The Seattle International Film Festival has announced the lineup for its 32nd edition, which will showcase 419 feature length and short films from 60 countries during its 25-day run. The fest will take place May 25-June 18 and includes 19 world premieres, 41 North American and 22 U.S. premieres. Neil Burger's "The Illusionist," starring Ed Norton, Paul Giamatti and Jessica Biel, will open the event. The film is a romantic thriller about a magician named Eisenheim who has the ability to "mesmerize" crowds. Michel Gondry's 2006 Berlinale feature, "The Science of Sleep," about a young man whose waking life and dream life begin to blur after his father's death, will close out the fest in Seattle.
The fest has selected four films to screen for its Weekend Gala Presentations. The 2006 picks include Robert Altman's "Prairie Home Companion"; Peter Chan's "Perhaps Love"; Bent Hamer's "Facotum," which is based on a series of writings by Charles Bukowski and stars Matt Dillon; and Paul Dinello's "Strangers With Candy" about an ex-junkie who returns home after 32 years as a runaway.
This year, SIFF will feature a country spotlight on Denmark, with 14 films slated to screen from the Scandinavian country in recognition of its "resurgnce in extraordinary filmmaking." The fest will also honor Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn as part of its emerging masters segment, and his latest film, "Pusher III: I'm The Angel of Death" will have its U.S premiere at the festival. Other directors that will be honored as emerging masters this year are: Brazil's Andrucha Waddington ("Me, You, Them"); China's Wang Xiaoshuai ("Shanghai Dreams") and the UK's Adam Curtis ("The Rise of The Politics of Fear"), who will be one of the first documentarians honored as an emerging master.
A highlight throughout the festival is the five feature-length films making their world premieres. Joanna Lipper's "Little Fugitive" is about an absent father and overworked mother who leave their two young sons to fend for themselves for 24 hours. "Mom's Apple Pie: The Heart of the Lesbian Mother's Custody Movement" is Jody Laine, Shan Ottey and Shad Reinstein's documentary about the Seattle-based Lesbian Mothers Defense Fund that was founded in the 1970s. Jordan Albertsen's "The Standard" is about a young boy on the eve of his high school graduation, and Kristian St. Clair's documentary "This Is Gary McFarland" explores the life of the jazz musician, composer and arranger. Lastly, Andrew McAllister's "Urban Scarecrow" is about the life of a detached teenager who has been living with his father in a motel off Highway 99 after his mother's death.
"With so many exciting new intiatives and venues in this year's festival, we look forward to further exploring cinema in its many manifestations, including our expanded Face the Music section, which highlights the variety of ways that music and film can intersect," SIFF artistic director Carl Spence in a statement. "SIFF 2006 dares us to open our eyes, to go beyond the barrage of media sound bites, to enter worlds that challenge, enlighten and delight us, and to understand those who don't seem so different from ourselves."
[For more information and a complete line up of the films and special events, please visit the festival website.]