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European-American Topics - Cinema - SIFF 2007

Read what two of European Weekly's contributors have to say about this year's Seattle International Film Festival.
Posted May 30, 2007

SIFF 2007 - Always more!
By Caroline Planque

    For those of you who struggled last year to choose between movies or simply to make it to your next screening on the other side of town, SIFF 2007 promises to make it even harder: try to juggle 405 films over 25 days in 7 different main venues in Seattle and Bellevue and you will find yourself wishing that some computer geek had invented a program to optimize your screening options based on your preferences. And that’s not even taking into account the festival forums and panels. But no, this year again, you will have to do it yourself!  

    Once again this year, SIFF cuts a sweet deal to European movies with a country spotlight on Germany and no less than 28 features in French (the highest representation of non-English language films). 

    Among the French highlights: Olivier Dahan’s second feature film, La Vie en Rose, a moving recollection of Edith Piaf’s life from Paris’ gutters to New York’s skyscrapers (Dahan will attend the festival); Pascale Ferran ‘s Lady Chatterley, which won several Césars earlier this year among which best film and best actress; and Guillaume Canet’s Tell No One, which won the Cesars for best director and best actor (François Cluzet). A few other runner-ups include The Singer, where Depardieu shows once again his incredible acting talent as an old-fashion “musette” singer in search of a new inspiration in life; Paris, Je t’aime, an unequal series of shorts by 18 different directors, centered around the theme of love in the city of lights, and Fair Play, a surprising character study of a handful of co-workers bringing out the competitive nature of office politics during sporting activities. Much awaited but somehow disappointing is Julie Delpy’s 2 Days in Paris about the culture clash between a US-based young French woman spending two days at home in France with her non-French speaking American boyfriend. The characters are pushed to the extreme and become a parody of themselves.  

    Other interesting screenings include Emanuele Crialese’s Golden Door, the story of an immigrant Italian family en route to Ellis Island with Charlotte Gainsbourg in the role of an English Lady also trying to make her way in the United States; Volker Schloendorff ‘s Strike and the Spanish documentary Invisibles featuring the shorts of Wim Wenders and Isabelle Coixet among others. German Actor Daniel Bruehl (The Educators) is back with two features: A friend of Mine by Sebastian Schipper (from Germany) and Salvador by Manuel Huerga (from Spain). 

    Once again SIFF 2007 promises to show more than meets the eye. So don’t lose time, open the catalogue and get your homework done!


SIFF's sweeping Seattle
By Noelle Rivera

 The Seattle International Film Festival is in its 33rd year featuring over 600 screenings with 405 films, all shown in solely 25 days. Being the largest film festival in the United States, Seattle spotlights masterpieces from around the globe. From France to Finland, numerous European countries are featured in the festival.

            Germany is making an enormous imprint on this year’s festival with a total of 26 films and a number of award winners. Running on Empty is making its feature debut in a black comedy about an insurance salesman who cruises the Autobahn accompanied only by a payphone and the occasional unsuspecting customer, until a striking motel clerk travels into his path. Director Bülent Akinci is scheduled to attend both screenings. Other US premiers include The Cloud by Gregor Schnitzler, Vacation directed by Thomas Arslan, Yella directed by Christian Petzold and Hounds directed by Ann-Kristin Reyels, the winner of the FIPRESCI award at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. Chris Kraus’ film Four Minutes was also victorious taking Best Feature at the Shanghai International Film festival. The movie revolves around two women whose lives are shaped by their violent pasts, but discover love and comfort within one another. German short film selections include Motodrom, a nine-minute film on speed and stunts and In the Field, a story of three thirteen year old boys who think they know everything about girls until one actually passes by.

            Representing France, multi-talented Julie Delpy—screenwriter, director, editor, music composer and cast mate of 2 Days in Paris—will be featured at the 2007 Gala Selections. Delpy’s film encompasses a clash of cultures as Marion and her American boyfriend Jack face volatile in-laws and ex-boyfriends that test the strength of their relationship. In addition to the Saturday Galas, SIFF is hosting a ‘Gay-la’ event where the film Poltergay, directed by Eric Lavaine, is making it’s US debut. Best described as poltergeist meets Saturday night fever—the film tells the story of a couple who purchase a mansion that is haunted by disco dancing homosexuals. Musicals are also a big hit in the festival. La Vie en Rose by Olivier Dahan is a salute to Edith Piaf, one of France’s most beloved singers whose music reflected her tragic life and heart-breaking voice.

            The Seattle International Film Festival proves fun for the entire family. Janis Cimermanis from Denmark showcases her stop-motion animated version of The Three Musketeers. With the packed action and adventure, the show will be sure to please all ages. Ghosts of Cité Soleil, also from Denmark, is a documentary on the most dangerous place in the world according to the United Nations. Director Asger Leth takes an honest look at the gangster, doped up, nothing-to-lose thugs in Haiti’s ultra-violent slum.

            Avant-garde, contrary to postmodernism, explores the limitless boundaries of material and medium. From the Netherlands, 4 Elements is a visual essay of the uneasy relationship with fire, water, earth and air through the experiences of firefighters in Siberia, fisherman in Alaska, German mine workers, and Russian cosmonauts. Director Jiska Rickels takes an honest look at the battles of human labor.

            This year's SIFF is showcasing 12 archival presentations including film noir, silent wonders and adventuresome classics from 1919 to 1955. A Cottage on Dartmoor tells the fatal story of the relationship between a barber and a manicurist that turns deadly when something else enters their world. Originally completed as a silent film and later renovated for the sound era, the film was featured in the UK in 1929.

            From features to documentaries, musicals to silent wonders, films from all across Europe are being praised in Seattle. Being the largest film festival in the United States, with over 400 films, there is something to please even the most abrasive critic. The Seattle International Film Festival runs through June 17, come be a part of history.


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