It’s hard to call the upcoming 2011 Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) anything other than an assault on fans of film. The marathon event runs from May 19 through June 12. That’s 25 days of films. And each day of films features 15 to 25 films. It’s impossible to see everything but a select crowd of “Fool Serious” participants (a play on Full Series pass holders) make a valiant attempt every year and compare stories of SIFFs past like war veterans looking at old battle scars. The festival is listed as the largest in North America with an attendance of 150,000. Seattle is pretty lucky in that SIFF runs its own theater year-round and has numerous events throughout the year in conjunction with a variety of organizations.

For 2011 SIFF has 441 films (257 features and 184 shorts). There will be Galas, Tributes, Premiers and Awards and in a few sentences I’ll list them all but since this is pure information culled from press releases, I thought I would write for a minute about how panic-inducing covering SIFF can be. I look at the schedule and see the dozens of opportunities to review movies and interview filmmakers and am very glad that Film Threat has three people covering the festival. Of course, even then we won’t be able to see nearly enough films.

And then I saw the asterisk. Next to many films was a dreaded asterisk indicating the film has distribution and that we can’t review the film (or if we do, the review must be held until the the release date for the film. Most of these films have been previously reviewed on Film Threat from other festivals, like Miranda July’s “The Future.” With films on hold, the reviewer is allowed to do a 75 work capsule review. I’ll include one to show why you won’t see many of these.

“The Future:” I liked it but can see where it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. A couple is jarred out of their lives ruts by the prospect of taking care of a cat. They spend the month until the cat arrives finding out who they are individually and their relationship as a couple suffers. Although the attempt is mismanaged, it kind of actually works. The cat’s story is a poignant counterpoint to the couple’s floundering.

Luckily some of the films open to the general public during SIFF so the reviews won’t have to sit long.

So here’s the list of Galas, Tributes, Premiers and Contests. If you can be in Seattle during the Festival you would do well to see some of the films. Daily schedules can be seen at www.siff.net .

2011 SIFF Galas

The Festival begins Thursday, May 19 with the annual Opening Night Gala and a screening of “The First Grader” (UK/Kenya, National Geographic Entertainment), directed by Justin Chadwick.

The Centerpiece Gala will be Saturday, June 4 and feature a screening of “Service Entrance” (France, Strand Releasing), directed by Philippe Le Gauy.

The Festival will conclude on Sunday, June 12 with the Closing Night Gala a screening of the documentary “Life in a Day” (UK, National Geographic Entertainment), directed by Kevin Macdonald.

2011 SIFF Tributes
SIFF 2011 will also feature plenty of star power, with tributes to honor Ewan McGregor and Warren Miller and a special, one night only event with Al Pacino scheduled.

2011 SIFF Feature Film Premieres

World Premieres:
“A Lot Like You” (USA),
“August” (USA),
“Do You See Colors When You Close Your Eyes?” (USA),
“Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians” (USA),
“Lys” (Germany),
“Sushi: The Global Catch” (USA),
“The Darkest Matter” (USA)

North America Premieres:
“Above Us Only Sky” (Germany),
“Absent” (Argentina),
“Almanya” (Germany),
“Angel of Evil” (Italy),
“Backyard” (Iceland),
“Bicycle, Spoon, Apple” (Spain),
“Blinding” (Canada),
“Bruce Lee, My Brother” (Hong Kong),
“Every Song is About Me” (Spain),
“Flying Fish” (Sri Lanka),
“Heading West” (Netherlands),
“Johan Primero” (Netherlands),
“Killing Bono” (UK),
“King of Devil’s Island” (Norway),
“The Mountain” (Norway),
“Nobody” (Greece),
“Our Home” (Brazil),
“Qarantina” (Iraq),
“Red Eagle” (Thailand),
“Revenge: A Love Story” (Hong Kong),
“Rosario” (Philippines),
“Sevdah for Karim” (Bosnia-Herzegovina),
“Spud” (South Africa),
“Third Star” (UK),
“A Thousand Fools” (Spain),
“Yellow Sea” (South Korea)

U.S. Premieres:
“The Cashier Who Liked Gambling” (Italy),
“Ex” (Hong Kong),
“Fathers & Sons” (Canada),
“Finisterrae” (Spain),
“Funkytown” (Canada, Quebec),
“The Intruder” (Thailand),
“Late Autumn” (South Korea),
“Norwegian Wood” (Japan),
“Oliver Sherman” (Canada),
“Por El Camino” (Brazil),
“Princess” (Finland),
“Rene Goes To Hollywood” (Georgia),
“Red Eyes” (Chile),
“Silent Sonata” (Slovenia),
“Snow White” (France),
“A Thousand Times Stronger” (Sweden),
“Trigger” (Canada),
“The Whisperer in Darkness” (USA),
“We Are the Night” (Germany)

In addition to the above listed feature premieres, this year’s Festival will also include 44 short film premieres.

