I can't remember a time I went to the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) press launch and looked over the list of films and saw so many I was interested in seeing. The claim to fame for over the years is to call it the largest and most-highly attended festival in the United States. This is a fact I've often taken issue with as I don't equate quantity with quality.
Granted, there has been a large number of quality features to play the fest over the years, including Golden Space Needle (Best Film) winners such as Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985), My Life as a Dog (1987), Trainspotting (1996), Run Lola Run (1999), Whale Rider (2003) and even recent Best Director winner, Michel Hazanavicius's OSS 117: Nest of Spies in 2006. That said, looking over this year's crop of films I see a lot of films I will be doing my absolute best to see.
First, out of 5,676 films submitted, there will be 273 feature films playing the fest from 75 different countries. Of these, 180 do not yet have distribution and 85 of them are directed by female filmmakers, up from 62 last year, a point the fest was sure to make in their press release.
Opening the festival will be Lynn Shelton's Your Sister's Sister starring Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mark Duplass and Mike Birbiglia. The closing night feature is the Seattle-shot Grassroots from director Stephen Gyllenhaal and starring Jason Biggs, Joel David Moore, Lauren Ambrose, Tom Arnold and The Avengers co-star Cobie Smulders.
Other notable films that will have Gala Presentations include Lola Versus from director Daryl Wein starring Greta Gerwig, Joel Kinnaman, Hamish Linklater and Debra Winger; The Details from director Jacob Aaron Estes and was also shot in the Seattle area; Matthew Lillard's Seattle-shot directorial debut Fat Kid Rules the World; Alex de la Iglesia's As Luck Would Have It starring Salma Hayek; Ken Scott's Starbuck; Jonathan Lisecki's Gayby; and Robot and Frank from director Jake Schreier and starring Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, Liv Tyler and Peter Sarsgaard.
Among the special presentations, Disney and Pixar will bring in Brave, Dreamworks will feature the directorial debut of Transformers and Star Trek co-writer Alex Kurtzman's People Like Us which stars Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks, and Michael Winterbottom's much talked about Trishna starring Freida Pinto.
And that is just the special stuff, there's more.
Among the films I've already seen, the fantastic Spanish-language animated feature Wrinkles will play the fest. A film I saw at Cannes last year and loved (read my review here), Polisse, is playing as is the sci-fi, comedic curiosity Extraterrestrial which I saw in Toronto last year (read my review here).
I already mentioned how Sissy Spacek and William Freidkin will be honored at this year's fest and, as expected, along with Freidkin's new film Killer Joe (read my review here), The Exorcist and The French Connection will play and for Spacek there will be screenings of Carrie and Coal Miner's Daughter. It's also interesting to see Terrence Malick's Badlands is playing.
As for some of the other titles I'm looking forward to there's Julie Delpy's 2 Days in New York, Bel Ami starring Robert Pattinson, the Duplass brothers' The Do-Deca-Pentathlon, the very cool looking documentary The Imposter, Josh Radnor's Liberal Arts starring Elizabeth Olsen, Colin Trevorrow's Sundance hit Safety Not Guaranteed, Sarah Polley's Take This Waltz, the horror mash-up V/H/S and Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights.
Add to that Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom and Benh Zeitlin's stand-out Sundance feature Beasts of the Southern Wild, both of which I will be seeing at Cannes, and you really have one hell of a line-up and that's not the end of it.
Unfortunately, like the last couple of years I will have to do my best to catch what I can, when I can as about half of the fest coincides with my time in France, but I can honestly say this year they have grabbed my attention.
On page two I have included the complete feature film line-up as announced just today.