Posted in: by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Film Festivals

SIFF 2011 Preview: Get Ready for the Deluge

The line-up for the 37th Seattle International Film Festival, which opens on Thursday, May 19 with the Opening Night Gala screening of British/Kenyan film The First Grader, directed by Justin Chadwick, and runs for 25 days at venues throughout Seattle, Renton, Everett and Kirkland, was officially announced at its press launch today.

Among the 257 feature films from 74 countries (a record cinematic representation of nations for the festival) are seven world premieres (mostly from the U.S.), 26 North American Premieres (including the biopic Bruce Lee, My Brother from Hong Kong and the UK comedy Killing Bono) and 18 U.S. premieres, including a Special Presentation of Tran Anh Hung’s adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s novel Norwegian Wood. 184 shorts will also be presented throughout the festival, 44 of them world premieres.

The Closing Night Gala (on Sunday, June 12) is the documentary Life in a Day, directed by Kevin Macdonald and produced by Ridley and Tony Scott with National Geographic Productions, and the Centerpiece Gala is Service Entrance, a comedy from France directed by Philippe Le Gauy.

Tran Anh Hung's "Norwegian Wood" makes its North American debut at SIFF 2011

Other Special Presentations and Tributes include:

Ewan McGregor Tribute: McGregor will receive this years’ Golden Space Needle Award for Outstanding Achievement in Acting at a screening of Beginners, directed by Mike Mills, on Sunday, May 22 at the Egyptian Theatre, followed by an audience Q&A with the actor. The festival will also screen Moulin Rouge!, The Pillow Book and the Seattle premiere of Perfect Sense as part of the tribute.

Warren Miller Tribute: The ski movie auteur will be honored with the Festival’s Golden Space Needle for Lifetime Achievement on Wednesday, June 8 at Benaroya Hall.

Al Pacino: One Night Only: an intimate evening with Al Pacino, who will share his life and career through stories and film clips on Saturday, June 11, 2011 at 8pm at The Paramount Theatre. Presented in conjunction with the Seattle Theatre Group.

The New American Cinema Party, following the screening of Miranda July’s The Future on May 21 at the Pacific Place Cinemas.

The Gay-la Party following Eldar Rapaport’s August on Thursday, June 9 at the Egyptian Theatre.

Asian Crossroads: Saigon Electric, Stephane Gauger’s drama about the hip-hop scene in Vietnam, kicks off the Asian Crossroads series (presented by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) on Saturday, May 28 at the Neptune Theatre (fresh from renovations by its new proprietors, the Seattle Theater Group)

Special Presentations of The Importance of Being Earnest (not a film but a Broadway performance captured live in HD and presented via digital video), Raul Ruiz’s sprawling Mysteries of Lisbon, the documentary Tornado Alley and the Iranian drama The White Meadows from director Mohammad Rasoulof, who was arrested and incarcerated for two weeks by Iranian officials in March 2010.

Archival Screenings of Powell and Pressburger’s Black Narcissus (1947) and Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960), from new prints courtesy of The Film Foundation, and the 1969 film The Night of Counting the Years from Egypt.

A Special Screening of Raoul Walsh’s silent fantasy adventure The Thief of Bagdad (1924) with a unique score adapted by Shadoe Stevens from the music of ELO.

A free outdoor screening of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (which had its U.S. debut as the closing night film of SIFF in 1999) at Juanita Beach Park in Kirkland on Saturday, May 28.

In addition to the newly renovated Neptune, the new SIFF Film Center, currently nearing completion at Seattle Center, is scheduled to be ready in time to host festival events. The festival will also travel for week-long presentations in Renton (beginning Friday, May 20 at the Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center), Everett (starting May 26 at the Everett Performing Arts Center) and Kirkland (June 2, Kirkland Performing Arts Center).

The Seattle International Film Festival is the biggest and most well-attended film festival in the United States (approximately 155,000 people attended SIFF 2010, according to festival estimates), runs for 25 days from Thursday, May 19 to Sunday, June 12.

The SIFF website is currently live but features only minimal information and tickets for a few select events. The full line-up will be available here on May 5, when the SIFF 2010 box-office opens. A paper magazine-style guide will also be available. The full catalogue will be available opening night.

See also Richard T. Jameson’s preview at Straight Shooting with Richard T. Jameson.

The official press release is featured below, after the official festival trailer.

2011 Festival Trailer from Seattle International Film Festi on Vimeo.


Film Industry Luminaries Ewan McGregor, Warren Miller, Al Pacino Scheduled to Appear

Seattle, WA – The 37th Seattle International Film Festival, the largest and most highly-attended event of its kind in the United States today announced the galas, tribute events and special presentations for this year’s Festival. The 25 day event, which runs from May 19 through June 12, will feature 441 films (257 features, 184 shorts) – including 96 feature and short premieres and a Festival record 74 countries represented – with screenings at venues throughout Seattle, Renton, Everett and Kirkland.

