The 43rd Annual Seattle International Film Festival Returns! May 18-June 11, 2017

Posted on May 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
7 mins


North America’s biggest film festival returns to Seattle for three full weeks of local, national and international cinema. The 43rd Annual Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF 2017) kicks off on Wednesday, May 18 and runs through Sunday, June 11 at venues all over Seattle and beyond. Here are just a few of the highlights festival-goers can look forward to this year.

Opening Night Gala: The Big Sick 

The festivities begin with the always glamorous Opening Night Gala, Wednesday, May 18 at McCaw Hall. The night starts with a screening of The Big Sick, starring Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan. Directed by Michael Showalter, the highly-anticipated comedy/drama/romance features cultures clashing, mysterious illnesses and meddling families—all the best things! Director Showalter, Actor Kumail Nanjiani and writer Emily V. Gordon are all expected to attend the premiere. Following the film, ticket holders will make their way across the street to Fisher Pavilion for the city’s biggest and best party. (Just check out our coverage of last year’s party if you don’t believe us!)

You can check out the film’s trailer here:

When: Thursday, May 18, 7pm

Where: Marion Oliver McCaw Hall (film), Fischer Pavilion (party) (321 Mercer St)

General admission tickets start at $75 ($65 for SIFF members), which includes admission to the film and party, plus two drink tickets. $100 buys you unlimited drinks. Or, splurge on a $275 Red Carpet Experience, which includes all of the above, plus reserved seating, valet parking and a premium gift bag.

’80s Teen Movie High School Reunion

What film festival would be complete without a dance number? Head to Neptune Theatre on Friday, May 26 for a dance party and celebration of 1980s film classics like Heathers, Footloose, The Breakfast Club and so much more. Stay for performances by Ian Bell’s Brown Derby Series and live covers by 80s Invasion, plus a Reunion Yearbook, custom nametags and an interactive scavenger hunt.

When: Friday, May 26, 9pm

Where: Neptune Theatre (1303 NE 45th St)

Tickets are $15 for this 21+ event

An Afternoon with Sam Elliot

Other festival highlights include An Afternoon with Sam Elliot, Saturday, May 27 at SIFF Cinema Egyptian. Perhaps you remember him as the narrating cowboy in The Big Lebowski? Or as the rugged leading man in 2015’s I’ll See You In My Dreams? Join SIFF as we celebrate the man of the hour. The afternoon starts at 4pm with a Q&A with Elliot. After that, enjoy a screening of his new film The Hero, with director Brett Haley in attendance.

When: Saturday, May 27, 4pm

Where: SIFF Cinema Egyptian (805 E Pine St)

Tickets are $35 (or $30 for SIFF members)

The Little Hours + Saturday Night Party

The Saturday night hits don’t stop there! Just down the road, starting at 7pm at AMC Pacific 11, catch a screening of The Little Hours. This depraved comedy about bad nuns in the middle ages doesn’t reach wide audiences until the end of June, so why not beat the crowds and see it now? The film stars Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, Kate Micuci, Molly Shannon, Nick Offerman, Fred Armison and Dave Franco. Director Jeff Baena, actor/co-producer Aubrey Plaza and producer Liz Destro are scheduled to attend the screening.

After the movie, head to Seattle Art Museum for a reception to remember.

When: Saturday, May 27, 7pm

Where: AMC Pacific Place (film) (600 Pine St) Seattle Art Museum (reception) (1300 1st Ave)

A Tribute to Anjelica Houston

When it comes to powerhouse women in Hollywood, they don’t get much better than this vixen. SIFF honors a legend in style at A Tribute to Anjelica Houston on Wednesday, June 7 at SIFF Cinema Egyptian. Celebrate a career spanning more than five decades with a Q&A (alongside director Theresa Rebeck) plus the world premiere of her new film, Trouble. 

General admission tickets are $50. Or else splurge on the $150 VIP treatment, which includes an exclusive reception before the show with hors d’oeuvres, drinks (21+ only!) and the lady of the hour in attendance.

When: Wednesday, June 7, 7pm

Where: SIFF Cinema Egyptian (805 E Pine St)

Closing Night Gala: The Young Karl Marx 

Finally, what better way to close out a near month-long film festival than with a lush period drama? Head to Cinerama on Sunday, July 11 for director Raoul Peck’s latest, The Young Karl Marx. The film stars August Diehl as a young Karl Marx as he formulates the foundations of Marxist theory! Does this guy know how to party or what?

After the film, head to MOHAI for a well-deserved closing night party, complete with tasty snacks, drinks and desserts.

Check out the film’s trailer here (especially if you speak German).

When: Sunday, June 11, 6pm

Where: Cinerama (film) (2100 4th Ave); MOHAI (party) (860 Terry Ave N)


Those are just a few samplings of some of the parties and events that SIFF 2017 has to offer. Be sure to visit for a complete schedule of events, ticket information and more. And check back often to VANGUARD Seattle for more festival coverage.

Molly Laich is a writer and media fan. You can find her at and and on twitter @MollyL