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SIFF 2018: Wrap-up Roundtable, Golden SunBreaks, & Best of SIFF

Josh: SIFF’s twenty-five day film marathon concluded last weekend and we all crossed the finish line along with it. Let’s start by taking the overall temperature of the festival — How was your SIFF this year?

Tony: As usual, SIFF was an adventure for me. My movie tally was the lowest it’s been since I started covering SIFF eight years ago. That said, the batting average for me was surprisingly strong. I just somehow managed to pick (for the most part) very good-to-great things.

Josh: I would’ve liked to find time to see more, but I still caught a fair number of movies and liked a good share of them. I’m not sure that any will end up on my top ten list at the end of the year, but that’s a tough bar to clear. Aside from that, I made it out of the festival with a clear memory of what “the outdoors” looks like and I didn’t die from popcorn or Coke Zero overdoses. In my mind, that counts as a fairly successful SIFF!

Chris: Maybe my antidepressants were upped a little, but I was, overall, pretty bullish on SIFF this year. I had seen more movies, I think, than I have at any other SIFF, and there were about a dozen others that I wish I could’ve fit into my schedule. I also feel like I’m defending movies that the rest of the group wasn’t fond of. I swear it’s not be be contrarian on purpose! “Well, actually, I really enjoyed First Reformed/Wild Nights With Emily/The Bookshop.” Though I did!

Josh: I guess it takes a village: Wild Nights With Emily was the only SIFF movie that I walked out of all festival! It was decidedly Not For Me, maybe because A Quiet Passion, last year’s magnificent Emily Dickinson biopic (starring the future governor of New York), was still too fresh in my mind. Fifteen minutes in, a friend and I decided to pull the plug on Emily, headed downtown for screening of Oceans 8, and never looked back!

Morgen: I finally felt like I caught a decent number of films at SIFF, but this is a personal situation. Maybe it’s because the venues were accessible by light rail that made it easier? Perhaps it’s the timing of the films? I’ve mostly been a red carpet photographer in the past and didn’t get to take full advantage of the press pass as a film watcher. This time I was determined despite other time-consuming responsibilities and I don’t regret it.

Josh: Thoughts on closing night? I missed the party, but liked Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot, this year’s closing night selection. These festival bookending events serve many masters (a huge percentage of the tickets seem to be set aside for sponsors), so there’s perhaps a limit to the level of risk that can be taking with programming, so overall this felt like a decent selection that also had some appeal based on Northwest connections, the Amazon Studios funding, and the availability of talent to make it out to closing night. Speaking of talent, Morgen got some great photos from the red carpet:

Director Gus Van Sant visits SIFF’s red carpet for the Closing Night Gala presentation of Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot. (Photos: Morgen Schuler)

Gus Van Sant’s adaptation of Callahan’s autobiography dodges a what could’ve been a formulaic journey from alcoholism to sobriety by fracturing the narrative and intercutting between drunken hijinks, a quadriplegia-inducing car accident, the depths of despair, working through the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous into a celebrated career as a cartoonist. Another minor benefit of this structure is that it might help audiences to accept that Phoenix, who’s otherwise predictably good, is a bit of a stretch to portray a person whose story spans from early twenties to late fifties. Along the way, examples of Callahan’s  work fill the screen as a way of instantly communicating his dark humor while providing some much needed laughter.

SIFF’s closing night gala features Gus Van Sant’s latest: Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far on Foot

My major quibble with Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot was that it wasn’t apparent to me until very late in the film that Rooney Mara’s character, a flight attendant and volunteer physical therapist (really!), was an actual person and not a hallucination conjured in the depths of despair. At least the other supporting characters — including musicians Carrie Brownstein as a case worker and Kim Gordon and Beth Ditto as salty members of a support group — have little moments to shine while Mara is caught in a textbook manic pixie dream girl role.

