2017 Seattle International Film Festival preview
The longest film festival in the world is about to kick off! The 43rd Seattle International Film Festival is just around the corner - and even though there's still just about two weeks left before the start of the festival, it's never too soon for a deep dive into the festival schedule.
SIFF will unveil its complete festival lineup of events and movies on May 3. But unlike just about any other film festival on Earth, picking and choosing and planning a SIFF itinerary of movies can be a daunting task: the festival screens hundreds and hundreds of films over a 25-day marathon of movie binging. For the 2017 edition of SIFF, the festival will feature 400 total films, crafted by artists from 80 different nations, to create the 161 feature-length films and 163 short films that will pack the SIFF schedule between May 18 through June 11.
Because sifting through the dense SIFF festival guide can be a bit overwhelming, here are 25 recommended picks to add to your festival schedule:
"Life in Pieces" star Zoe Lister-Jones' directorial debut landed her a Grand Jury Prize nomination at Sundance and on several 'Best of Sundance' lists. She pulls triple duty as writer-director-star in this unconventional comedy about a young married couple who channel their marital problems into songs. Adam Pally ("Happy Endings"), Fred Armisen, Susie Essman ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") and Hannah Simone ("New Girl") co-star.
"Beatriz at Dinner"
This Salma Hayek-led indie comedy reunites the writing-director combo of Miguel Arteta and Mike White ("Chuck & Buck" and "The Good Girl"). In this dinner-party from hell comedy, a modest immigrant from Mexico finds herself surrounded by smug one-percenters celebrating themselves. Chloë Sevigny, Connie Britton and John Lithgow co-star.
"The Big Sick"
SIFF 2017 kicks off its Opening Night Gala with one of the most celebrated films of the festival circuit. Kumail Nanjiani stars as himself in this rom-com take on the challenging courtship of him and his now-wife Emily Gordon (played by Zoe Kazan). Director Michael Showalter is just coming off the success of his indie gem "Hello, My Name is Doris" as well as the woefully underappreciated rom-com "The Baxter." Ray Romano, Holly Hunter and Aidy Bryant co-star.
"SNL" cast member Kyle Mooney's first foray as a leading man puts him in the shoes of a sheltered man-child struggling with the abrupt cancellation of his favorite children's TV show. This indie comedy was a Best of Sundance pick by Variety, SlashFilm and Thrillist. Beck Bennett, Claire Danes and Mark Hamill co-star.
Following up the climate-change documentary "Chasing Ice," Jeff Orlowski's latest film explores the rapidly vanishing coral reefs of the world. It won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at Sundance and won three awards at the Boulder International Film Festival.
"City of Ghosts"
Director Matthew Heineman's last film - the incredible "Cartel Land" put the audience on the frontline of the US-Mexico drug war. This time, Heineman follows a group of anonymous citizen journalists who - at great peril - try to win the battle against ISIS by chronicling the ravaging of their home city in Syria.
John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson star in this rom-com-drama as two people stuck in Columbus, Indiana for very different reasons. Parker Posey also stars in this film that popped up on Best of Sundance lists from SlashFilm, Thrillist and IndieWire.
This timely documentary, in the 'Black Lives Matter' age, goes behind the thin blue line and inside a struggling Oakland Police Department. While they try to win back the community's trust, the department is embroiled in a scandal. Director Peter Nicks won Best Director honors at Sundance.
"A Ghost Story"
"Ain't Them Bodies Saints" was one of the very best films of SIFF 2013 - and its director (David Lowery) and lead actors (Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara) return for this widely acclaimed festival gem. Esquire, Rolling Stone, Collider, IndieWire and several other outlets called this one of the best films of Sundance.
"God's Own Country"
Director Francis Lee won honors from the Berlin International Film Festival and Sundance for this drama following a sheep farmer whose life is shaken up by a migrant worker.
Set against the turmoil of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, this 'Best of Next!' Sundance winner follows two young Korean American brothers who must defend the family shoe store amid rioters and looters.
Iconic actor Sam Elliott will be the guest of honor for "An Afternoon with Sam Elliott" event, which will celebrate the actor's career. Rolling Stone called his performance in "The Hero" - that of an aging actor forced to look back at his life - one of the highlight of Sundance.
"I, Daniel Blake"
Simply put, this is one of the most celebrated films to come out of Europe in the past year. It won the BAFTA for Outstanding British Film of the Year," director Ken Loach won a Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and it won Best Foreign Film honors at the Cesar Awards as well as the Vancouver Internation Film Festival.
This AFI FEST audience award nominee follows a young woman who has lost her memory and finds herself in a place that could exist somewhere between life and death. Won awards at the Toronto International Film Festival and Palm Springs International Film Festival.
The featured film of the Centerpiece Gala reunites the director and star of past SIFF favorite "Obvious Girl." Jenny Slate, Edie Falco and Finn Wittrock star in this period piece set way back in the '80s that was a critical hit at Sundance.
A man hanging on by a thread spins out of control after his girlfriend of 10 years leaves him. Brett Gelman stars in this dark comedy that SlashFilm and The Hollywood Reporter called one of the best of Sundance.
"The Little Hours"
Almost no description of this ridiculous looking, uber-profane comedy about a trio of foul-mouthed nuns (Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie and Kate Micucci) can do this film justice. Dave Franco, John C. Reilly, Fred Armisen and Nick Offerman also star in this comedy considered by SlashFilm and Business Insider as one of the best of Sundance.
Cate Blanchett fans rejoice! One of the best actresses working today doesn't give just one or two or even three performances in this film - she plays 13 characters delivering monologues in this experimental art flick.
Variety, Esquire, IndieWire and The Hollywood Reporter all sang the praises of this story of a Jersey girl's unlikely aspiration to become a legitimate rap superstar. Bridget Everett and Cathy Moriarty also star.
"The Trip to Spain"
If this film is even just as consistently great as the two incredible previous films ("The Trip" and "The Trip to Italy"), then "The Trip" trilogy will legitimately have to be considered among the
great cinematic trilogies of all time.
"The Unknown Girl"
The Dardenne brothers ("Two Days One Night") is a seal of quality. Their latest follows a woman's journey to discover the true identity of a prostitute. The film was nominated for awards at Cannes, the Cesar Awards and Lumiere Awards.
The latest from writer-director Taylor Sheridan ("Hell or High Water," "Sicario") follows a pair of authorities (Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen) as they investigate the murder of a young girl in the wilderness. This crime thriller was nominated for awards at Cannes and considered one of the best films at Sundance by Rolling Stone, The Hollywood Reporter and SlashFilm.