After 15 days of dramas, thrillers and comedies you might just be wondering what else could possibly screen at the Seattle International Film Festival that has the potential to surprise, enlighten and entertain. Wonder no more, as SIFF kicks of its Docs Weekend featuring some of the best real life stories to hit the big screen this year.
From music to food and sports to politics, more than 20 documentaries find their way to SIFF venues this weekend – more than enough to appeal to just about any filmgoer’s interest.
You’ll still find plenty of drama, thrills and laughs in these docs and in many instances you’ll have the chance to share in the emotional ride right along side the filmmakers as they take to the stage after the screenings to continue the conversation.
You’re not going to find a bad doc in the bunch, but here are seven recommendations to get you started.
Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth
30 years ago Alice Walker became the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for her novel “The Color Purple.” For some, that’s about the only story line of Walker’s that is known. But this doc delves deep to highlight Walker’s political and social activism both past and present and includes plenty of insight from not only Walker herself but also from the likes of Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, Howard Zinn and Whoopi Goldberg.
Screens Fri. at 7 pm and Sat. at 10 am at the Egytian Theatre. Alice Walker and Director Prathiba Parmer are scheduled to attend.
Mussels in Love
Okay, so the mussels aren’t actually in love. Instead, this doc is all about the Netherlands mussel and the people who lovingly cultivate and care for them as they make their way to kitchen tables and clam bakes around the country. There is of course some controversy on how best to harvest these beauties to balance the ongoing health of the shellfish and the livelihoods of those in the industry. Beautifully shot – you’ll never look at mussels the same way again.
Screens Mon. at 7 pm at Harvard Exit (also screens next Sat., June 8 at Kirkland Performance Center).
What’s with wine and SIFF this year? This time you get a more global look at the wine industry. From France to China there are a lot of factors that drive up the price you pay for that bottle of wine that sits at your table. This time around it’s the growing of appreciation in China of the coveted Bordeaux wines of France. When you have to dig a little deeper for that already pricey bottle of Bordeaux you’ll have a little bit better understanding of why.
Screens Tuesday, June 4 at 6:00 pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown
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.
Screens Sat. at 1:00 pm at Harvard Exit.
Wine lovers are front and center at this doc. But you don’t have to like wine to be thoroughly engaged with the outcome. This doc focuses on four sommeliers who are trying to do what very few people have accomplished in the wine world – to become Master Sommeliers. The testing is rigorous, studying for the exam can be obsessive and it can eventually end up taking a toll on family and friends. The next time you are in a restaurant and order a bottle of wine you’ll understand the lengths that sommeliers go to in order to match the perfect bottle with your meal.
Screens Sun at 4 pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown.
Twenty Feet From Stardom
SIFF’s Centerpiece Gala. You have heard these voices before – you just probably didn’t know it. These are the voices you hear singing the “doo-wops” and other background harmonies on many of the hit songs. But more than singing a mere “doo-wop” these are talented singers who would have no problem commanding center stage. But the percentage of backup singers who transition to the front of the stage is astronomically small. This doc examines the varied reasons why many stay twenty feet from stardom. Plus you get some killer music throughout.
Screens Sat. at 5:30 pm at Egyptian Theatre.
Inequality for All
Yes, the widening income gap in America is insane. And yes, there is probably not a better person than former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich to boil it all down for us and to present his thoughts in a compelling and digestible manner. Director Jacob Kornbluth follows Reich around from his packed Wealth & Poverty class at Berkeley to meetings on Capitol Hill as he hammers home the fact and figures that would seem (at least outside the Beltway) to point to a solution. University of Washington grad, civic activist and billionaire Nick Hanauer gets screen time and appears to agree.
Screens Sun. at 6:30 pm and Mon. at 4:30 pm at the Egyptian Theatre. Director Jacob Kornbluth and Nick Hanauer are scheduled to participate on a panel on after Sunday’s screening.