SIFF 2013 Opening Weekend Picks


By this point you’re either shaking off a hangover from rubbing elbows with the Whedonverse at last night’s Seattle International Film Festival or regretting that you didn’t get a ticket. Or maybe you’re talking about the new Star Trek or the latest dispatches from Cannes, that “other” film festival conveniently cross-scheduled against our own local treasure. In any case, if you’re in Seattle, it’s time to dive into SIFF 2013, which starts regular screenings tonight and runs for 24 more days. Here are a few prognostications from your friends at the SunBreak to get your feet wet with weekend filmgoing.


Frances Ha (USA, 2012) Master of dry witty melancholy, Noah Baumbach is back with Greta Gerwig (girlfriend, writing partner, indie darling) in the role of young adult trying to make sense of it all. Here, we follow her struggling modern dancer as she apartment hops around New York and further afield trying to, you know, find herself. As far as the Baumbach canon goes, this one looks to be on more funny than heartbreaking end of the spectrum.

  • Friday, May 17, Pacific Place Cinemas, 9:45 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 18, Pacific Place Cinemas, 4 p.m.

Populaire In a typically French story, a terrible secretary with supernatural typing skills takes the speed typing world by storm under the tutelage of her boss (Romain Duris). Will these crazy kids find love and/or glory?

  • Saturday, May 18, Pacific Place, 6:30 p.m. (Party at Il Fornaio with fashion by Oska follows the screening).
  • Tuesday, May 21, Egyptian Theatre, 6:30 p.m.


Brit Marling plays a woman who infiltrates a group of eco-terrorists, only to become smitten with the enclave’s enigmatic leader in The East, the latest from Sound of My Voice director Zal Batmanglij. The movie’s rapturous reception at Sundance and a strong cast (including Ellen Page, Alexander Skarsgard, and Julia Ormond) portend a riveting ride.

  • Saturday, May 18, SIFF Cinema Uptown, 9 p.m.
  • Friday, May 24, Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center, 8:30 p.m.

Byzantium The last time Crying Game director Neil Jordan turned his attention to the vampire condition, we got Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt playing house with Kirsten Dunst in old timey New Orleans. In this gothic tale, two lady vampires (Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan) visit to the seaside Byzantium Hotel while on the run from an vampire hunters. Bloodsucking, humane and otherwise, ensue.

  • Friday, May 17, Harvard Exit, 9:30 p.m.
  • Saturday May 18, Pacific Place, Pacific Place, 1 p.m.

The Deep Among the few Icelandic entries in this year’s festival (the other focuses on the country’s infamous penis museum), this one dramatizes the harrowing true story of one man’s whose survival for hours in the icy waters following a 1984 shipwreck made him a national hero and scientific curiosity.

  • Friday, May 17, Pacific Place Cinemas, 12 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 18, Egyptian Theatre, 12:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 19, Egyptian Theatre, 9 p.m.


The Act of Killing This documentary, in which perpetrators of Indonesian death squads pridefully re-create their atrocities in Hollywood style, was the most favorited among this year’s SIFF Programmer Picks. If their universal acclaim for Joshua Oppenheimer’s presentation of horrific crimes as “film noir tropes, elaborate musical numbers, and heroic cowboys” doesn’t convince you, perhaps hearing that Errol Morris and Werner Herzog are among the film’s producers will.

  • Saturday, May 18, Harvard Exit, 4 p.m.
  • Wednesday, May 22, Harvard Exit, 9:30 p.m.

A Band Called Death tells one of those stories that sets the hearts of record-store crate-diggers aflutter: Sibling power-trio cuts volcanic rock record that prefigures punk rock’s screaming breach-birth by a good two to three years; demo of said rock record languishes, dust-caked in an attic, for decades; demo resurfaces in the 21st century to blow minds and shine an overdue light on unsung Afro-punk geniuses. Affecting family dynamics, riveting rock music history, and killer riffs? Sounds like a no-brainer.

