Now in its 40th year, the Seattle International Film Festival brings 435 features, documentaries and short films to the Seattle area from around the world.
This year’s festival runs from May 15 through June 8, and if you don’t feel like making the trip to one of SIFF’s nine venues in Seattle, you can also see films on the eastside at the Kirkland Performing Arts Center and at Bellevue’s Lincoln Square Cinemas.
The festival’s offerings range from the obscure to the relatively mainstream, so there’s something for everyone.
Tickets for most films are $12, matinees are $9 and Films4Families (weekend matinees) are $7. Discounted ticket packages are available, as well as discounted tickets for SIFF members. For more information, including a list of films and showtimes, see www.siff.net. Here’s a look at a sampling of the films.
Half of a Yellow Sun In this adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel of the same name, sisters Olanna and Kainene return home to Nigeria in the 1960s after being educated in England. At first, the sisters are preoccupied with romance, sometimes straying into deceit and retaliation. The Nigerian Civil War interrupts that, and they’re forced to struggle for their lives. The drama insightfully shows conflicts of class, race and gender in 1960s Nigeria, but the story of the sisters’ love affairs is less interesting. (Nigeria/United Kingdom, 2013. Directed by Biyi Bandele.)The Keeper of Lost Causes “The Keeper of Lost Causes” might be a good movie — if you have a strong stomach. Clearly, I don’t, because I had to stop watching after a particularly gruesome torture scene. This crime thriller follows Carl, a moody, difficult detective who’s assigned to “Department Q,” where he will follow up on the last 20 years’ worth of cold cases in the hopes of closing them. He becomes obsessed with the case of Merete, a politician who seemingly killed herself by jumping off a ferry. The film will make your heart pound. But, although it’s full of suspense about who made Merete disappear, I had no real doubts about whether Carl would find the suspect. (Denmark/Germany/Sweden, 2013. Directed by Mikkel Norgaard.)
Natural Sciences When 12-year-old Lila begins acting out at boarding school, her teacher Jimena realizes her rebellion stems from a desire to find her father, who she’s never met. Without even knowing Lila’s father’s name, the two embark on a 2,000-km road trip to find him. Jimena uses the journey to impart scientific knowledge, urging Lila not to jump to conclusions, as well as emotional wisdom. Lila alternately nags, defies and shows small acts of kindness to her teacher. Lila finds both disappointment and connection in her search for her father, and it’s clear that she grows up in the process. (Argentina/France, 2014. Directed by Mattias Lucchesi.)Patema Inverted Patema lives in an underground society in which questioning the rules is forbidden, but she sneaks out to explore and dreams of finding other worlds. Age, bored, is staring at the sky when he spots Patema, clinging to a fence to keep from drifting away. Although the two teens are from different worlds with different gravitational pulls, they fall in love. The worlds they come from are strikingly similar in that the leaders of both value authority and morals, and fear science and progress. Patema and Age try to defy arbitrary rules and fight to stay together. Their desire to explore takes them even further than they expect, in this truly imaginative sci-fi romance. (Japan, 2013. Directed by Yasuhiro Yoshiura.)
Class Enemy A high school class is distraught when the teacher they love is replaced by a cold disciplinarian, who expounds upon the importance of rituals and makes a student read the definition of “loser” aloud after she fails to answer a question. When that student kills herself, her suicide sets off a witch-trial-esque series of allegations, in which students, parents and school officials blame each other and themselves for her death. I kept waiting to figure out who was innocent and who was guilty; then, I realized I wasn’t going to. There are no easy answers in this story, and no one’s words or actions are completely pure. “Class Enemy” is a slow-paced but tense drama that touches on many hot topics, like bullying and whether kids today are too overprotected. (Slovenia, 2013. Directed by Rok Bicek.)