Welcome to our coverage center for the 2011 Seattle International Film Festival. Everything we write about SIFF will display here for one-stop reading: previews, reviews, picks and pans, essays on festival survival, and almost nothing about SIFF events outside of Seattle proper. God bless SIFF for going there, but we have enough trouble getting from the Egyptian to the Harvard Exit in time, let alone West Seattle or...Everett? Thanks for stopping in, and come back soon!

June 13, 2011
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SIFF 2011 Was a Three-Star Year

Oh good holy sweet goddamn, the 37th annual Seattle International Film Festival has finally drawn to a close. After 25 days and a bajillion films, the fest winners were announced yesterday at brunch. Didn’t get enough film fest during the past month? No worries, the Best of SIFF 2011 will play at SIFF Cinema all weekend long, so you can see the individual films you missed or buy yet another series pass. With that in mind, let’s take a look the films Team SunBreak watched over Closing Weekend, as well as our thoughts on all of SIFF 2011.

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June 10, 2011
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SIFF Dispatch: Closing Weekend

This is the end, friends, as the 37th annual Seattle International Film Festival draws to a close this Sunday evening. Don’t forget to check the updates page to see which films are already sold out or are selling fast, especially since this final weekend brings a couple new films added to the schedule.

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Hanna Schwamborn as Lys. Photo by Melanie Biederer, courtesy Filmakademie Baden-Wurttemberg.

Nature Bites Back: An Interview with Krystof Zlatnik, Director of Lys

Krystof Zlatnik seems quietly awestruck by the uncharacteristically sunny Seattle day that greets him. “It’s quite beautiful outside,” he acknowleges with a smile. It’s appropriate that the director and I leave the W Hotel’s black obelisk of a lobby to chat in the warmer, naturally-lit environs of a coffee shop next door. His new movie Lys (screening for SIFF at the Neptune June 10 and 11) is, among other things, a ready acknowledgement of the beauty that’s blinding us as we hit the asphalt. It’s also a cautionary fable about how that beauty can turn against us, even when we […]

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June 8, 2011
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SIFF Dispatch: Mid-week Three

It’s the middle of the third and final week of SIFF and your loyal correspondents still haven’t burned out on movies. We tell you about Tabloid, Bobby Fischer, zany action movies, and light comedies from the past two days and point you in several directions for Wednesday and Thursday screenings, including a film with Damien Jurado or a Gay-la party at Pnk Ultra Lounge.

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Most Likely to Direct a Meta-High-School Movie: Director Joseph Kahn. Photo/collage by Tony Kay.

An Interview with Detention Director Joseph Kahn

But Detention is more than just pastiche. All of those disparate threads intersect by the movie’s end, and Kahn delivers the entire sensory-overloaded package with pinpoint accuracy. By backing up its relentless MTV-stoked pace with a distinctive sensibility (and a heart), Detention just might signal a sea change in music video-influenced moviemaking. As The SunBreak’s own Josh Bis said, “I left feeling won over by something that I probably should have hated,” and I too came out of the screening seriously, mightily impressed.

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June 7, 2011
The retro poster for The Whisperer in Darkness. Courtesy HPLHS

A Talk With the Guys Who Filmed H.P. Lovecraft’s The Whisperer in Darkness

Director/co-writer Sean Branney, co-writer/actor Andrew Leman, and cinematographer/editor Dave Robertson all hit SIFF in support of their first full-length feature, The Whisperer in Darkness.

The grandly old-school horror flick follows the ill-fated adventures of Miskatonic University professor Albert Wilmarth (Matt Foyer) as he journeys to the remote Vermont farmlands to investigate rumors of strange beings roaming the countryside.

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SIFF Dispatch: Week 3

Yes, we are now officially in the final week of SIFF. And if that’s not enough movies for you, STIFF is also in full effect, so check out their schedule too.

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June 4, 2011
Poster art for Magic Trip: Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place

Ken Kesey’s Long, Strange Trip: An Interview with director Alex Gibney

Magic Trip: Ken Kesey’s Search for a Kool Place (screening for SIFF at the Egyptian at 3:15 p.m.) chronicles the infamous, LSD-fueled cross-country bus tour undertaken by author Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters in 1964, winnowing down some 40 hours of the Pranksters’ 16mm footage to a little under two hours.

On the face of it, this latest effort sounds like a nostalgic detour from the hard-hitting work that’s made Gibney’s reputation. But he and co-director Alison Ellwood combine the footage with spoken accounts from the Pranksters and impeccably-executed re-enactment sequences to create a wholly-immersive road movie.

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June 3, 2011
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SIFF Dispatch: Week Two

SIFF stretches toward the end of its second week and we tell you about the films that we’ve seen so far as well as try to guide you to some options for this weekend. Note that Saturday night finds the festival giving a French-Spanish / upstairs-downstairs comedy the gala treatment.

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June 1, 2011
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SIFF Dispatch: Mid-Week Two

As SIFF hits its midpoint, we tell you about the films that we saw on Monday and Tuesday and provide suggestions for how to spend your filmgoing evenings tonight and tomorrow. Note that Thursday night finds the festival making its way to Kirkland and celebrating the rustic music of Winter’s Bone at the Triple Door.

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May 29, 2011
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For Your Consideration: Memorial Day Weekend at SIFF

The long holiday weekend is a good opportunity to make some quality time for SIFF-going. Let’s take a look at what SIFF films all of us at The SunBreak saw lately, as well as the films that we’re most looking forward to seeing over the next couple days.

