“They don’t call SIFF America’s biggest film festival just for kicks,” writes David Schmader, introducing the Stranger‘s comprehensive guide. “Besides corralling 276 feature films (plus a couple dozen shorts packages) from all over the globe, the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival is three and a half weeks long, which means you have almost an entire month to dive into SIFF, get sick of it and ignore it for a while, then dive back in all over again.”
Writer-director John Ridley will be in Seattle this evening for the opening night screening of Jimi: All Is by My Side—see reviews from Toronto—and the “exceptional quality carries on through all of SIFF 2014’s special events, from the centerpiece gala screening (Richard Linklater‘s brand-new, instantly canonical Boyhood [reviews], with Linklater in attendance!) to the trio of tribute screening events honoring actor extraordinaire Chiwetel Ejiofor, actor extraordinaire (and David Lynch muse) Laura Dern, and Grammy-hoarding entertainment legend Quincy Jones, each of whom will submit to onstage Q&As before screenings of their signature films.”
The Weekly‘s critics have made their recommendations. One of Robert Horton‘s is What Is Cinema?, “the latest documentary by Oscar winner Chuck Workman; it gathers a batch of notable talkers and some judiciously chosen clips to answer the title question. Among the testifiers: David Lynch, Mike Leigh, Kelly Reichardt, Chantal Akerman, and vintage musings from the likes of Hitchcock and Bresson.” Topping Brian Miller‘s list is John Michael McDonagh’s Calvary, with Brendan Gleeson. I posted a round of reviews in February.
For those looking to attend—the festival’s on through June 8—Moira Macdonald has practical how-to in the Times, where she also talks with Ridley and notes that All Is by My Side is “a mood piece, not a biopic, and it works on its own terms.”
Viewing (6’12”). New Day‘s Margaret Larson talks with SIFF Managing Director, Mary Bacarella, and Director of Programming, Beth Barrett.
Update: For the Weekly, Sean Axmaker talks with Taylor Guterson, whose “debut Old Goats (SIFF ’11) and his new Burkholder both concern a group of of elderly, sometimes cantankerous codgers facing their retirement years on Bainbridge Island, where the director grew up. The films gently meander through their doings and conversations, which have a habit of detouring into blind alleys. Those detours are intentional, says Guterson, the son of bestselling novelist David Guterson (Snow Falling on Cedars): ‘There are people out there who think that that’s not how you tell a story, that you never bring up something that… doesn’t have a point. And to me it has a point. They go off on these tangents because that’s what they do.'”
Update, 5/16: Sean Axmaker presents an index to Parallax View‘s extensive coverage.
Updates, 5/24: In JIMI: All Is by My Side, Ridley has Hendrix beat a woman—twice. “I watched those scenes with the requisite horror,” writes the Stranger‘s David Schmader, “and I believed they were included because they were true. Part of this is just being a dutiful/gullible audience member, but another part had to do with the fact that the film in question was made by an African-American artist, who I perhaps racistly assumed would never allow such a damning, stereotype-enforcing story to be attached to a historically significant African-American artist unless it was irrefutably true.” Charles Cross, “the well-known Seattle writer who authored the bestselling Jimi Hendrix biography Room Full of Mirrors,” says it isn’t. Schmader’s followed up with Cross and discovered that Hendrix did indeed get violent with women in 1970—but not in 1966, the year in which the film’s set. “So it appears Ridley felt comfortable tinkering with both the recipient and timing of Hendrix’s abuse. If anything, this seems like a questionable artistic choice, not a failure of morality.”
Also in the Stranger, Kathy Fennessy looks back on her up-and-down responses to films by Richard Linklater over the past couple of decades.
Update, 6/8: So the festival’s wrapped and Richard Linklater’s Boyhood has won the Golden Space Needle Award for Best Film, Best Director and Best Actress (Patricia Arquette). Here‘s the full list of winners.