3 thrilling moments at Seattle International Film Festival 2011
Seattle Times reviewers relate some of their favorite moments of SIFF 2011. Plus, a list of Golden Space Needle award winners of 2011.
Best of SIFFMissed a few SIFF movies? Catch up at "Best of SIFF," a three-day postscript at SIFF Cinema featuring 13 award-winning and audience-favorite films from this year's festival. See www.siff.net for a full schedule. McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., Seattle (206-633-7151 or www.siff.net).
SIFF award winnersAudience awards (Golden Space Needles)
Best film: "Paper Birds"
Best documentary: "To Be Heard"
Best director: Larysa Kondracki, "The Whistleblower"
Best actor: Bill Skarsgård, "Simple Simon"
Best actress: Natasha Petrovic, "As If I Am Not There"
Best short film: "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore"
New directors competition: "Gandu," directed by "Q" Kaushik Mukherjee
Documentary competition: "Hot Coffee"
Shorts competition — narrative: "Time Freak"
Shorts competition — animation: "The Eagleman Stag"
Shorts competition — documentary: "Library of Dust"
FIPRESCI Prize (selected by the International Federation of Film Critics): "On the Ice"
For a complete list of winners, including runners-up, go to siff.net.
Three-and-a-half weeks. Hundreds of films. Millions of moments.
Seattle International Film Festival drew to a close Sunday, and all who attended have their own special memories. Here are just a few, below, related by Seattle Times reviewers, who together spent hundreds of hours watching movies, standing in lines and meeting other festivalgoers (maybe you?). To add your own memory to the list, find this story at www.seattletimes.com and leave a comment.
I was on the sidewalk outside the Egyptian a few Saturdays ago, waiting to be let in for the four-and-a-half-hour Portuguese epic "Mysteries of Lisbon" and pleasantly chatting with some nice people for whom a four-and-a-half-hour Portuguese epic seemed a perfectly reasonable way to spend an afternoon. We waited, and waited, and suddenly there was an explosion of people on the sidewalk, exiting the theater: The standing-room-only Q&A for "Page One: Inside The New York Times" had just let out, and everyone was bursting with chatter about the movie, about the points made in the Q&A, about what this movie had put into their minds. It was, from my spot on the sidewalk, an amazing thing to witness; this sea of excited, engaged moviegoers. Generally we all leave movies quietly, keeping to ourselves; it's nice when something like SIFF gives us the chance to turn to the person next to us, whether friend or stranger, and start a conversation.
Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic
It happens every year at the Seattle International Film Festival. The audience registers a collective sense of déjà vu when two (sometimes three or even four) movies from different countries produce identical plot lines — including details that would seem to be more than coincidence. This year the Spanish film "Amador" told the story of a house maid who is assigned to take care of an elderly invalid, then suddenly goes off the deep end when circumstances change. All but abandoned by seemingly indifferent relatives, the maid is forced to deal with drastic alterations. Something quite similar happens to the heroine of the filmed-on-Whidbey-Island movie, "Without," in which an old man becomes the helpless object of a lonely young woman who acts out her feelings when she thinks no one's looking. Both movies build suspense around the relatives' inevitable homecoming, though the Spanish film has a sunnier finale. Watching them back-to-back, in a festival setting, you could draw conclusions about American-vs.-European approaches to a caretaker crisis. Or not. It's really up to you.
John Hartl, special to The Seattle Times
There's an interesting equanimity to the crowd of regulars who attend the daily SIFF screenings reserved for full-series pass holders and members of the press. No matter the movie — however ridiculous or boring or wonderful or agitating — these folks face it with aplomb. Is it docility, a lack of passion? Certainly it seems a viable strategy for emotional survival during a huge film festival. It also doesn't mean people aren't genuinely affected by what they see.
One of the more talked-about moments at a daily screening was a mass walkout of viewers during a grisly scene in Shunji Iwai's "Vampire." I felt the scene was wrongheaded, but sensed Iwai could recover. He did, ultimately delivering one of the most deeply stirring, original films in the fest. Yet there was no air of hostility as people hurried out early (they might have expressed it later), and I felt no ill will toward them. That's not to say strongly expressed feelings are unwelcome. But simply, calmly voting with one's feet might be the wiser course for ordinary mortals during the SIFF juggernaut.
Tom Keogh, Special to The Seattle Times
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