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Seattle International Film Festival 37: Galas, Tributes and Presentations

Seattle International Film Festival 37: Galas, Tributes and Presentations

The 37th Seattle International Film Festival has finalized its galas, tributes and special presentations for its 25-day festival, running May 19 – June 12, among the lengthiest fest programme in the world. SIFF will screen films hailing from 74 countries; 257 features and 184 shorts, 96 of which are premieres.

The fest will open with UK/Kenya co-production The First Grader (National Geographic Entertainment), directed by Justin Chadwick, and will close with Kevin Macdonald’s mesmerizing documentary, Life in a Day (pictured below). The complete list of galas, tributes, premieres, competitions and more is on the jump:

SIFF artistic director Carl Spence says: “There’s something for everyone as audiences will have a wide range of films and events to choose from including evenings with our tribute guests Ewan McGregor, Warren Miller, and Al Pacino as well as our strong line-up of films in competition and a record number of countries which all combine to make this one of the leading international film festivals.”

The Festival begins Thursday, May 19 with the annual Opening Night Gala and a screening of The First Grader (UK/Kenya, National Geographic Entertainment), directed by Justin Chadwick, which tells the remarkable story of an 84-year-old Kenyan villager determined to seize his last chance to get the education he could never afford. The screening is at Seattle Center’s McCaw Hall, with the Opening Night Gala reception at Seattle Center’s Exhibition Hall immediately following the screening.

The Centerpiece Gala will be Saturday, June 4 at the Egyptian Theatre with a screening of Service Entrance (France, Strand Releasing), directed by Philippe Le Gauy (pictured, top) , a comedy about a Parisian stockbroker whose life is turned upside down when an exuberant Spanish maid moves into the servants’ quarters above.  The Centerpiece Gala reception will be held at Seattle’s Daughters of the American Revolution Hall immediately following the screening.

The Festival will conclude on Sunday, June 12 with the Closing Night Gala screening of the groundbreaking documentary Life in a Day (UK, National Geographic Entertainment), directed by Kevin Macdonald, which brilliantly weaves footage submitted by thousands of contributors from around the world to catalog the events of a single day, into a spellbinding mosaic masterpiece. The screening is at the Cinerama Theatre, with the Closing Night Gala reception at the Pan Pacific Hotel immediately following the screening.


SIFF 2011 will also feature plenty of star power, with tributes to honor Ewan McGregor and Warren Miller and a special, one night only event with Al Pacino scheduled.

In recognition of his illustrious career, Ewan McGregor will receive this years’ Golden Space Needle Award for Outstanding Achievement in Acting at a special tribute event featuring a screening of his new film, Beginners (USA), on Sunday, May 22 at the Egyptian Theatre. Special retrospective screenings of Moulin Rouge! and Peter Greenaway’s The Pillow Book, and the Seattle premiere of another of Mr. McGregor’s new films, David Mackenzie’s Perfect Sense, will also be featured at the Festival.

Warren Miller, an industry legend whose name has been synonymous with action sports films for over 60 years, will be honored with the Festival’s Golden Space Needle for Lifetime Achievement on Wednesday, June 8 at Benaroya Hall.

In conjunction with the Seattle Theatre Group, SIFF will also welcome one of cinema’s most riveting stars, Al Pacino, for a special, one night only, event to discuss his passion for acting and directing, up close and personal, at the Paramount Theatre on Saturday, June 11.

Feature Premieres

World Premieres: A Lot Like You (USA), August (USA), Do You See Colors When You Close Your Eyes? (USA), Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians (USA), Lys (Germany), Sushi: The Global Catch (USA), The Darkest Matter (USA)

