Could it really be that it was only a week ago that the Seattle International Film Festival kicked off its mondo-sized celebration of film to a packed house at McCaw Hall? Yes, and believe it or not, after seven days and more than one hundred films under its belt SIFF still has another 300-plus films to pack into the fest’s remaining 17 days. No easy task.
To help spread the cinematic love, SIFF is taking its show on the road this week and next. Lynn Shelton’s most recent film, “Touchy Feely,” got the star treatment last night at the opening night for SIFF films that will be screening at the Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center through May 29.
From Renton to Kirkland, SIFF throws another opening night fete – this time for film goers
on the Eastside. Kicking off the Kirkland portion of SIFF is British/Greek comedy “Papadopoulos & Sons” which screens May 30 at the Kirkland Performance Center.
In between, there are a ton of films to navigate through. Here are 10 recommendations for week 2 at SIFF.
This is a visual delight. Director Mikhail Segal gives a look into contemporary Russia we seldom see as he weaves the story through the hands of five different characters, each reflecting a unique look on some of the evolving changes taking place in modern Russia. This tale is propelled by a short story manuscript that, after being rejected by publishers, ends up making its way back into the lives of the very same people who turned it down. Although episodic by nature, Segal manages to pull everything together and “Short Stories” comes across as one smart and entertaining package. “Short Story’ screens Sat. and Mon. at Pacific Place Cinemas and Wed. at Kirkland Performance Arts Center.
A Band Called Death
The name says it all. How can you succeed if you are in a band that goes by the name of Death… especially in the 70s. Complicating matters further is that this is Detroit in the 70s and Death is the first black punk band to be playing loud and fast in a town that is known for its sure and steady Motown sound. There are indeed a lot of complicating factors taking place in the lives of the band members and this doc faithfully chronicles the steps that led Death to be shunned in the 70s only to be rediscovered and heralded 35 years later. “A Band Called Death” screens Sat. and Tue. at SIFF Cinema Uptown.
Craziness took place on Capitol Hill 20 years ago when key Senators sat in committee to hear Anita Hill’s sexual harassment testimony involving then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. But they did far more than listen to Hill’s testimony – which is were craziness ensued. As maddening as it is to relive the all out character assassination of Anita Hill waged by our elected officials it is an important part of history that should not be forgotten. Director Freida Mock focuses not only on the travesties of the hearings but also the positive effects that Hill continues to have to this day as she tirelessly works to advance the discussion of gender inequality in America. “Anita” screens Sat. at Harvard Exit, Sun. at Renton IKEA Performance Center and Mon. at the Egyptian Theatre.
A quiet, but powerful slice of life. This intimate portrait of a working-class family draws you in from the very beginning. A jarring accident begrudgingly unites a family that has had many years and miles come between them. Emotionally at odds, this family haltingly finds a way to reconnect and, in the end, they set back out on their own paths with a renewed sense of self and family. “Camion” screens Wed. and Thur. at SIFF Cinema Uptown.
You know it takes place, but to see it on the big screen only brings it closer to home. “Dirty Wars” is an indepth, first-hand look at the covert wars that the United States sponsors across the globe. Based on the investigative reporting of Jeremy Scahill, director Richard Rowley takes us to the fuzzy front line of the many questionable practices that take place in the name of God and Country. “Dirty Wars” screens Fri. at Harvard Exit and Sat. at SIFF Cinema Uptown.
The Punk Singer
Even if you’re not familiar with Kathleen Hanna or the riot grrrl movement you’ll still find plenty in this story to have you bopping along in your seat. A look at the lead singer of the seminal riot grrrl band Bikini Kill, Hanna is once again front and center with a clear and powerful voice. Director Sini Anderson sheds light on why Hanna suddenly dropped out of the music scene almost 10 years ago and what she has been doing since her days out front with Bikini Kill and Le Tigre. Great archival footage and interviews with Hanna and former band members lend to a fascinating look behind the hype. “The Punk Singer” screens Fri. and Sun. at Harvard Exit.
Talk about skeletons in the closet. A young lawyer uncovers some pretty nasty war-time secrets that some people would obviously want to remain buried. Taught from start to finish this intense thriller from Belgrade is a delight. “Redemption Street” screens Mon. and Tue. at SIFF Cinema Uptown
The Spectacular Now
An engaging performance by Miles Teller sets this pic apart from others released in a similar vein. Based on the best-selling novel from Tim Tharp, “The Spectacular Now” takes a look at a couple of teens that are trying to find their way through the final years of High School. This is not an adolescent, sophomoric romp you might typically see hitting the big screen. This is smart, funny and has a heart. “The Spectacular Now” screens Fri. at SIFF Cinema Uptown and Sat. at Harvard Exit.
You may recall the news back in 2008 about the 11 climbers who lost their lives as they attempted to scale K2 – also known as the deadliest mountain in the world. “The Summit” brings those fateful three days back to life with found footage, reenactments that will make you second guess if it is real footage or not, and interviews with some of the survivors. It’s a harrowing story and at times you wonder why anybody would attempt to conquer such a beast. “The Summit” screens Thur. at SIFF Cinema Uptown and Sat. at Harvard Exit.
This is the latest from Lynn Shelton and she’s working with some big names this time around including Allison Janney and Ellen Page. Fans of SIFF have been known to flock to Shelton’s films and this one should be no different. Get your tickets early as it only screens one time in Seattle. “Touchy Feely” screens Sat. at the Egyptian Theatre.