The 42nd Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) runs May 19-June 12 and features more than 400 films from 80 countries. For 25 days, movie houses all over the city will participate in one of the largest film festivals in the United States, with more than 150,000 people attending each year! A cinema fan is liable to lose their mind at the dizzying array of cinematic choices over these next three weeks, but do not succumb. This year, SIFF has arranged the films into specialized genres to fit every mood, and I’m here to break it down even further, so there’s no need to get overwhelmed.
In this, the third and final installment, I dole out my choice picks from the final three moods: Open My Eyes, Show Me the World and Dare. (And if you haven’t yet, go back and check out my selections from Part 1 and 2.)
Open My Eyes
SIFF organizers describe Open My Eyes as, “Revealing films and documentaries revolving around history, politics, and contemporary events from around the world.” So put your thinking caps on and let’s talk about some movies.
Finding Kim, USA (2016), 82 min.
This locally made documentary about a transgendered man made its world premiere at SIFF last weekend, but worry not, there’s still one more showing this Tuesday. Finding Kim takes a warm, sometimes-crushing but ultimately hopeful, dare-I-say triumphant look at what it means to finally transition into your true self. The film features interviews with our local sex columnist Dan Savage and performer Buck Angel, who speak candidly about the state of the LGBTQ community in Seattle and elsewhere. I found myself endeared and smitten with Kim’s kindness and self awareness, which I’ve noticed seems to be a happy side-effect of trans people: to spend a lifetime in the wrong body necessarily leads to a lot of self exploration, and the film makes a point of celebrating recent triumphs of the Trans community. Director Aaron Bear, DP Gabriel Bienczycki and the Subject Kim B are scheduled to attend the screening.
Tuesday, May 31, 3:30pm, SIFF Cinema Uptown
Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World, USA (2016), 98 min.
I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to learn that Werner Herzog‘s latest documentary was making an appearance at this year’s SIFF. Herzog’s films, particularly his documentaries, are for me as good as cinema gets. In “Reveries of a Connected World,” Herzog explores the explosion of the internet, its strengths and its consequences. I feel as though this is a subject both close to our psyche and one that we can’t help but want to reflexively avoid. For better or worse, the internet has become an indispensable public utility, the side effects of which need to be confronted. In the film’s trailer, we get a taste of Herzog’s trademark narration when he eerily opines: “All of us collectively have to become the guardians of this fragile new world.”
Saturday, June 4, 8pm, SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival
Naledi: A Baby Elephant’s Tale, USA (2016), 90 min.
I’ve not yet met an elephant in real life, but I have a baby elephant in utero tattooed on my right shoulder, so I feel an eventual meeting is my destiny. In Naledi: A Baby Elephant’s Tale, director Ben Bowie and Geoff Luck chronicle the life of a baby elephant’s struggle to survive in a Botswana rescue camp, and the people who care for her during those tough formative years. This is a nature documentary with humor, tragedy and soul. The directors, along with scientist Dr. Mike Chase are scheduled to attend the screenings.
Sunday, June 5, 4:30pm, SIFF Cinema Egyptian
Monday, June 6, 6pm, Kirkland Performance Center
Show Me the World
In Show Me the World, films from all corners of the globe take us on exotic locales to show us ways of life that are very different from the cozy confines of 3rd and Pine…
The Coop, Turkey (2016), 86 min.
Set in a Turkish mountain village in the 1950s, The Coop tells the story of a young woman who returns back to her husband—and her husband’s new wife—after the fatal disease that was supposed to kill her surprisingly does not. Directed by and starring Ufuk Bayraktar, The Coop makes its world premiere during SIFF’s last weekend.
Saturday, June 11, 8pm, SIFF Cinema Uptown
Sunday, June 12, 11am, Pacific Place
The Curve, Jordan/France/Egypt/United Arab Emirates (2015), 80 min.
What do you get when you combine a Syrian divorcee, a Lebanese TV director and a quiet Palestinian, all of them headed in the same direction on a soul-searching journey across Jordan? A road trip movie! Directed by Rifqi Assaf, The Curve makes its North American premiere next Tuesday at SIFF. Organizers have this to say about the film: “The most recent entry in a long catalogue of films from the Middle East on the experience of displacement, Rifqi Assaf’s impressive debut feature is part road trip movie, part lyrical meditation on the perpetual journey that is exile.”
Tuesday, June 7, 8:30pm, SIFF Cinema Uptown
Thursday, June 9, 3:30pm, SIFF Cinema Uptown
Rainbow, India (2015), 103 min.
Follow a 10-year-old girl and her blind brother through the Indian desert in the orphaned sibling’s sweet and fanciful quest to meet Shah Rukh Khan, a Bollywood star of charitable repute. SIFF organizers describe the plot further; “Despite the obstacles in front of them, Pari and Chotu are determined to complete their excursion to Ranau, the village where Shah Rukh Khan is filming. As they cross the desert planes of Rajasthan, they run into a number of eccentric characters, each one helping to further their journey in one way or another.”
Saturday, June 4, 1pm, Kirkland PC
Sunday, June 5, 11:30am, SIFF Cinema Uptown
These thrilling, dangerous and bizarre films promise to explore provocative questions in (dare-I-say) daring ways.
Body, Poland (2015), 90 min.
“Why the fuck are you trembling?” So says the english subtitles in the trailer for the Polish film Body, directed by Malgorzata Szumowska. In this dark and weird thriller, the stories of a supernatural therapist, a coroner and his teenage daughter intersect in what promises to be complex and unexpected ways. The film earned the already much celebrated Polish director Szumowska a Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Sunday, June 5, 8:30pm, SIFF Cinema Uptown
You’ll Never Be Alone, Chile (2016), 81 min.
Based on a true story, the US premiere of You’ll Never Be Alone tells the frightening true story of a mannequin-factory manager who vows revenge against those who brutally attacked his cross-dressing teenage son. Director Alex Anwandter is scheduled to attend both screenings.
Sunday, June 5, 9pm, Pacific Place
Monday, June 6, 4:30pm, Pacific Place
Tower, USA (2016), 82 min.
The animated documentary Tower chronicles several eye-witness reports from the 1966 massacre at the University of Texas—America’s first mass school shooting. Directed by Keith Matland, the film took home the Grand Jury and Audience Award at SXSW. SIFF organizers describe the film like so: “Tower isn’t a treatise on the psychological effects that would lead one to commit the then-deadliest assault in United States history. Instead, this is a dramatic reconstruction of the day that shook the country, combining rotoscoped animation, archival footage, and present-day interviews with witnesses and survivors to create a moment-by-moment reenactment of those chaotic, terrifying 96 minutes.”
Thursday, June 2, 6:30pm, SIFF Cinema Uptown
Friday, June 3, 4pm, Pacific Place
Be sure to visit SIFF.net For a complete rundown of all the films, parties and other happenings at the 42nd Seattle International Film Festival. #LightTheSIFFUp !