On the cusp of SIFF: highlights of upcoming film festival
Seattle Times movie critic
Ready to sit in the dark?
The 32nd annual Seattle International Film Festival, our city's premiere event for the cinematically obsessed, begins May 25 and continues through June 18, with approximately 270 feature films.
Tickets go on sale this week at the festival box office on the second level of Pacific Place. SIFF members can buy tickets starting Thursday; sales open to the general public next Sunday.
The festival will open with a gala screening at the Paramount of "The Illusionist," Neil Burger's tale of a stage magician in turn-of-the-century Vienna, Austria, based on a short story by Steven Millhauser. The film, which stars Ed Norton, Paul Giamatti and Jessica Biel, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Burger is scheduled to attend the SIFF screening, which will be followed by an opening-night party.
Closing night, at the Neptune, will feature "The Science of Sleep," directed by the ever-inventive Michel Gondry ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Human Nature") and starring Gael García Bernal as a young man who lives in his dreams.
Gala screenings include the local premieres of Robert Altman's "A Prairie Home Companion," based on Garrison Keillor's folksy public-radio show; the Charles Bukowski-inspired drama "Factotum," with Matt Dillon and Lili Taylor; Peter Chan's "Perhaps Love," a Hong Kong musical romance starring Takeshi Kaneshiro ("House of Flying Daggers"); and Paul Dinello's "Strangers with Candy," inspired by the cult-favorite TV show and starring Amy Sedaris.
A strong documentary slate includes local filmmaker Ward Serrill's "The Heart of the Game," Sydney Pollack's "Sketches of Frank Gehry," Freida Lee Mock's "Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner," and Kirby Dick's exposé of the movie-ratings board, "This Film Is Not Yet Rated." "Face the Music," a special series of music documentaries, will be a centerpiece of the festival, featuring the work of such artists as Leonard Cohen, Harry Nilsson, Maria Bethânia, The Police and more.
The "Talking Pictures" program returns, with a new twist: Three prominent Seattleites will introduce a favorite film and lead a post-film discussion. Artist Dale Chihuly will present "Lonely Are the Brave"; restaurateur Tom Douglas has chosen "Hello, Dolly!"; and opera singer Jane Eaglen will present "Anne of a Thousand Days." Other archival presentations include a film noir double feature: "The Window" and "The Man Who Cheated Himself," introduced by noir expert Eddie Muller (author of "Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir").
SIFF will also offer a number of options for all ages. The Films4Families series returns, and will include the Charlie Chaplin comedy "Gold Rush" (following the festival's success last year with Chaplin's "The Circus"). "Monster House," an animated family-film due to open in wide release July 21, will have a special festival screening.
The festival's theater lineup includes a new venue this year: the elegant Lincoln Square Cinema in Bellevue, which will host films June 1-11. The Egyptian, Broadway Performance Hall, Harvard Exit, Neptune and Northwest Film Forum return as venues this year, and those who prefer to wait in line out of the rain will be happy to hear that Pacific Place is back, after an absence last year.
More guests and events will be announced in the coming weeks. A complete guide to the festival will appear in The Seattle Times on Thursday. For more information, see www.seattlefilm.org or call 206-324-9996.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or email@example.com
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