Chris: I see what you’re saying, Josh, about Don’t Worry and I agree, though I don’t know if that uncertainty about Rooney Mara’s character was a deliberate choice by Gus Van Sant or some problems with the script. You’re 100% right that she had the least to work with. I really enjoy watching her as an actor, but I just don’t think her character was written all that well here. One other brief note I’ll say that there’s a scene where John Callahan runs into some kids out skateboarding on the street that really got to me. It had a real sweetness to it that you don’t really see in the rest of the movie.

Josh: I don’t blame her at all; it just seemed like that relationship wasn’t of much interest to Van Sant. In contrast, Joaquin Phoenix’s scenes with Jonah Hill (who disappears under long hair and a beard in his role as the chill, rich, gay, AA guru) progresses from initial infatuation at his first AA meeting, to the courtship of sponsorship, through those twelve steps, had plenty of chemistry and felt like the movie’s truest romance. 

Chris: I do think, though (and, including the usual caveats, I know a lot of it was based on what was available and what big stars you can bring to Seattle, and that programming events at a festival is very hard), that they might not have wanted to have their “tribute” film and the closing night film both biopics about white men whose self-destructive tendencies hampered their creative output and hurt their loved ones. I did find a lot to like in both of them. Then again, I do need to base fewer opinions on reading something and thinking “This will not go over well on Twitter.”

Josh: That’s a good point. A feel-good-enough story about an alcoholic cartoonist was a weird bow to put on a festival that was so strong in terms of diversity of films and filmmakers.

Chris: We talked about this after we both saw it, about how many people paid for open bar privileges at the closing night party and then had second thoughts about their alcohol consumption after seeing a movie where its central character loses so much from his excessive drinking.

Josh: Suddenly the regular price admission and the two drink tickets of moderation feel like a wise decision!

Tony: I was sad to have missed Don’t Worry, caveats and all. But the party was fun as always, with a better-curated selection of music than Opening Night, to boot.

 

Retablo, courtesy SIFF

What did SIFF do well this year?

Tony: Things felt professionally organized as always, and (suck-up alert) the SIFF press team were top-flight for the most part. From my cramped, fest-movie-deficient vantage point, the selection of films looked amazing.

Josh: Given the size and scope of the festival, I’m regularly astounded that SIFF happens at all, let alone so apparently seamlessly. Aside from this year’s free guide having some errors in the schedules, everything else appeared to run flawlessly. Even that printing error seemed to be fixed rapidly, with a handy single-page insert added to the huge stacks of free guides available throughout the city. I pity the poor volunteers who had to cross out the old schedule, but selfishly loved having all the movie listings on a single sheet of paper!

Chris: I thought SIFF did a lot of really good things this year, and I do think the programmers succeeded in bringing together a diverse festival lineup, and people seemed to have really taken to what they were doing: most of the screenings I went to were at least 80% full, including a Sunday morning screening of an experimental film from an Iranian filmmaker about an Egyptian artist.  SIFF also, I believe, should get a lot of credit for bringing countless first films from directors all over the world and often bringing those directors with them.

Josh: Absolutely! And when you look through the demographics of the filmmakers and countries of origin, you get the real sense of SIFF’s impressive commitment to diversity.

Chris: This might sound like it’s a little “inside baseball,” but this was the first year that I remember where SIFF made all of the major films (the party and gala movies, the movies that had a lot of buzz from SXSW and Sundance) screened for press before their festival screenings. I couldn’t make it to every movie I wanted to see, but I’m glad I didn’t have to fight for space with movies that were long on standby.

Morgen: What I’m most excited about, is seeing both good and bad films. Well, really good and fair (not worth my time) films. Why am I excited about this? Because I tend to err on the side of positivity when it comes to movies: I’m easily engrossed. I wanted the opportunity to really review films, to talk about the good and the bad… not just the fabulous. I think this actually makes for a better film festival as a whole. While the films available to view at SIFF were arguably better than their competition in order to get into the fest, not all of them will be to my taste and not all of them will actually be quality films. It gives you a feeling like you have the opportunity to see a full gamut, not just the really exciting, really loving, really well-done films; it also includes those that are rough around the edges. It allows me to experience directors and actors on their way up even if this isn’t their finest work.

