A SIFFtacular Wrap-Up to SIFF 2012

With the Volunteer Appreciation Night having occurred two weeks ago, right after the soda machines stopped working (they’re working now), the 2012 edition of the Seattle International Film Festival is at a close.  Last year, I saw 18 films and continued to write about the festival until the following year.  This year, I saw 20 films and will end my SIFF-related posts with this one.

So then, here are the films I saw during this year’s festival, along with when they played and what rating I gave them (5 is awesome, 1 is horribly, horribly bad).

  1. Eden (press screening); W, 5/9 10:00 am; Uptown 2; 4*
  2. Trishna; Su, 5/20 3:30 pm; Uptown 1; 3
  3. Goodbye; M, 5/21 6:30 pm; Pacific Place 11; 5
  4. How to Survive a Plague; — 9:00 pm;  —  ; 5
  5. Sacrifice; Tu, 5/22 4:00 pm; Harvard Exit; 2
  6. Tatsumi;  — 7:00 pm;   —   ; 3
  7. God Bless America; —  9:30 pm; Uptown 1; 4
  8. Sleepwalk With Me; W, 5/23 9:00 pm; Uptown 2; 4
  9. Superclásico; Th, 5/24 4:00 pm; Egyptian; 4
  10. As Luck Would Have It; Sa, 5/26 6:30 pm; Uptown 1; 3
  11. Charles Bradley: Soul of America; Tu, 5/29 6:30 pm; Harvard Exit; 4
  12. The Revolutionary; Th, 5/31 4:30 pm; Pacific Place 11; 4
  13. 170 Hz (NA Premiere);   —  9:00 pm;   —   ; 5
  14. Sunny; Sa, 6/2 11:30 am; Egyptian; 4
  15. Romancing in Thin Air; M, 6/4 4:00 pm; Egyptian; 4
  16. Rent-a-Cat;  —  9:30 pm;   —  ; 3
  17. Innocence; F, 6/8 4:00 pm; Harvard Exit; 3
  18. Wuthering Heights;   —  ; 6:30 pm; Harvard Exit Upstairs; 3
  19. A Checkout Girl’s Big Adventures; Sa, 6/9 12:30 pm; Uptown 1; 4
  20. Nosilatiaj: Beauty; Su, 6/10 11:00 am; Harvard Exit Upstairs; 4*
* These are the numbers I would have given these films, but press screenings and movies on the last day of the festival aren't voted on.

Last year, I tried to be tough on films; this year, I was a bit too lenient.  For me, a 3 meant the film was neither good nor bad, while a 4 was good to great, and a 5 was outstanding.  Still, I feel I should have given some films (like Sunny and A Checkout Girl’s Big Adventures) a 3 instead of a 4, and in rarer instances, a 3 should have been given a 2.  But, the rankings above were my immediate judgments after the film, so I shall let them stand.

As for the films I didn’t get to see (but wanted to):

  1. 11 Flowers
  2. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
  3. Alois Nebel
  4. Any Day Now
  5. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  6. Brave
  7. The Chase
  8. Dreams of a Life
  9. The Empty Home
  10. Fat Kid Rules the World
  11. Finding North
  12. Fuck My Wedding
  13. I Wish
  14. The Intouchables
  15. The Invisible War
  16. Keyhole
  17. Kiss Me
  18. Little Toys**
  19. Lola Versus
  20. Long Night’s Journey Into Hell (shorts)
  21. Moonrise Kingdom
  22. Putin’s Kiss
  23. Robot and Frank
  24. Rose
  25. Safety Not Guaranteed
  26. Simon and the Oaks
  27. Take This Waltz
  28. Volcano
  29. Your Sister’s Sister
**An old and very rare leftist film from China.

Some of the films above I hope to see post-festival (I’ve already seen I Wish, which is excellent).  Others I’ll have to grab on DVD, or not at all.  The list, initially, was longer by one or two titles, but audience reaction and further investigation led me to leave those films off the list.

Now then, since this was the first time I worked as paid staff as the festival, rather than as a volunteer, my experience was different this year from past years; busier (at concessions), but also more rewarding (tips).  In addition, though I talked to my seatmates at past festivals (especially when I would pull out my notebook–always a great conversation starter at a movie), I found that the passholders talked to me more this year, for I was now one of them.  And when they saw that I was staff….  Plus, I got invited to events and films that I would have had to pay for in years past, such as the parties and the tributes.  I also felt that, by the end, I started to know the other seasonal staff that I was working with better than I had as a volunteer.  I also talked to the volunteers, since they had to come to us for their free popcorn and soda, but it was the venue managers and house coordinators that I saw and worked with every day.  By the end of the festival, even some of the people in the office knew my name.

So, after screening 454 films from 65 countries, with the help of 800+ volunteers, here are the winners of the Golden Space Needle and related awards: http://www.siff.net/festival/film/programdetail.aspx?FID=254&PID=442

And now, here are my awards, for achievements of my own making:

Most uplifting film: Charles Bradley: Soul of America

Most shocking film: Tatsumi

Funniest film: Sleepwalk with Me

Best use of comedic violence: God Bless America

Strangest use of comedic violence/Best use of 80s pop songs: Sunny

Worst use of a song: Wuthering Heights

Cutest film: Rent-A-Cat

Longest movie with the smallest pay-off: Sacrifice

Most mediocre adaptation of a British novel: Trishna (based on Tess of the D’Urbervilles) and Wuthering Heights (tie)

Most awkward narrative lurch: Innocence

Most interesting documentary subject: Sidney Rittenberg, The Revolutionary

Best sex scene: bathtub sex between the maid and the husband, Superclásico

Best cinematography: 170 Hz

Best dialogue: God Bless America

Best screenplay: Goodbye

And now, my picks for Golden Space Needle Awards:

Best actor: Michael Muller, 170 Hz

Best actress: Gaite Jansen, 170 Hz

Best director: Mohammad Rasoulof, Goodbye

Best documentary: How to Survive a Plague

And finally….

Best film: How to Survive a Plague

Until next year!