North America Premieres: Above Us Only Sky (Germany), Absent (Argentina), Almanya (Germany), Angel of Evil (Italy), Backyard (Iceland), Bicycle, Spoon, Apple (Spain), Blinding (Canada), Bruce Lee, My Brother (Hong Kong), Every Song is About Me (Spain), Flying Fish (Sri Lanka), Heading West (Netherlands), Johan Primero (Netherlands), Killing Bono (UK), King of Devil’s Island (Norway), The Mountain (Norway), Nobody (Greece), Our Home (Brazil), Qarantina (Iraq), Red Eagle (Thailand), Revenge: A Love Story (Hong Kong), Rosario (Philippines), Sevdah for Karim (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Spud (South Africa), Third Star (UK), A Thousand Fools (Spain), Yellow Sea (South Korea)

U.S. Premieres: The Cashier Who Liked Gambling (Italy), Ex (Hong Kong), Fathers & Sons (Canada), Finisterrae (Spain), Funkytown (Canada, Quebec), The Intruder (Thailand), Late Autumn (South Korea), Norwegian Wood (Japan), Oliver Sherman (Canada), Por El Camino (Brazil), Princess (Finland), Rene Goes To Hollywood (Georgia), Red Eyes (Chile), Silent Sonata (Slovenia), Snow White (France), A Thousand Times Stronger (Sweden), Trigger (Canada), The Whisperer in Darkness (USA), We Are the Night (Germany)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Presents Asian Crossroads

New this year to SIFF, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents Asian Crossroads, which will spotlight 13 films highlighting a dazzling variety of exciting, hilarious and profound films emerging from Southeast Asia. The new program kicks-off with Saigon Electric (Dir. Stephane Gauger, Vietnam) on Saturday, May 28 at the Neptune Theatre followed by a celebratory party. Additional films include: The Bengali Detective (Dir. Phil Cox, India); Bi, Don’t Be Afraid! (Dir. Phan Dang Di, Vietnam); Donor (Dir. Mark Afable Meily, Philippines); The Empire of Mid-South (Dir. Jacques Perrin, Eric Deroo, France); Eternity (Dir. Sivaroj Kongsakul, Thailand); Flying Fish (Dir. Sanjeewa Pushpakumara, Sri Lanka); Gandu (Dir. Q [Kaushik Mukherjee], India); Pinoy Sunday (Dir. Wi Ding Ho, Taiwan); Red Eagle (Dir. Wisit Sasanatieng, Thailand); Rosario (Dir. Alberto Martinez, Philippines); Sandcastle (Dir. Boo Junfeng, Singapore); and Touch (Dir. Minh Duc Nguyen, USA).

Special Presentations & Parties

This year’s Festival will feature 5 special presentation screenings: The Importance of Being Earnest (Dir. Brian Bedford, United Kingdom); Mysteries of Lisbon (Dir. Raul Ruiz       , Portugal); Norwegian Wood (Dir. Tran Anh Hung, Japan); Tornado Alley (Dir. Sean Casey, USA); and The White Meadows (Dir. Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran). Two additional films will be presented with after-parties. The New American Cinema Party will feature a screening of The Future (Dir. Miranda July, USA) on May 21 at the Pacific Place Cinemas. The Gay-la party will feature a screening of August (Dir. Eldar Rapaport, USA) on Thursday, June 9 at the Egyptian Theatre. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (Dir. Jay Roach, USA), which had its US debut as the closing night film of SIFF in 1999 will be shown as a free outdoor evening screening at Juanita Beach Park on Saturday, May 28.

Competitions & Awards

New Directors Competition: Festival programmers select 10 films remarkable for their original concept, striking style and overall excellence. To be eligible films must be a director’s first or second feature and without U.S. distribution at the time of their selection.

2011 Entrees: Absent (Dir. Marco Berger, Argentina); Almanya (Dir. Yasemin Samdereli, Germany); Artificial Paradises (Dir. Yulene Olaizola, Mexico); Belle Epine (Dir. Rebecca Zlotowski, France); Cairo 678 (Dir. Mohamed Diab, Egypt); Every Song is About Me (Dir. Jonas Trueba, Spain); Flying Fish (Dir. Sanjeewa Pushpakumara, Sri Lanka); Gandu (Dir. Q [Kaushik Mukherjee], India); The Most Important Thing in Life is Not Being Dead (Dirs. Olivier Pictel, Pablo Martin Torrado, Mark Recuenco, Switzerland); Por El Camino (Dir. Charly Braun, Brazil)

Documentary Competition: Unscripted and uncut, the world is a resource of unexpected, informative, and altogether exciting storytelling. Documentary filmmakers have, for years, brought these untold stories to life and introduced us to a vast number of fascinating topics we may have never known existed—let alone known were so fascinating. Ten films will compete for the Grand Jury Prize.

