My Best of SIFF 2013

This was the 39th year of SIFF.

This was the 39th year of SIFF.

The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) ended two weeks ago, I know, but I gave up six weeks of my life to the festival and had some catching up to do!

SIFF started a little rough for me, as I was embroiled in an effort to get SIFF to release a privacy policy for data it claimed it didn’t collect, then said it wouldn’t use but did. This issue was covered by The Seattle Weekly, mostly from my point of view.

I also had a front-row view of a patron who sat in the wrong seat at Pacific Place, virtually dared management to toss him and then was (tossed). Finally, I was at a benefit screening of DECODING ANNIE PARKER, when the projector at The Egyptian broke down about a third of the way through the film. In retrospect, this was a signal of things happening behind the theater’s impending closing.

That all said, I saw more screenings (111, including Smoke Screenings and a couple duplicates) than ever, but also a higher percentage of films I really enjoyed. I offer this list because it might help you decide when some/many of these become available at the theater, Netflix, iTunes, etc. My tolerance of films usually is pretty high; if I find one aspect (story, direction, acting, cinematography) that is redeeming, I will have considered myself entertained. However, seeing this many films in such a compressed period of time also gives me a lot more context.

(NOTE: AS USUAL, CLICKING ON PHOTOS REVEALS LARGER VERSIONS IN A NEW BROWSER WINDOW).

MUST SEE (AGAIN)
Smoke Signals (USA): Based on a Sherman Alexie short story, this is a wonderful, all-Native American production from so long ago (15 years), you forget how great it is.

THE HONOR ROLL
1. Populaire (France): Delightful, upbeat, stylish story of a small-town young woman’s pursuit of the title of world’s fastest typist.
2. The Trials of Muhammad Ali (USA)-doc: Though Ali is a thoroughly mined subject, this doc manages to break new, fascinating ground.
3. The Wall (Austria): Martina Gedeck gives one of the festival’s best performances as a woman in the Austrian mountains who copes with being imprisoned behind an invisible barrier.
4. A Hijacking (Denmark): Brilliantly paced thriller that earns its “thriller” stripes by alternating between Somali pirates and their hijacked captives and the corporate executives with whom they are negotiating ransom.
5. The Hunt (Denmark): Mads Mikkelsen is brilliant as a teacher who is stalked by a town stirred by a child’s lie; guaranteed you will walk out of this outraged, as the audience is in on what is true.
6. Last I Heard (USA): This one is right in my sentimental wheelhouse — Paul Sorvino as an ailing mob boss who copes with his life and the real world after 20 years in prison.
7. Fanie Fourie’s Lobola (South Africa): Charming, funny account of a love affair between a white man and black woman — in South Africa. ‘Nuff said?
8. Still Mine (Canada): James Cromwell and Geneviève Bujold are fantastic as a couple in the twilight of their romance, and Cromwell’s character stubbornly fights the system.
9. Short Term 12 (USA): I loved Brie Larson in this low-budget, but exceptional story about counselors with their own issues at a facility for at-risk teens.
10. Inch’Allah (Canada): Sometimes sweet, sometimes enraging story of a doctor who crosses an eye-opening, cultural and political bridge between Israel and Palestine.
11. Inequality for All (USA)-doc: Economist, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich gives a crystal clear and entertaining explanation of the forces behind this country’s widening economic gap.
12. Twenty Feet from Stardom (USA)-doc: Very slick, very moving account of some of music’s all-time greatest back-up singers, most of whom you’ve heard, but never heard OF.
13. Horses of God (Morocco/France/Belgium): Inspired by the real-life 2003 terrorist attacks in Casablanca, this film follows two brothers and how their lives are funneled into fundamentalism.
14. I Declare War (USA): This film gets points for originality, following a group of 12-year-olds who play a game a war in the forest and exhibit grown-up capacities for leadership as well as lack of character.
15. Prince Avalanche (USA): I didn’t think I’d like this, but Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch are great as two highway workers isolated with their issues and from civilization.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
16. Two Lives (Germany)
17. In the Shadow (Czech)
18. Stuck in Love (USA)
19. ¡Atraco! (Spain)
20. The Kings of Summer (USA)
21. Before Snowfall (Norway)
22. Mistaken for Strangers (USA)-doc
23. Frances Ha (USA)
24. SOMM (USA)-doc
25. The Way Way Back (USA)
26. Key of Life (Japan)
27. Decoding Annie Parker (USA)
28. The Summit (USA)-doc
29. Blackfish (USA)-doc
30. House with a Turret (Russia)
31. The Fifth Season (Belgium)
32. A Lady in Paris (France)
33. Wish You Were Here (Australia)
34. Celestial Wives of Meadow Mari (Russia)
35. Camion (Canada)

RECOMMENDED
36. The Girl With Nine Wigs (Germany/Belgium)
37. Unfinished Song (UK)
38. Middleton (USA)
39. Our Nixon (USA)-doc
40. Red Obsession (Australia)
41. When I Saw You (Palestine)
42. Full Circle (China)
43. G.B.F. (USA)
44. Another Woman’s Face (Italy)
45. Moon Man (Germany)
46. In a World … (USA)
47. After Tiller (USA)-doc
48. Byzantium (UK)
49. The Spectacular Now (USA)
50. Touchy Feely (USA)
51. Concussion (USA)
52. Anita (USA)-doc
53. Jump (Ireland)
54. The Deep (Iceland/Norway)
55. C.O.G. (USA)
56. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (USA)
57. Comrade President (Zimbabwe)-doc
59. Redemption Street (Serbia)
60. Papadopolous & Sons (UK)
61. Monsters University (USA)
62. Mutual Friends (USA)
63. 9 Full Moons (USA)

RECOMMENDED, WITH RESERVATIONS
64. The Cleaner (Peru)
65. The East (USA)
66. Otherside (USA)-doc
67. Northwest (Denmark)
68. Invader (Spain)
69. The Forgotten Kingdom (USA)
70. Nishan (Ethiopia)
71. The Bling Ring
72. Yellow (USA)
73. Geography Club (USA)
74. Blackbird (Canada)
75. Mother of George (USA)
76. Earnest & Celestine (France)
77. Test (USA)
78. Evergreen: The Road to Legalization in Washington (USA)-doc
79. Teddy Bears (USA)
80. The Repentant (Algeria)
81. Her Aim is True (USA)-doc
82. The Moment (USA)
83. I Used to Be Darker (USA)
84. The Act of Killing (Denmark)-doc
85. Ali (Spain)

HMMM
86. Cold War (Hong Kong)
87. Putzel (USA)
88. Lasting (Poland/Spain)
89. Crystal Fairy (Chile)
90. Just Like a Woman (USA)

WALKED OUT (OR WISHED I HAD)
91. The Land of Hope (Japan)
92. Five Dances (USA)
94. DOCH (Russia)
95. Fatal (South Korea)
96. The African Cypher (South Africa)-doc
97. Augustine (France)
98. What Maisie Knew (USA)
99. Paradise: Faith (Austria/Germany/France)
100. Paradise: Love (Austria/Germany/France)
101. We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks (USA)-doc
102. Epic (USA)
103. After Winter, Spring (France/USA)-doc
104. Aayna Ka Bayna (India)
105. Youth (France)
106. Last Flight to Abuja (Nigeria)
107. The Plague (Spain)
108. Yesterday Never Ends (Spain)

Pass holders are issued queue cards to hold their place in line; these are from when I was first.

Pass holders are issued queue cards to hold their place in line; these are from when I was first.

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