Competitions & Awards

New Directors Competition
Festival programmers select 10 films remarkable for their original concept, striking style, and overall excellence. To be eligible for consideration, the films must be the director’s first or second feature and must be without US distribution at the time of their selection, with the Grand Jury Prize Award Winner receiving a cash prize of $2,500. This year’s contenders are:

“Every Song is About Me,” directed by Jonas Trueba (Spain, 2010)
“Belle Epine,” directed by Rebecca Zlotowski (France, 2010)
“Gandu,” directed by Q (Kaushik Mukherjee) (India, 2010)
“The Most Important Thing in Life Is Not Being Dead,” directed by Olivier Pictel (Switzerland, 2010)
“Por El Camino,” directed by Charly Braun (Brazil, 2010)
“Flying Fish,” directed by Sanjeewa Pushpakumara (Sri Lanka, 2011)
“Cairo 678,” directed by Mohamed Diab (Egypt, 2010)
“Artificial Paradises,” directed by Yulene Olaizola (Mexico, 2011)
“Almanya,” directed by Yasemin Samdereli (Germany, 2011)
“Absent,” directed by Marco Berger (Argentina, 2011)

Documentary Competition
SIFF programmers have selected 10 films from this year’s documentaries lineup that are unscripted and uncut, the world is a resource of unexpected, informative, and altogether exciting storytelling. The Grand Prize Jury Award winner will be announced at the Golden Space Needle Awards brunch and will receive a cash prize of $2,500. This year’s entrees are:

“Bicycle, Spoon, Apple,” directed by Carles Bosch (Spain, 2010)
“Red Eyes,” directed by Juan Pablo Sallato (Chile, 2011)
“Rothstein’s First Assignment,” directed by Richard Knox Robinson (USA, 2010)
“An African Election,” directed by Jarreth Merz (Ghana, 2010)
“PressPausePlay,” directed by David Dworsky (Sweden, 2011)
“To Be Heard,” directed by Amy Sultan (USA, 2010)
“Marathon Boy,” directed by Gemma Atwal (India, 2010)
“The Green Wave,” directed by Ali Samadi Ahadi (Germany, 2010)
“Sushi: The Global Catch,” directed by Mark Hall (USA, 2011)
“Hot Coffee,” directed by Susan Saladoff (USA, 2011)

Shorts Competition
All short films screened during the Festival will be entered to compete for top honors in the SIFF Shorts Competiton, with jury members selecting Winners in three categories—Live Action, Animation, and Documentary—on SIFF ShortsFest Weekend. Winners will receive a cash prize of $1,000 and the Narrative and Animation winners may also qualify to enter their films in the Short Film category of the Academy Awards®.

SIFF once again enlisted FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics, to jury a selection of films from the New American Cinema section. SIFF is one of three festivals in the United States to host a FIPRESCI jury, with the winning film awarded the FIPRESCI Prize. FIPRESCI, in existence for more than 65 years, with members in over 60 countries, supports cinema as an art and as an outstanding and autonomous means of expression. New American Cinema features eligible for the FIPRESCI award include:

“LOVE,” directed by William Eubank (USA, 2011)
“Black, White and Blues,” directed by Mario Van Peebles (USA, 2010)
“Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same,” directed by Madeleine Olnek (USA, 2011)
“Letters From the Big Man,” directed by Christopher Munch (USA, 2011)
“Jess + Moss,” directed by Clay Jeter (USA, 2011)
“Gun Hill Road,” directed by Rashaad Ernesto Green (USA, 2011)
“On the Ice,” directed by Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (USA, 2011)
“August,” directed by Eldar Rapaport (USA, 2011)
“Natural Selection,” directed by Robbie Pickering (USA, 2011)
“Roadie,” directed by Michael Cuesta (USA, 2011)

Golden Space Needle Awards

Audiences are encouraged to vote for their favorite features for the esteemed audience award, The Golden Space Needle, given to Best Film, Best Documentary, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Short Film. The Golden Space Needle winner for Best Short Film will receive a brand new Mac computer, fully loaded with the latest film making software from The Mac Store, and will receive $1,000 of film stock from Eastman Kodak.

Posted on May 12, 2011 in Festivals by

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  1. Miel Garshan on Thu, 12th May 2011 9:43 pm 

    International Film festival, hmmm I expect to see the best of the best directors with their master piece.. well, I am a movie critic myself and with the movie industry today.. Movies are made just for money.. the quality is great..graphics and effects..and all but the story just doesn’t make sense anymore… more movies are made out of special effects..hmmmm It’s just useless… see and judge for yourself.. watch the different kinds of movies and see what’s lacking in this field of art. http://dFL8.me/3ebb7

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