2011 Entrees: An African Election (Dir. Jarreth Merz, Ghana); Bicycle, Spoon, Apple (Dir. Carles Bosch, Spain); The Green Wave (Dir. Ali Samadi Ahadi, Germany); Hot Coffee (Dir. Susan Saladoff, USA); Marathon Boy (Dir. Gemma Atwal, India); PressPausePlay (Dir. David Dworsky, Victor Köhler, Sweden); Red Eyes (Dir. Juan Pablo Sallato, Ismael Larrain, Juan Ignacio Sabatini, Chile); Rothstein’s First Assignment (Dir. Richard Knox Robinson, USA); Sushi: The Global Catch (Dir. Mark Hall, USA); To Be Heard (Dir. Amy Sultan, Roland Legiardi-Laura, Deborah Shaffer, Edwin Martinez, USA)

FIPRESCI Jury Award: Selected by the International Federation of Film Critics from 10 films from the New American Cinema section.

2011 Entrees: August (Dir. Eldar Rapaport, USA), Black, White and Blues (Dir. Mario Van Peebles, USA), Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same (Dir. Madeleine Olnek, USA), Gun Hill Road (Dir. Rashaad Ernesto Green, USA), Jess + Moss (Dir. Clay Jeter, USA), Letters From the Big Man (Dir. Christopher Munch, USA), Love (Dir. William Eubank, USA), Natural Selection (Dir. Robbie Pickering, USA), On the Ice (Dir. Andrew Okpeaha MacLean, USA), Roadie (Dir. Michael Cuesta, USA)

Golden Space Needle Awards: Given in five categories (Best Film, Best Documentary, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Short Film) as voted by festival audiences. Awards are presented on Sunday, June 12 at the Space Needle.

SIFF Shorts Competition: All short films shown (including 44 premieres) at the Festival are eligible for both the Golden Space Needle Audience Award and Jury Awards. Shorts Competition jurors will choose winners in the Narrative, Animation, and Documentary categories. Jury award winners will be qualified to enter their respective short film category to the Academy Awards.

WaveMaker Award for Excellence in Youth Filmmaking: Sponsored in part by Adobe Youth Voices and presented to one filmmaker, 18 years old or younger, from the FutureWave program, whose talents celebrate the creative possibilities of film.  All FutureWave films shown at the Festival are eligible for the award.


New to this years’ Festival, SIFF has developed ten Pathways to help moviegoers find the film and experience that suites their moods. Instead of using traditional categories, SIFF Pathways easily connect the audience with films by organizing them into areas that help answer the question “what sort of film do I feel like seeing tonight?”

2011 Festival Pathways:
Love Me, Do! – Romance and love in all its forms, pleasures, and idiosyncrasies.
Make Me Laugh – Films that make you chuckle and tickle your funny bone.
Thrill Me – Suspense, thrills, and action. Films with a faster pace that might also surprise you when you least expect it.
Creative Streak – The exploration of artistic endeavors from all disciplines: literature, film, art, dance, and performance.
Open My Eyes – Revealing films and documentaries revolving around history, politics, and contemporary events from around the world.
Sci-Fi and Beyond – Science, technology, environment, the future—and beyond.
Take Me Away – Be prepared to be taken to another place – from exotic far-off lands to vibrant experiences outside of everyday life.
Spellbinding Stories – Mesmerizing dramas and documentaries that explore thought-provoking questions, realities, and topics.
To the Extreme – Explore the outer limits with films that go beyond the edge.
Face the Music – Films that intersect the world of music on all fronts: from biopics and concert films, to musicals and live events.

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