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Tony’s Memorial Day Weekend SIFF Pig-Out

We’re just barely into the Memorial Day Weekend, and I’ve already drunk so deeply from the SIFF well that I can’t do the films justice in mini-reviews. Especially the really amazing stuff.

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May 28, 2011
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SIFF Six-pack: Cornichon’s Guide to France & Food

We asked Ronald Holden, Belltown boulevardier and Herb Caen of the Northwest food scene–read him over at the award-winning Cornichon–to let us in on what he was looking forward to at SIFF 2011. Herewith, a mélange of francophonie and food films.

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May 27, 2011
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SIFF: Week One Dispatches

Let’s take a look at what SIFF films all of us at The SunBreak saw this week as well as the films that we’re most looking forward to seeing over the next couple days. Note that this weekend is ShortsFest Weekend, SIFF’s exploration of mini-masterpieces.

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Brian Stelter on Page One, Twitter, and Storm-Chasing

As murky as the crystal ball remains, the film recalls the panicky moment when nothing seemed certain, when the Times engineered the sale-leaseback of its own building to generate capital. That and the mass layoffs, says Stelter now, feel “like the reactions of a trauma surgeon. For a while, I don’t think I knew how dire the straits were in ’08 and ’09, at times. It feels markedly better now.” It’s at this moment that The Atlantic chose to speculate on the unthinkable: the death of The New York Times, a story that still inspires some heated rejoinder.

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May 26, 2011
Balada Triste de Trompeta dirigida por Alex de la Iglesia

Six-pack of SIFF: The Cult Schlockologist’s Guide

SIFF 2011 offers an embarrassment (in more ways than one, ladies and gents) of cultish-schlocky riches. Looking for wild and woolly subversions of established exploitation genres? Or are you just seeking several industrial-strength shots of action, titillation, absurdity, violence, horror, and cheap thrills? Either way, this Dirty Half-Dozen represents what looks like the Fest’s most left-of-center and warped bag of cinema tricks.

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May 25, 2011
Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times

SIFF: Midweek Dispatches

In today’s SIFF dispatch, we argue a bit about the effectiveness of three science fiction entries, tell you what else we’ve been watching, welcome Everett to the SIFF fold, and suggest a few films to occupy your Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

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SIFF Pro-Tips, or How To Festival

As you may have noticed by now, we’re almost a week into this year’s SIFF. So time to stop acting like a n00b. SIFF like a pro, courtesy of our time- and fest-tested tips:

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May 23, 2011
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What Did You See at SIFF This Weekend?

Let’s take a look at what SIFF films all of us at The SunBreak saw opening weekend, and the ones that we’re looking forward to over the next few days.

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May 20, 2011
Submarine

SIFF: For Your Consideration (Opening Weekend)

We point you do a dozen or so excuses to avoid a sunburn this weekend by catching films during SIFF’s opening weekend, including tributes to Miranda July and Ewan McGregor.

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Damien Jurado3

Six-pack of SIFF: A Music Fan’s Guide

Abbey Simmons from Sound on the Sound picks six of SIFF’s most interesting intersections between music and film, including of course Hit So Hard, featuring the celebrated drummer from Hole, Patty Schemele.

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May 19, 2011
The poster for Justin Chadwick's The First Grader.

SIFF’s Opening Film The First Grader is Paved with Good Intentions, But…

The First Grader, the film selected for for tonight’s SIFF Opening Night Gala, is the kind of handsome, earnest, middlebrow movie seemingly tailormade for SIFF Opening Night status. If you’ve waited until the last minute, no worries, some tickets are still available!

The film tells the true story of Kimani N’gan’ga Maruge, a Kenyan tribesman and former Mau Mau freedom fighter. Maruge became–at age 84–the oldest person to take advantage of Kenya’s offer for a free education, and he made international headlines when he got that education in a grade school in his Kenyan mountain village, learning to read and write alongside six-year olds.

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Still from Red Eyes

Six-pack of SIFF: The Sports Fan’s Guide

This year’s SIFF has six movies that deal primarily or peripherally with athletic competition: Four are about soccer, two about cricket. Oh, the Europhilia! Most of these movies take familiar sports film plots and move them to different locales. The one unique entrant: Red Eyes (Ojos Rojos), about which more…right now!

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May 18, 2011
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Six-pack of SIFF: Programmer Consensus

SIFF is upon us! Our first Six-packs of SIFF gets meta by analyzing the Programmer Picks to guide you through the festival. From this, we learn that the only thing SIFF’s programming team loves more than documentaries is an indie coming of age story that features new melancholy songs from Alex Turner.

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May 5, 2011

SIFF 2011: Open for Business

SIFF opens for business today with the arrival of the main box office at Pacific Place and the arrival of the festival schedule online, in print, and in pocket format. Individual tickets for most films cost $11 for the public and $9 for SIFF members; although the matinees are a bit cheaper ($8/$7), and “stimulus matinees” (first two shows of the day before 2:30 p.m. on Fridays) are cheaper still ($6). For the more committed, there are all sorts of passes still for sale as well as slightly discounted packs of tickets in bundles of 6 or 20.

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April 28, 2011
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SIFF Offers a Peek at 2011 Film Festival

SIFF opened the curtain on its 2011 festival this morning to the press. We drank a few mimosas, pondered the previews, and are already excited about locking ourselves away in movie theaters for much of the spring.

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