“This year’s Festival will feature one of the largest and most diverse programs that we have ever put together in our 37 year history, highlighting the best in cinema from around the world,” said SIFF Artistic Director Carl Spence. “There’s something for everyone as audiences will have a wide range of films and events to choose from including evenings with our special guests Ewan McGregor, Warren Miller, and Al Pacino as well as our strong line-up of films in competition and a record number of countries represented which all combine to make this one of the leading international film festivals.”


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, which tells the remarkable story of an 84-year-old Kenyan villager determined to seize his last chance to get the education he could never afford. The screening is at Seattle Center’s McCaw Hall, with the Opening Night Gala reception at Seattle Center’s Exhibition Hall immediately following the screening.

The Centerpiece Gala will be Saturday, June 4 and feature a screening of Service Entrance (France, Strand Releasing), directed by Philippe Le Gauy, a comedy about a Parisian stockbroker whose life is turned upside down when an exuberant Spanish maid moves into the servants’ quarters above, at the Egyptian Theatre, with the Centerpiece Gala reception at Seattle’s Daughters of the American Revolution Hall immediately following the screening.

The Festival will conclude on Sunday, June 12 with the Closing Night Gala a screening of the groundbreaking documentary Life in a Day (UK, National Geographic Entertainment), directed by Kevin Macdonald, which brilliantly weaves footage submitted by thousands of contributors from around the world to catalog the events of a single day, into a spellbinding mosaic masterpiece. The screening is at the Cinerama Theatre, with the Closing Night Gala reception at the Pan Pacific Hotel immediately following the screening.


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.

In recognition of his illustrious career, Ewan McGregor will receive this years’ Golden Space Needle Award for Outstanding Achievement in Acting at a special tribute event featuring a screening of his new film, Beginners (USA), on Sunday, May 22 at the Egyptian Theatre.

A special tribute dinner for Mr. McGregor and 75 guests will take place immediately following the screening and interview at Prava Studios and will be prepared by James Beard Award-winning chef, Thierry Rautureau of Rover’s and Luc Restaurants in Seattle. Tickets for the dinner are $250, which includes reserved seating to the tribute event, and are available for purchase at

Special retrospective screenings of Moulin Rouge! andPeter Greenaway’s The Pillow Book, and the Seattle premiere of another of Mr. McGregor’s new films, David Mackenzie’s Perfect Sense,will also be featured at the Festival.

Warren Miller, an industry legend whose name has been synonymous with action sports films for over 60 years, will be honored with the Festival’s Golden Space Needle for Lifetime Achievement on Wednesday, June 8 at Benaroya Hall.

In conjunction with the Seattle Theatre Group, SIFF will also welcome one of cinema’s most riveting stars, Al Pacino, for a special, one night only, event to discuss his passion for acting and directing, up close and personal, at the Paramount Theatre on Saturday, June 11.

Feature 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.


New to this years’ Festival, SIFF has developed ten Pathways to help moviegoers find the film and experience that suites their moods. Instead of using traditional categories, SIFF Pathways easily connect the audience with films by organizing them into areas that help answer the question “what sort of film do I feel like seeing tonight?”

2011 Festival Pathways:
Love Me, Do! Romance and love in all its forms, pleasures, and idiosyncrasies.
Make Me Laugh Films that make you chuckle and tickle your funny bone.
Thrill Me Suspense, thrills, and action. Films with a faster pace that might also surprise you when you least expect it.
Creative Streak The exploration of artistic endeavors from all disciplines: literature, film, art, dance, and performance.
Open My Eyes Revealing films and documentaries revolving around history, politics, and contemporary events from around the world.
Sci-Fi and Beyond Science, technology, environment, the future-and beyond.
Take Me Away Be prepared to be taken to another place – from exotic far-off lands to vibrant experiences outside of everyday life.
Spellbinding Stories Mesmerizing dramas and documentaries that explore thought-provoking questions, realities, and topics.
To the Extreme Explore the outer limits with films that go beyond the edge.
Face the Music Films that intersect the world of music on all fronts: from biopics and concert films, to musicals and live events.

Special Presentations & Parties

This year’s Festival will feature 5 special presentation screenings: The Importance of Being Earnest (Dir. Brian Bedford, United Kingdom); Mysteries of Lisbon (Dir. Raul Ruiz, Portugal); Norwegian Wood (Dir. Tran Anh Hung, Japan); Tornado Alley (Dir. Sean Casey, USA); and The White Meadows (Dir. Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran). Two additional films will be presented with after-parties. The New American Cinema Party will feature a screening of The Future (Dir. Miranda July, USA) on May 21 at the Pacific Place Cinemas. The Gay-la party will feature a screening of August (Dir. Eldar Rapaport, USA) on Thursday, June 9 at the Egyptian Theatre. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (Dir. Jay Roach, USA), which had its US debut as the closing night film of SIFF in 1999 will be shown as a free outdoor evening screening at Juanita Beach Park on Saturday, May 28.

