The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) is the largest film festival in the United States, with an annual average attendance of 155,000. The 43rd SIFF kicks off tomorrow, May 18. For 25 days until June 11, film lovers in the Seattle area will be treated to a smorgasbord of films to whet their appetite: features, documentaries, shorts, premieres, competitions, from archival to avant-garde, and any genres to match their mood. SIFF 2017 offers close to 400 titles coming from over 70 countries.
What’s the difference between watching films in a Film Festival (FF) and watching movies in a theatre? You might ask. First off, in a FF, the international aspect is emphasized. True, you’ll have to read subtitles for those not in English, but watching foreign language films is one of the easiest ways to appreciate another culture and expand empathy. You’ll likely find there are more things in common than differences among us all.
Another special feature about FF is that many of the productions are from independent filmmakers. Hollywood and blockbuster movies are the mainstay in our Cineplexes, but in FF’s, we can savor the creative fruits from individual artists. Every year, SIFF receives over 4000 independent film submissions. It is therefore an honor for a film to be an ‘official selection’ at a major FF.
Some of them have come to compete, in other words, you will see quality productions. The SIFF website notes that more than 70% of the films screened at the Festival will not return to theaters. Many of these are works of film arts that are not distributed in commercial theaters. Of course we wish them all the best, especially quality ones and competition winners, as film industry buyers and distributors will be eyeing for good films at FF’s, ready to distribute them for the largest exposure possible later in theatrical releases.
In the Seattle area this weekend? Love French films? I’ve a recommendation for you. Here’s my capsule review.
Two venerable French actresses in one comedy drama is a major attraction from the director of Séraphine, Martin Provost. Claire (Catherine Frot) is an expert midwife, the encourager of new births. Her personal life though isn’t as up-lifting. One day her deceased father’s former mistress reappeared in her life, hurtful memories re-emerge. She is Béatrice, played by the legendary Catherine Deneuve. Their reunion sparks off comic and dramatic clashes. Béatrice is everything Claire avoids: booze, cigarettes, red meats, frivolity. Yet reconciliation is the only way to deal with their lot in life.
The Midwife will screen in Seattle this Friday and Saturday May 19, 20, and Tuesday, May 30. CLICK HERE to SIFF’s webpage for more info, trailer and tickets.