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Originally published April 27, 2014 at 6:05 AM | Page modified May 14, 2014 at 4:24 PM

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Appearances by Laura Dern and Richard Linklater among SIFF 2014 highlights

Actors Laura Dern and Chiwetel Ejiofor, and director John Ridley are among those being paid tribute at the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival. Directors Richard Linklater and Richard Rush will also appear.

Seattle Times movie critic

Festival preview

Seattle International Film Festival

May 15-June 8 at various locations. Information:


What has 276 feature films, an army of big-name special guests and more popcorn than anyone can decently imagine? It’s the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF), which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and unspools May 15 through June 8 at a number of locations in and around Seattle.

Hendrix biopic “Jimi: All Is By My Side” kicks off the festival as its gala opener at McCaw Hall, with writer/director John Ridley on the red carpet (he’s a recent Oscar winner, for writing “12 Years a Slave”). He’ll be the first of a number of guests, two of whom are receiving special tributes.

Laura Dern, who’s had a long career in movies and television (most recently as star of the HBO series “Enlightened”) will be present May 17 for a special afternoon event, to include a screening of “Wild at Heart.”

Chiwetel Ejiofor, an Oscar nominee this year for best actor in “12 Years a Slave,” will also visit the festival on May 19, hosting a screening of the short film he directed, “Columbite Tantalite,” followed by the Nigerian film “Half of a Yellow Sun” in which he stars with Thandie Newton, and a late-night screening of the 2005 Joss Whedon film “Serenity.”

Both the Dern and Ejiofor events will include a clip presentation of highlights from their careers, an onstage interview, an audience Q & A and a reception.

Among the filmmakers visiting SIFF will be Richard Linklater (“Before Midnight,” “Dazed and Confused”), whose new film “Boyhood” will be the festival’s centerpiece gala May 31; festival co-founder Dan Ireland, who’ll return to present a special anniversary screening of his 1996 film “The Whole Wide World” (which premiered at SIFF, and was an early starring role for Renée Zellweger); and Richard Rush, who’ll attend with his 1980 film (and SIFF hit) “The Stunt Man.”

Venues for the festival’s full three-and-a-half weeks will include the Egyptian (reopening, just for SIFF), SIFF Cinema Uptown, SIFF Film Center, Harvard Exit and Pacific Place, with Bellevue’s Lincoln Square Cinemas hosting SIFF screenings May 16-29.

The Renton Ikea Performing Arts Center will present a week of SIFF programming, kicking off May 22 with a special opening-night screening of Seattle filmmaker Megan Griffiths’ “Lucky Them,” starring Toni Collette and Thomas Haden Church.

The Kirkland Performance Center also gets in on the act, hosting four nights of SIFF and opening May 29 with Canadian filmmaker Don McKellar present for his new comedy, “The Grand Seduction.”

SIFF continues to showcase its African Pictures program (inaugurated last year), with more than a dozen films from across the African continent — including the world premiere of Henk Pretorius’s “Leading Lady” (the filmmaker’s “Fanie Fourie’s Lobola” won SIFF’s top audience award last year) and Academy Award-winning documentarian Alex Gibney’s “Finding Fela,” about afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti.

Tickets and passes go on sale May 1; the full lineup will also be announced then, on and in printed SIFF guides available at local Starbucks outlets and all festival venues. The main festival box office, on the second level of Pacific Place, also opens that day, and SIFF goers can also buy tickets online or, once the festival begins, at any participating venue. For more information, see

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

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