Competitions & Awards

New Directors Competition Festival programmers select 10 films remarkable for their original concept, striking style and overall excellence. To be eligible films must be a director’s first or second feature and without U.S. distribution at the time of their selection.

2011 Entrees: Absent (Dir. Marco Berger, Argentina); Almanya (Dir. Yasemin Samdereli, Germany); Artificial Paradises (Dir. Yulene Olaizola, Mexico); Belle Epine (Dir. Rebecca Zlotowski, France); Cairo 678 (Dir. Mohamed Diab, Egypt); Every Song is About Me (Dir. Jonas Trueba, Spain); Flying Fish (Dir. Sanjeewa Pushpakumara, Sri Lanka); Gandu (Dir. Q – Kaushik Mukherjee, India); The Most Important Thing in Life is Not Being Dead (Dirs. Olivier Pictel, Pablo Martin Torrado, Mark Recuenco, Switzerland); Por El Camino (Dir. Charly Braun, Brazil)

Documentary Competition Festival programmers select 10 films that are unscripted and uncut, the world is a resource of unexpected, informative, and altogether exciting storytelling. Documentary filmmakers have, for years, brought these untold stories to life and introduced us to a vast number of fascinating topics we may have never known existed-let alone known were so fascinating.

2011 Entrees: An African Election (Dir. Jarreth Merz, Ghana); Bicycle, Spoon, Apple (Dir. Carles Bosch, Spain); The Green Wave (Dir. Ali Samadi Ahadi, Germany); Hot Coffee (Dir. Susan Saladoff, USA); Marathon Boy (Dir. Gemma Atwal, India); PressPausePlay (Dirs. David Dworsky, Victor Köhler, Sweden); Red Eyes (Dirs., Juan Pablo Sallato, Ismael Larrain, Juan Ignacio Sabatini, Chile); Rothstein’s First Assignment (Dir. Richard Knox Robinson, USA); Sushi: The Global Catch (Dir. Mark Hall, USA); To Be Heard (Dirs. Amy Sultan, Roland Legiardi-Laura, Deborah Shaffer, Edwin Martinez, USA)

SIFF Shorts Competition All short films shown at the Festival are eligible for both the Golden Space Needle Audience Award and Jury Award. Shorts Competition jurors will choose winners in the Narrative, Animation, and Documentary categories.

WaveMaker Award for Excellence in Youth Filmmaking Sponsored in part by Adobe Youth Voices and presented to one filmmaker, 18 years old or younger, from the FutureWave program, whose talents celebrate the creative possibilities of film. All FutureWave films shown at the Festival are eligible for the award.

FIPRESCI Jury Award Selected by the International Federation of Film Critics from 10 films from the New American Cinema section.

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

Golden Space Needle Awards Given in five categories (Best Film, Best Documentary, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Short Film) as voted by festival audiences. Awards are presented on Sunday, June 12 at the Space Needle.


SIFF venues in Renton, Everett and Kirkland will each have their own Opening Night festivities as well. Renton Opening Night is Friday, May 20 and will feature a screening of Black, White and Blues (2010). Everett Opening Night is Thursday, May 26 and will feature a screening of Young Goethe in Love (2010). Kirkland Opening Night is Thursday, June 2 and will feature the latest filmby award-winning director David Pinillos, Bon Appétit (2010).

Seattle: Admiral Theatre, Benaroya Hall, Cinerama Theatre, Egyptian Theatre, Harvard Exit, Majestic Bay Theatres, McCaw Hall, Neptune Theatre, Pacific Place Cinemas, Pacific Science Center IMAX, Paramount Theatre, SIFF Cinema, SIFF Film Center, SIFF Lounge at boom noodle, The Triple Door

Everett: Everett Performing Arts Center

Kirkland: Kirkland Performance Center, Juanita Beach Park

Renton: Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center

To learn more about this announcement and 2011 SIFF, go to


About SIFF

Now in its 37th year, the Seattle International Film Festival is the largest and most highly-attended film festival in the United States, showcasing more than 400 films from over 60 countries to an audience of 150,000 attendees annually. In the fall of 2011, SIFF will open the SIFF Film Center at Seattle Center’s Alki Room, thereby fulfilling its long-standing vision of creating a permanent home where SIFF’s successful film, education, and community outreach programs can thrive.

The 37th Seattle International Film Festival is made possible in part by support from Xfinity, The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Brotherton Cadillac Buick GMC, Alaska Airlines, Don Q Rums, The Wallace Foundation, Wong Doody, American Airlines, Modern Digital, POP, City Arts Magazine, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and Warren Miller Company.