping Christmas gifts and watching television in her north London flat. The cause of her death remains unknown to this day, as her remains were not discovered until three years later, sitting on the couch with her television set still running. In this “dramatized documentary,” director Carol Morley asks, how could this happen in Europe’s largest, most populous city? (read more…)
Fat Kid Rules the World (USA) :: Actor-turned-director Matthew Lillard successfully translates K.L. Going’s novel into a hilarious and deeply touching cinematic examination of two societal outcasts who have all but given up on the world. Troy, an overweight teen, lives in his fantasies and decides to end it all by stepping in front of a bus. Marcus, a druggie and high school dropout, saves Troy at the last moment and begins using him for occasional money to buy food or drugs. (read more…)
Grassroots (USA) :: “Monorail.” When Grant Cogswell hears that word in 2001, he sees an inexpensive, elegant form of mass transit, a Jetsonian future of silent public transportation and unclogged streets. In order to make his dream a reality, Grant needs to run for City Council. But there’s one problem: Grant is a loud, obnoxious, sometime music critic for The Stranger, with no connections and no voice in Seattle politics. How can Grant campaign for office? (read more…)
Keep Calm & Carry On (United Kingdom) :: Visit the fish-and-chips van, or perhaps break out the tea and crumpets, while enjoying some of the best short films the British Isles has to offer.
King Curling (Norway) :: 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 until he snapped under championship pressure. Diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder and subsequently banned from competition after his outburst, Truls has become a pill-popping flunky to his wife Sigrid and her dog Pelle, until he learns that his old coach, Gordon, is near death. (read more…)
Lola Versus (USA) :: At age 29, Lola (Greta Gerwig) thinks she’s right where she ought to be: finishing her dissertation and cozily nested with her longtime boyfriend, who surprises her one morning with a proposal. But just as all the details get settled, the prospective groom gets cold feet, forcing Lola to restructure her life and reconsider the men of New York City. Helping her get back in the saddle are her two best friends, the obviously lovelorn Henry (Hamish Linklater) and the randy, consummate single gal Alice (Zoe Lister-Jones), who brings Lola down to earth by sharing her own relationship struggles and search for romance. (read more…)
Moonrise Kingdom (USA) :: When director Wes Anderson hit American cinema screens with his critically acclaimed debut Bottle Rocket, it heralded the arrival of a singular new talent. Among his early fans was Martin Scorsese, who wrote in Esquire magazine, “He knows how to convey the simple joys and interactions between people so well and with such richness. This kind of sensibility is rare in movies.” In his newest film Moonrise Kingdom, Anderson delivers a wonderfully droll yet touching comedy filtered through his own unique vision. Set on an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965, it tells the story of Suzy and Sam, two 12-year-olds who fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away together into the wilderness. As a violent storm begins to brew off shore, various authorities begin a frenzied search, including Suzy’s parents (Frances McDormand and Bill Murray), Sam’s summer camp troop led by Ward (Edward Norton), and the local sheriff (Bruce Willis). Full of Anderson’s trademark dry wit and color-coordinated formalism, Moonrise Kingdom is a sweet, nostalgic romp that will bring out the kid in all of us.
Safety Not Guaranteed (USA) :: “WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.” When Seattle magazine writer Jeff (Jake M. Johnson of Fox’s The New Girl) stumbles upon this unusual classified ad, he heads off to the scenic Washington coast, accompanied by recent college grad Darius (Aubrey Plaza of NBC’s Parks and Recreation) and nerdy intern Arnau to investigate its origins. (read more…)
Starbuck (Canada) :: A massive box office success in Québec, Ken Scott’s comedic Starbuck tracks a likeable middle-aged loser as he wrestles with regret and responsibility. Hapless deliveryman David Wozniak gets parking tickets at every single stop along his route, has thugs on his tail for massive overdue loans, and his girlfriend announced that she was pregnant just before dumping him. These, however, are the least of David’s concerns when he returns home to find a lawyer in his kitchen. The past is back to haunt him in the form of a class-action lawsuit, launched by 142 of the 533 children who resulted from the 648 sperm donations he deposited over 20 years ago. (read more…)
SuperFly :: SIFF FutureWave continues its exciting partnership with Longhouse Media to present the SuperFly Filmmaking Workshop for Youth. The SuperFly short films will open the FutureWave Shorts program. Cinema lovers of all ages will enjoy this very special film event that gives voice to the future of filmmaking.
The Beautiful Game (USA) :: “Soccer has a following larger than any one religion,” says Archbishop Desmond Tutu in this dynamic portrait of six Africans whose lives are impacted by the sport. And like a religion, soccer unifies and uplifts. For some, it provides an intense cultural bond, gluing African cultures together. For others, the sport creates opportunities to escape crippling poverty and hardship, to gain scholarships and a chance to choose their own fates. The Beautiful Game showcases young players from Nigeria, Ghana, The Ivory Coast, South Africa, Egypt, and Cameroon, their stories told with scenic backdrops as unique as each player’s life. (read more…)
The Last Man on Earth (Italy) :: Things are tough in 21st century Italy, just as they are everywhere in the world. The economy has tanked and Luca is lost, lonely, and confused. But the announced and imminent arrival of aliens from outer space means everything is about to change. It’s all everyone can talk about—except Luca. Instead, he’s stuck managing the demons left behind when his mother abandoned her family when Luca was a young boy. Now the grown man is a frightened woman hater, and the only woman he can talk to comfortably is his transsexual friend he’s known since childhood. (read more…)
The Mexican Suitcase (Mexico) :: In 2007, three mysterious, old suitcases were discovered among the belongings of the Mexican ambassador to Vichy France. Inside were approximately 4,500 negatives shot during the Spanish Civil War by a triumvirate of revered war photographers: David “Chim” Seymour, Gerda Taro, and Robert Capa. They were subsequently returned to Cornell Capa, the younger brother of Robert, and founder of the International Center of Photography in New York City. (read more…)
Your Sister’s Sister (USA) :: Hometown heroine Lynn Shelton triumphantly returns with her fourth feature and the follow-up to the SIFF 2009 favorite Humpday with this engaging, humor-infused relationship drama, shot entirely in the Northwest. Your Sister’s Sister marks the first time in the history of SIFF that work by a Seattle-based filmmaker has opened the festival. A year after his brother’s death, Jack (Mark Duplass) is alternately emotionally wobbly and outright volatile. When he makes a scene at a memorial party, good friend Iris (Emily Blunt) arranges for Mark to take a solitary retreat at her father’s cabin on a Puget Sound island, theorizing this isolation will offer closure and spiritual relief. (read more…)