Tony: I did want to give shout-outs to two really good movies I saw to round out my SIFF. Retablo was an excellent drama about a father teaching his son the art of sculpting clay figures and setting them amidst a tableau of wooden diorama boxes (I’m making this art form sound a lot clunkier and less beautiful than it is).  It’s leisurely paced, but beautifully shot on location, evocative of an honest-to-God other world, extremely moving, and in crushingly tragic in the end (your mileage may vary on the last trait).

Morgen: Warning, a bit of a spoiler ahead: So something else I wanted to chat a little about, but not sure where it fits in. I went to see Half Widow on the last day of the fest; that’s right, at 11 am on a Sunday. The screening wasn’t completely full but there were a decent number of attendees. This film is a heartbreaker about a Kashmiri woman whose husband was simply stolen in the middle of the day and never came back. I’m glad I went because I ended up missing a lot of films from minority directors and actors, which really bummed me out, so making this one in particular was important. Anyway, after the film the director was there to answer questions. A woman from Kashmir was in the audience and spoke up about how the film didn’t accurately depict the reality of life for women in her country (the arranged marriage was a beautiful one with no violence or dominance, the husband was gracious and cared about her and her family… I have to assume that’s the part she felt was untrue). The director was a Kashmiri man, and amidst the recent public revelation of men’s actions in America lately, this really hit home. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised at what she was saying. The director answered in a very politically correct way ie “This is how I see things” and she wasn’t going to let that go without a bit of a battle (good for her). However, the interaction upset her so much she had to leave soon thereafter. I’m sorry more people weren’t at this viewing to see the discussion, because while I was incredibly uncomfortable and upset on her behalf, it’s discussion like this that’s so very important. While a film can be beautiful, charming and also heart-wrenching, it is created in the eye of the director, which may not always depict reality for everyone.

What could SIFF do better next time around?

Tony: Honestly, it’s hard for me to complain about much of anything, except for not having had enough time to savor more of it.

Josh: It’s hard to complain about having too much of a good thing, but maybe SIFF is too damned long? I know that a lot of your beloved passholders see upwards of a hundred movies from the first press screenings until closing night, but  that is simply not sustainable for me or most attendees of SIFF (I think that I saw somewhere that the average SIFF attendee sees one film).

In contrast to the SIFF marathon film buffet, last year, I went to a couple of weekend-long film festivals — Telluride and Orcas Island — and it was fantastic to be able to set aside an entire weekend to watch great movies in incredibly scenic places. I guess that nothing’s stopping me (or anyone) from doing that with SIFF, but the compressed schedule and tightly curated programming meant that most attendees are able to see most of the films in the festival without doing a huge amount of strategic planning, making it feel more like a collective event. That kind of feeling just isn’t possible over twenty-five days and four hundred films.

I don’t know if there’s a solution other than shortening the event to be more in line with other film festivals. Maybe breaking the marathon into mini-festivals (e.g., showing all of the competition films in the same week, at about the same time, in the same venue) would help to establish a stronger sense of identity.

Tony: From my own selfish perspective, my work/life schedule made the fest’s length a benefit. If it hadn’t have been 3 weeks long, I wouldn’t have caught the movies I did.

Morgen: Chris and I kind of hit on this in the midfest discussion, but I think if it were possible thing to have a more specific set of press screenings and perhaps allow the full-pass holders go to a set of their own screenings… but a) i don’t know if that’s possible and b) would it be fun if only about 5 people showed up for a showing for press? Probably not. Also, this is no fault of SIFF, but I miss the diversity of venues we were able to hit up in the past (Harvard Exit for example). I guess it doesn’t matter much, but I get a richness from seeing films in old theaters and most of what I’ve gone to was at Pacific Place. There was a movie playing beside a quieter film that included constant explosions and action sounds that kind of killed the mood. That wouldn’t happen in a smaller movie house. That could be on me, I should put an effort to go to regular screenings instead of the press showings.