  • Saturday, May 18, SIFF Cinema Uptown, 3 p.m.
  • Tuesday, May 28, SIFF Cinema Uptown, 9 p.m.

We Steal Secrets: the Story of WikiLeaks Although the WikiLeaks saga is, by now, well traveled ground, it’s probably worth another look when the perspective is coming from Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side). Here he turns his attention to this important story of mysterious founder Julian Assange, U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning, and the largest leak of classified documents ever released to the public. Gibney and producer Marc Shmuger will be on hand for both screenings.

  • Friday, May 17, SIFF Cinema Uptown, 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 18, SIFF Cinema Uptown, 11 p.m.

Our Nixon (USA, 2013): A giddy Super8 portrait of the Nixon administration shot in the throes of youthful enthusiasm by eventual Watergate conspirators H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, and Dwight Chapin. Director Penny Lane unearthed this unintentional chronicle of government slipping from wide eyed joy to paranoid corruption from long-forgotten archives seized during the Watergate investigation. Producer Brian Frye will be on hand for Q&A after both screenings.

  • Saturday, May 18, Harvard Exit, 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 19, Harvard Exit, 1:30 p.m.

Furever Not all dogs go to heaven; some go to the taxidermist. In this documentary, Amy Finkel explores the ways that American families memorialize their beloved household pets.

  • Saturday, May 18, SIFF Cinema Uptown, 6 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 19, Harvard Exit, 11 a.m.
  • Sunday, June 9, 6:30 PM Egyptian Theatre, 6:30 p.m.


The Fest’s Midnight Movie series looks to be off to an engaging and suitably bloody start tonight with 100 Bloody Acres, an Australian black comedy about two brothers   who’ve created a top-quality organic fertilizer, thanks to one hell of a secret ingredient. If the trailers and advance word around the horror-nerd campfire are indicators, this should be a blast. 

  • Friday, May 17, Egyptian Theatre, Midnight
  • Wednesday, May 22, SIFF Cinema Uptown, 9:30 p.m.

Flaws and all, the omnibus chiller V/H/S was hands-down the scariest thing Tony saw at SIFF 2012. V/H/S 2 promises more of the same, and if it mines the found-footage-horror vein with its predecessor’s ferocious effectiveness, there won’t be an unbitten nail in the house.

  • Saturday, May 18, Egyptian Theatre, Midnight
  • Tuesday, May 21, Pacific Place Cinemas, 9:30 p.m.

We’re not saying that you should see it, but we feel that it’s our duty to let you know that not only does there exist a movie in which Robin Wright and Naomi Watts act as as mothers who seduce each other’s sexy surfer sons on a seaside vacation, but that Two Mothers is screening twice this weekend during the festival. Do what you will with that information, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.

  • Friday, May 17, Egyptian Theatre, 9:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 18, Egyptian Theatre, 3 p.m.


This weekend features a few events and panels, including An Afternoon with Peter Greenway to coincide with a screening of Goltzius and the Pelican Company (Sun, 4 p.m.). He’ll also be around after the regular screening (Friday, 6:30 p.m.) to answer your questions about his latest artistic provocation: a story of sixteenth century erotic biblical engravings.

  • Friday, May 17, Egyptian Theater, 6:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 19, SIFF Cinema Uptown, 4 p.m. (part of An Afternoon With Peter Greenaway)


As usual, check the SIFF website/various social media accounts for the latest updates (which seem to be going up on the SIFF website as a pdf by day under the Festival Updates heading), but as of this compilation the following weekend showing were looking low on spare tickets:


  • Secret Festival


Want to spend an evening with Portlandia’s Mister Mayor? Buy your ticket early: the event includes the presentation of the Seattle International Film Festival Award for Outstanding Achievement in Acting, an onstage interview with film clips from his career, a Q&A, and a screening of the Twin Peaks pilot and is bound to sell-out.