I preview SIFF 2008 for GreenCine:
The 2008 Seattle International Film Festival opens on Thursday, May 22 with Battle in Seattle, a fictional portrait of the 1999 anti-globalization protests that met the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle, directed by Stuart Townsend and starring Charlize Theron (who is expected to attend with Townsend) and Woody Harrelson, and ends 3½ weeks later on Sunday, June 15. The complete schedule won’t be released until May 8, but we do have a preview of coming attractions.
Closing night film will be the Sundance-premiered Bottle Shock, the story of the California wine industry’s rise to international renown in the 70s, starring Alan Rickman and Bill Pullman. In a shift from tradition, the closing night gala will be on Saturday, June 14, with a full day of screenings to follow on Sunday. Perhaps it’s to help prevent those Monday morning hangovers from the closing night party.
For the first time I can remember, the film count has actually been pared back from the previous year, from 287 features and documentaries in 2007 to just under 250 this year. SIFF still holds claim to the title of biggest film festival in the US, both in numbers and in length (25 days of screenings, not counting weeks of advance press screenings). There’s a trade-off for such reach, of course, the most obvious being that SIFF does not attract a lot of high profile premieres. One exception this year: SIFF co-founder turned director Dan Ireland will premiere his film Jolene at the festival. Other world premieres include Julia Sweeney’s performance film Letting Go of God, the documentaries In Search of Kennedy from Chuck Workman and Garrison Keillor: The Man on the Radio in the Red Tennis Shoes (sure to be a sell-out in such a loyal public radio city), the British thriller The Disappeared (in the Midnight Adrenaline line-up), and a number of American films, many with a Northwest connection.
The “Emerging Masters” series continues with four new directors chosen to be honored with screenings and (hopefully) personal appearances. The most exciting choices are Abdel Kechiche, who took home four Cesar Awards this year for The Secret of the Grain, and Fatih Akin, with his new film The Edge of Heaven. I know them from their previous features. Both Kechiche’s Games of Love and Chance and Akin’s Head-On find their respective stories in the complicated social identities of their contemporary multi-cultural worlds. The other celebrated directors are Jeremy Podeswa (The Five Senses and Fugitive Pieces) from Canada and David Mackenzie (Young Adam and Mister Foe) from Great Britain.
Read the complete preview at GreenCine here.