Chris: Oh Morgen, I don’t want separate screenings for passholders and press, I want the passholders 86’ed from the press screenings for good (we can allow one exception, you know who you are). Maybe lower the price of a Platinum Pass by $100 and call it good.

Josh: What was that you said about “not going well on Twitter” again, Chris? Watch your back in those passholder lines!

Morgen: Dang Chris, I’d heed Josh’s words. They’re nice for the most part, but I bet if you get on their bad side…  I mean, I’m annoyed by the passholders being there, but I don’t want ‘em thrown out all together. Maybe they could even stay and just give the “guy in charge” a talkin’ to that announces things like Hawaiian shirt Thursday (I do NOT care, and why is this a thing?) or talks to us like we’re part of some weird fan club before every film.

Josh: I think it’s too late, Morgen. You’re already in the club, you just don’t know it!

 

What films did you wish you’d skipped? Or any noble failures?

Tony: I’ve covered it already, but Field Guide to Evil was just a major missed opportunity and a big disappointment. Other than that, mostly aces on this end.

Chris: I don’t want to keep harping on Nona, but I had erred in seeing it, because the day it screened for press, the lineup was Nona -> Love, Gilda -> Sorry to Bother You. I was going to try to hit all three, but by the time I got to the end of Love, Gilda, my ass was telling me it had enough sitting for one day, so I didn’t stick around for my Twitter follower Boots Riley’s debut. Had I had more foresight, I would’ve skipped the first movie and saw the final two.

Josh: I wish that I’d given up early (or taken a pass altogether) on Hagazussa – A Heathen’s Curse. I read elsewhere that the alpine horror, about a shunned woman going mad in medieval Europe, was the director’s film school graduation project and boy did it feel that way. A lot of beautiful shots that just linger and linger and linger. What little plot there is hangs almost entirely on a moody droning soundtrack, until eventually he has to pull the trigger and bring the dark folktale to an absurdly gruesome ending.

Morgen: First Reformed is still high on my list, but it was complicated… so I will probably never work out my feelings about this one. A new one since the midfest review is Girls Always Happy. I liked the concept, but it was difficult to get absorbed in this one (and I’m a super easy sell, i cry at the drop of a hat). It definitely went on about 30 minutes too long (at a 117 minute run time, you’d better be engrossing) but it definitely got real for me, the subject matter and the way it was executed was good, it just lacked something… or maybe it was just too real.

Chris: I’m pretty sure it was Josh who said to me many SIFFs ago something like the ideal length for a festival movie is 90 minutes and the filmmakers should have to justify every minute they go over that (cc Zack Snyder).

Josh: This might actually be received wisdom from the SunBreak’s founding film editor Audrey, but I carry that banner proudly! Especially on days that I tried to catch more than one movie, keeping the running time tight makes all the difference in the world, in terms of attention span, commuting time, and the ability to grab something other than popcorn for nutrition in between screenings!

Morgen: In the instance of Girls Always Happy, I’d say even 90 minutes needed to be justified. It was definitely 30 minutes too long. I really enjoyed the concept, but the characters were super annoying (though at times that was the point) and there was just not enough actual content to account for the 90 minute run time. It seriously should have been a short at around 45-60 minutes (and I wasn’t the only one that felt this way, I heard others bagging it too).

Thunder Road, courtesy SIFF

 Reactions to the many SIFF awards? 

Many of the films showing at SIFF are part of juried competitions. Among the many winners and special mentions, some of the key winners this for 2018 were:

Official Competition: The Reports on Sarah and Saleem

New Directors Competition: Dead Pigs

New American Cinema Competition: Thunder Road

Documentary Competition: Inventing Tomorrow

Ibero-American Competition: Rust

SIFF also prizes the opinions of its audiences, and volunteers tirelessly count those 1-5 star ballots and write-in nominations collected from moviegoers at the end of each screening to determine the winners The Golden Space Needle Awards. This year’s audiences chose the following as their favorites of the festival:

