SIFF, edition 38April 30, 2012 @ 10:40 am (Updated: 8:36 am - 5/10/12 )
The Seattle International Film Festival, the largest film festival in the country, kicks off in a couple of weeks, May 17 to be exact. But tickets go on sale this Thursday, so here's a quick preview of what's coming.With 273 feature films from 75 different countries there's obviously too much to cover, but I can at least spotlight a few of the highlights.
For starters, despite how far-flung the origins of many of these movies are, the Opening Night and Closing Night Galas feature a couple of local films. The Opening Night film is YOUR SISTER'S SISTER, starring Emily Blunt. It's directed by Seattle's much-lauded Lynn Shelton and was filmed here in the Pacific Northwest. Your Sister's Sister is that rare romantic comedy that works, primarily because it's grounded in a recognizable reality rather than a sitcom-y universe.
And the Closing Night feature is GRASSROOTS, a comedy about local writer Grant Cogswell who ran an unconventional campaign for city council in an effort to bring a city-wide Monorail system to Seattle. Jason Biggs of American Pie fame (!) plays Cogswell.
As for the rest of the festival, I want to dispel the notion that it's just a bunch of obscure subtitled foreign films. In fact, there are over 120 films in English, 89 of them American, and some are pretty high-profile.
For instance, the new Pixar film, BRAVE, about a feisty young princess who doesn't want to play by society's rules, premieres at SIFF, before it opens across the country. Other SIFF films with recognizable names:
-- Twilight star Robert Pattinson steps outside his
vampire universe into 19th century Paris in "BEL AMI" ...
-- Bruce Wills and Bill Murray star in the new Wes Anderson film, Moonrise Kingdom. Anderson (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums,
Fantastic Mr Fox) is one of our most inventive and original directors, so the buzz around this film is getting loud.
-- Academy-award nominee Michele Williams stars with Seth Rogen (of all people) in "TAKE THIS WALTZ," a movie that's getting a lot of buzz for edgy comedian Sarah Silverman's naked performance (and I'm not talking emotionally naked). I have not seen this yet, but Silverman won't shut up about it!
-- Chris Rock stars in 2 DAYS IN NEW YORK, a relationship movie with Julie Delpy, following in the footsteps of 2 Days in Paris, a film that played the festival a couple of years ago.
-- Frieda Pinto of Slumdog Millionaire fame stars in TRISHNA, an Indian version of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles, last done by Roman Polanski with Nastassja Kinski. British Michael Winterbottom directs.
-- And festival favorite Paul Giamatti is back in a comedy horror film "JOHN DIES AT THE END."
Personally, I'm most interested in a 900-minute documentary called THE STORY OF FILM: AN ODYSSEY. That's not a typo - it's really 15 hours long and I must admit, that's part of its appeal.
And then finally, yes, there are tons and tons of obscure, subtitled foreign films to choose from, movies like THE EMPTY HOME from Kyrgystan, LOVERBOY from Romania, or F... MY WEDDING from Chile. There's bound to be a number of gems in the mix when you have 273 films to choose from.
SIFF runs from May 17 to June 10.
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