Tuesday, May 24, 2011



Summer’s approaching, which means I’m not being a very good Anthro girl, and things are starting to get busy. The CSA box starts soon, but in the meantime, there’s the Seattle International Film Festival, or SIFF. One of my co-workers organized groups to see some films back in 2005, the first SIFF I was in Seattle for, and I’ve been going ever since. I’d typically just catch a handful of films, but last year I really amped it up, seeing about 18 films and volunteering with SIFF for the first time. This year is shaping up to be like that as well.

(Hipsters, a Russian musical – SIFF 2010)

I feel incredibly lucky to have SIFF here in town – in fact, one of the venues is in my suburb. It’s the largest film festival in the United States, showing more that 400 films during this year’s 25 day festival. But unlike the more “elite” film festivals like Cannes and SXSW, SIFF is a film festival for regular people. The tickets cost about as much as regular movie tickets, but you get to see some films way earlier than other people, see some films that no one else you know will ever get to see, and participate in Q&A sessions with directors and other film guests that attend some of the screenings.

(volunteering at a screening of Kung Fu Panda 2)

One of the great things about an event like this is the immersion. The really dedicated people buy passes and prepare their butts to be in theater seats for three weeks straight. But many people will see 10-20 films each year, with a “I wish I could have seen it” list of 30 other films in their heads. As soon as you step near a SIFF venue, there’s a conversation waiting for you if you want it. And one of the great ways to meet other cinephiles is through volunteering, which also earns you ticket vouchers! Until I started talking to other people, I didn’t know that this year’s festival had a documentary about the guy who does Elmo’s voice. Or a German pirate movie. Or a Blair Witch Project – except with trolls! – movie.

(Eve and the Fire Horse – SIFF 2006)

Even if you don’t live in or near Seattle, there are film festivals in places all over the country. Even with SIFF here, we have various other smaller, more focused festivals, like the Seattle Polish Film Festival, the Seattle True Independent Film Festival, the Seattle Jewish Film Festival, and much more. While looking for reviews of SIFF films this year, I found that many of them had screened at other cities’ film festivals already, places like San Francisco, Vancouver, and Denver. So chances are, you’ve got the opportunity to see some films that never get shown outside the festival circuit, things that are refreshingly different from the things Hollywood keeps throwing at us, eye-opening documentaries, and who knows, maybe your next favorite film.

What’s on my agenda?

Mysteries of Lisbon – Okay, how often do you get to see a 270 minute epic period piece in the theater?

Seattle Stories – Short films are so much fun, and there aren’t many opportunities to see them. Even better that they’re all by Seattle filmmakers because a lot of the settings will be familiar.

The White Meadows – A haunting, otherworldly looking film about a guy who goes around collecting people’s tears. But there’s more to the film than that because Iran got pissed and threw the directors in prison.

Marathon Boy – A documentary about Budhia Singh, a kid from the slums of India who got really famous by doing long distance runs at the age of 4.

…and much more!