Narrative: Eighth Grade

Documentary: Won’t You Be My Neighbor

Director: Gustav Möller, The Guilty

Actor: Miguel Ángel Solá, The Last Suit

Actress: Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade  

Josh: My quest to watch all of the Official Competition films failed spectacularly due to some personal scheduling challenges. Of the jury prize winners, I saw only New American Cinema winner Thunder Road and wholeheartedly endorse its victory. It’s a cliche to say “you’ll laugh, you’ll cry”, but it’s rare for those to happen at the same time. Jim Cummings’s viruouso performance in a film that he also wrote and directed fits that bill: a trainwreck of a eulogy (complete with a soundtrack-free interpretive dance, probably a clever workaround for not having the rights to the Springsteen title track) is just the beginning of an emotional rollercoaster for a North Carolina police officer as he deals with the death of his mother, custody of his daughter, a toxic relationship with his ex-wife, and the effect on the force.

Eighth Grade, Belle of the SIFF Ball

Passholders, they’re just like us?

Josh: Along with announcing the winners of the audience awards, SIFF also lists the runners-up. Separately, Fool Serious (the officially unofficial organization of full series passholders) also release a list of their most-liked films in both the narrative and documentary categories. It’s often illuminating to see how they do or don’t line-up: 

FeatureFeatureDocumentaryDocumentary
AudienceFoolsAudienceFools
‣Eighth Grade
The Last Suit
Champions
C’est la vie!
Supa Modo
The Guilty
See You Up There
Blindspotting
Tigers Are Not Afraid
The Last Suit
Supa Modo
A Prayer Before Dawn
Eighth Grade
Ellen
Something Useful
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Pick of the Litter
Return to Mount Kennedy
The Most Dangerous Year
The Russian Five
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
In Praise of Nothing
Ballet Now
Return to Mount Kennedy
Three Identical Strangers

Interestingly the casual fans and fanatics agreed that Eighth Grade, Supa Modo, and The Last Suit were at the top of the list for narrative features; both also loved Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and Return To Mount Kennedy. (Chris spoke with director Bobby Whittaker about his film here). 

Tony: I can’t speak to any of the award-winning films directly, but I’m unsurprised by Won’t You Be My Neighbor’s rapturous reception. Not just because its subject was such an exemplary, wise, and beautiful person but also because it was directed by Morgan Neville.

Josh: In terms of the audience awards, I am pleasantly surprised by Eighth Grade winding up on top of the favorite films and best actress races. I both thought that it was really good while also being the hardest film for me to watch at the festival. Director Bo Burnham captures an early-teen sense of isolation and loneliness with such earnest specificity that I was squirming with recognition throughout as breakout lead actress Elsie Fisher makes her way through a last regret- and nostalgia-filled week of middle school, making motivational YouTube videos for an audience of none (or rather, herself), constantly scrolling through Instagram, and navigating the minefield of a charity invitation to a popular kid’s pool party. But none of the cringes are played for laughs, which partially explains how I feel such residual fondness for something that made me want to chew off my own face for most of the running time! Walking out of the screening, I wondered how this would be received by people who were “popular” in middle school, but I guess they liked it, they really liked it.

Return to Mount Kennedy, courtesy SIFF

Tony: I also caught another terrific locally-sourced documentary, Return to Mount Kennedy, unsurprisingly at the top of both the pass holder and general audience lists. The movie’s dramatic fulcrum is a 50th-anniversary climb up the titular mountain, which was named for the recently-departed John F. Kennedy. The first ascent all those decades ago was undertaken by Northwest climbing icon/future REI founder Jim Whitaker and Robert F. Kennedy; Whitaker’s sons Bob and Leif take the ascent alongside Kennedy’s son Christopher. The movie’s center turns out to be Bob Whitaker, a boisterous, larger-than-life character whose halcyon days of youth as a Seattle scenester during this town’s 1990’s music-mecca peak are chronicled via video footage (he ultimately became a successful tour manager for the likes of Mudhoney, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and R.E.M.).  Like any great story, there are plenty of layers that unpeel during the movie’s running time: The personal journey and dawning self-awareness of Bob Whitaker; the awkward but ultimately loving relationship between him and his father; the elder Whitaker’s close friendship with Robert F. Kennedy, powerfully capped by archival footage of Whitaker’s close-to-tears eulogy to his fallen friend; and a fun window into the seat-of-the-pants spirit that fueled the Grunge Era’s glory days. The journey, not the destination, is the point behind Return to Mount Kennedy, and it’s a trek well worth taking.

