SIFF 2012: highlights, awards, returning films and more
Seattle International Film Festival 2012 has come to a close, but you'll still have a chance to see some of the movies when they return to Seattle for regular runs. Here's a list of returning films, plus highlights from SIFF artistic director Carl Spence and Golden Space Needle award winners.
Seattle Times movie critic
SIFF award winnersAudience awards
Golden Space Needles
Best film: "Any Day Now"
Best documentary: "The Invisible War"
Best director: Benh Zeitlin, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Best actor: Alan Cumming, "Any Day Now"
Best actress: Jamie Chung, "Eden"
Best short film: "Catcam"
Best new director: Nicolas Provost, "The Invader"
Best documentary: "Five Star Existence"
Best narrative short: "The Extraordinary Life of Rocky"
Best animated short: "Zergut"
Best documentary short: "Paradise"
FIPRESCI Prize for Best New American Film: "Welcome to Pine Hill"
For a complete list of winners, go to www.siff.net.
Returning SIFF filmsA number of SIFF films open in local theaters soon. Here's a partial list; note that release dates are subject to change:
"Safety Not Guaranteed" (now playing)
"Moonrise Kingdom" (now playing)
"Oslo, August 31" (now playing)
"Your Sister's Sister" (June 15)
"Lola Versus" (June 15)
"Keyhole" (June 15)
"Bel Ami" (June 15)
"Extraterrestrial" (June 15)
"The Woman in the Fifth" (June 15)
"Brave" (June 22)
"I Wish" (June 22)
"True Wolf" (June 22)
"Grassroots" (June 22)
"Polisse" (June 29)
"People Like Us" (June 29)
"God Bless America" (June 29)
"Take This Waltz" (July 13)
"Starry Starry Night" (July 6)
"The Do-Deca Pentathlon" (July 6)
"Elena" (July 13)
"Beasts of the Southern Wild" (July 13)
"Paul Williams Still Alive" (July 13)
"Pink Ribbons Inc." (July 13)
"Trishna" (July 20)
"Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry" (Aug. 3)
"The Imposter" (Aug. 10)
"Queen of Versailles" (Aug. 10)
"Unforgivable" (Aug. 10)
"Compliance" (Aug. 24)
"Hello I Must Be Going" (fall TBD)
"The Details" (fall TBD)
After approximately 700 screenings over three and a half weeks at venues all over town, the 38th annual Seattle International Film Festival drew to a close Sunday, with a gala screening of the made-in-Seattle film "Grassroots." The festival also announced its awards, with top prizes going to "Any Day Now" and "The Invader."
This was a transitional year for the festival: SIFF Central this year was the Uptown, the Queen Anne theater acquired by SIFF last August. The Uptown's three screens hummed throughout the festival, and artistic director Carl Spence noted that it was helpful to have multiple screens of varying sizes in one venue, so organizers had flexibility in deciding which film would go where based on audience demand.
And the festival unveiled a free parking program at two local lots near the Uptown, which became busier as more festivalgoers learned of it. "We're installing signage so we can utilize those [lots] throughout the year," said Spence of the perk, available weekday evenings and all day weekends (a free pass must be picked up at the Uptown box office).
Though Spence didn't know yet whether general attendance was up from last year, he said a trend this year was fewer people buying tickets in advance, and more buying day-of-show tickets. The number of full-series passholders was also up from last year, he said.
The crowds got a little too big for the May 23 premiere of the locally filmed comedy "Safety Not Guaranteed," the theater (the Uptown's largest) filled up quickly, and dozens of ticketed festivalgoers were turned away. "We made a mistake on the operations side," said Spence, explaining that typically SIFF sets aside a "generous allotment" of seats for passholders — a number arrived at by examining turnouts at past festivals. But this time too many passholders were let in first, leaving not enough seats for ticket holders. Those turned away were given tickets to other screenings. "It all worked out; just something to address," said Spence.
"Safety Not Guaranteed" was one of a number of heavily attended screenings; these included, said Spence, other locally made films (particularly "Ira Finkelstein's Christmas" and "Fat Kid Rules the World") and studio movies screening at SIFF shortly before their theatrical releases ("People Like Us," "Moonrise Kingdom"). And SIFF always holds a few unexpected hits, such as "King Curling," a Norwegian comedy about a washed-up former curling champion, and the road movie "Italy Love It Or Leave It."
This festival was transitional in another aspect: It featured a dramatic drop in the number of films shown on 35mm as opposed to digital formats. Spence estimated that only about 24 percent of the festival's offerings were on film. While digital projection presents technical challenges (a variety of formats exist, all with their own protocols), Spence said the benefit is "that you're not getting a beat-up print that's traveled the world and looks really terrible with scratches at every reel change. You show the digital film and it looks like the first time it was shown anywhere." He estimates that SIFF may well be all-digital within a few years, with the possible exception of archival prints.
Looking back at SIFF 2012, Spence described a particularly magical moment, at the screening of the local music-festival documentary "Welcome to Doe Bay."
"The musician Ben Fisher sings and performs during the end credits," he said, "and he showed up at the end of the film and as the credits started rolling, he started performing. They turned the sound down and he sang the entire song — an acoustic performance in the Egyptian. Pretty extraordinary." At SIFF, you can always expect the unexpected.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or email@example.com