Morgen: Sadly, I saw exactly zero of the winning films, or even runners up; In *any* category. I’m incredibly disappointed by this, but maybe it’s sort of the luck of the draw (and scheduling like Josh mentioned).

Disobedience, courtesy SIFF

Let’s end on a high note: what films get your Golden SunBreaks?

Tony: Three jump to the front for me. Sadie, Megan Griffiths’ excellent indie drama about a caustically-witty but darkly troubled kid living amidst a trailer-park culture; Waru, the kinetic, powerful, cinematically breathtaking New Zealand anthology with 9 segments each shot in one continuous take; and Afghan Cycles, Sarah Menzies’ richly-told and dramatically satisfying documentary on the Afghanistan Women’s Cycling Team.

Chris: Before SIFF officially began with The Bookshop, they had started screening movies for press and the first movie I was taken with was Disobedience (aka “Jew is the Warmest Color”) and thought it hit all of the things I enjoy in films. I loved the storytelling, the acting, the pacing. I figured if it wasn’t my favorite movie by the end of the festival, something really special would have to come along. It was almost usurped by My Name is Myeisha, which is a truly special film. It felt like a master class in experimental filmmaking: part hip hop musical, part performance art, part social commentary about a 1998 police shooting. Star Rhaechyl Walker and director Gus Krieger are two unique talents that I can’t wait to see what they do next, even if their movie is still on the festival circuit.

Josh: It’s always nice to start with something great and with the hopes that something can live up to it. I guess I had almost the opposite situation. I wasn’t wild about my first two press screenings, so, for me the opening days of the festival felt like a quest to find something fantastic. American Animals was the first one that really hit for me, and other gems were scattered throughout, including the searingly hilarious Sorry to Bother You burning down the Centerpiece slot, Debra Granik’s quiet stunner Leave No Trace, and going out on a high note by seeing this hilarious and emotionally affecting Thunder Road on a whim as my final screening of the festival..

Chris: The comedies that I most enjoyed were from Sweden (The Cake General), Australia (Hot Mess), and the Philippines (Chedeng and Apple). Looking over my list of movies I saw, the only comedy from the good ‘ole USA that I had any fondness for was Wild Nights With Emily (aka “Harold Bloom, They’re Lesbians”). I’ve been a fan of Madeleine Olnek’s comedies since I interviewed her in 2011 when she brought her first feature, Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same to SIFF. WNWE wasn’t a perfect movie by any means, but I was laughing throughout, and I can’t ever really hate a movie where the villain is an editor at The Atlantic.

Morgen: I smashed in a bunch of films the last week of the fest and I am having a really tough time choosing between my top five films which of them is the best. I’m usually drawn to comedies so Little Tito and the Aliens really hit me (comedy with a lot of heart and cuteness), but Anchor and Hope was an incredible story of real love, the complexity of life and whether what we want is more important than the people in our lives. Hearts Beat Loud was the first film I saw and it had so many incredible actors… I think that might be why I loved it so much (Nick Offerman slayed his role, I was gushing); I also think it was less of SIFF film and more on the verge of a mainstream release. C’est La Vie was fabulous and funny and simply a story, nothing more nothing less. For entertainment value it was a complete hit and like I mentioned in the midfest review, it couldn’t have been done by anyone other than the French… superb. The last film of the fest for me was Never Goin Back and I’m so excited that’s how I ended it (rather than the incredibly heavy and interesting audience invoked discussion caused by Half Widow from earlier in the day, but I already talked about that above).

Full disclosure: we’ve shared the our biggest hits and misses. Let’s share our SIFF scorecards — what we all saw, in approximate order of preference. And like the Golden Space Needle ballots, no half-star ratings!

JoshTonyChrisMorgen
☆☆☆☆☆
‣American Animals
‣Leave No Trace
‣Sorry to Bother You
☆☆☆☆☆
‣Waru
‣Sadie
‣Afghan Cycles
☆☆☆☆☆
‣Disobedience
‣My Name is Myeisha
‣Won’t You Be My Neighbor
‣First Reformed
‣Afghan Cycles
‣Sadie
☆☆☆☆☆
‣Hearts Beat Loud
‣C’est La Vie
‣Little Tito and the Aliens
‣Never Goin Back
‣Anchor And Hope


☆☆☆☆
‣Disobedience
‣Thunder Road
‣Eighth Grade
‣Team Hurricane
‣The Miseducation of Cameron Post
‣Skate Kitchen
‣Let the Sunshine In
☆☆☆☆
‣Prospect
‣Automata
‣The Most Dangerous Year
‣Retablo
‣Return to Mount Kennedy
☆☆☆☆
‣Three Identical Strangers
‣Ballet Now
‣Russian Five
‣Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
‣Looking for Oum Kulthum
‣Let the Sunshine In
‣People’s Republic of Desire
‣Noble Earth
‣The Bookshop
‣Shakedown
‣Cake General
‣Hot Mess
‣American Animals
‣Return to Mt. Kennedy
☆☆☆☆
‣Half Widow
‣Puzzle
‣Number One
☆☆☆
‣The Heiresses
‣Won’t You Be My Neighbor
‣Three Identical Strangers
‣The Children Act
‣RevengePig
‣Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot
‣First Reformed
‣The Charmer
‣Constructing Albert
☆☆☆
‣Devil’s Doorway
‣Terrore Internationale
‣The Bookshop
☆☆☆
‣Love, Gilda
‣Leave No Trace
‣Automata
‣Wild Nights With Emily
‣The Miseducation of Cameron Post
‣Killing Jesus
‣Chedeng and Apple
‣BlazeBeast
‣Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary
‣Breathe
‣A Good Week for Democracy
‣Most Dangerous Year
☆☆☆
‣Dark River
‣That Summer
☆☆
‣Blindspotting
‣Racer and the Jailbird
‣Beast
☆☆
‣The Field Guide to Evil
☆☆
Brewmaster
☆☆
‣Girls Always Happy
‣First Reformed

‣Boundaries
‣Hagazussa
‣Wild Nights With Emily

‣Boundaries
‣Nona
* Secret Films 1-3 (unrated)

Josh: Not too shabby! It took four of us to watch 77 films over 89 screenings — which is probably collectively how many movies one of the more dedicated passholders would see over the course of the festival.

Just when you thought you’d see the sun again … here comes the Best of SIFF

Josh: Remember when I mused that SIFF might be too long? Yeah, to that SIFF responded with a full week of additional Best of SIFF programming highlighting some of the jury award winners and a handful of audience favorites (including quite a few that we praised in our recaps, reviews, and roundtables).  The mini-festival starts today, full schedule below:

June 15:

June 16:

June 17:

June 18:

  • Waru (4:30 pm) — “Audience Favorite”

June 19:

June 20:

  • Supa Modo (6:30 pm) — “Audience Favorite”
  • Afghan Cycles (8:30 pm) — “Documentary Competition, Special Mention”

June 21:

Note: Other festival films are already in regular rotation at SIFF’s various screens Mountain (Egyptian), Summer 1993 (Film Center), Hearts Beat Loud (Uptown), and Won’t You Be My Neighbor (Uptown); and American Animals and First Reformed are now playing in multiplexes around town.


Well, it’s been real, but let’s call this SIFF almost-a-wrap. We’ll continue to catch up with reviews and interviews from the festival in the coming days as we process everything we saw at the festival. Keep an eye on all of our SIFF coverage on our SIFF 2018 page including interviews, pro-tips, roundtables, and reviews from the country’s biggest, longest, most-attended little film festival. It’s been great seeing the movies with all of you!