The 35th Seattle International Film Festival is over. Over the last 25 days, SIFF presented 203 narrative features, 11 archival features, 54 documentary features, and 124 short films from 62 countries, including 31 World Premieres (10 features, 21 shorts), 45 North American Premieres (36 features, 9 shorts), and 13 US Premieres (10 features, 3 shorts).
Whew! While we here at Randomville did see a lot of these films, we did not see all of them, sadly. Actually, maybe that’s a good thing since we were just a two-person team! However, between the two of us, Randomville absorbed over fifty films and plenty of memories to go along with it.
We would graciously like to thank The SIFF for having us back for a second time this year. We loved every minute that we spent and we really hope we had a part in getting people to the festival, donating money to you, and becoming aware of the films.
Paul Giamatti in Cold Souls, one of Randomville’s favorite SIFF films. Photo byÂ Adam Bell, courtesy of Journeyman Pictures/Touchy Feely Films.
Hands-down the best film I saw was Cold Soulswith Paul Giamatti. He plays himself in a silly comedy where humansÂ have the ability toÂ remove their souls and even choose new ones if they want. Giamatti sported so many facial expressions you would have thought he went to Jim Carrey school. Giamatti was a real hoot in person as he did a QnA with the crowd after the viewing.
If you put both Kevin Spacey and Robin Williams in a film together, does it have even a chance to be bad? No, and Shrinkdid not dissapoint as Spacey plays a dope-smoking Hollywood psychiatrist who not only handles every exotic personality that heartless town has to offer, but he also discovers that his life is far from grand as well.
A few documentaries I absolutely loved began with The Yes Men Fix The World, where a couple of good-hearted misfits roam the earth trying to make “evil doers” (large corporations) pay for the moral crimes they commit. The festival wasn’t even over yet and I was hearing all kinds of buzz about Food Inc., the documentary that every big food processor in the country doesn’t want you to see. The chances are very good that you’ll change your eating habits for the better after spending ninety-four minutes with this excellent film. Food Inc. was also the fourth runner up for Best Documentary Golden Space Needle Award. Any fan of indie rock MUST SEE the film All Tomorrow’s Parties, an in-depth look both behind the scenes and from fascinating camera angles (and great sound quality) of the popular British music festival held annually that does things a little different.
The most creative film I saw was My Suicide, the mockumentary about a high school kid who declares he will kill himself on camera for his final school project. Who better to go to for advice than the (now late) great David Carradine, who ironically plays a “Death Poet” in this gem of a movie.
Michael Cera and Charline Yi in Paper Heart, opening in theaters August 7th. Photo provided by the Seattle International Film Festival.
I like to be surprised, and my most-pleasure-for-least-expectation award goes toÂ Paper Heart, a hybrid documentary/docucomedy by comedian Charlyne Yi and director Nicholas Jasenovec. As Yi travels about the country interviewing people about their experiences with love (the documentary), she is herself falling into a sweet and awkward romance with actor Michael Cera (the docucomedy). The film is funny, whimsical and charming. It opens in theaters August 7th. See its website.
I admired Seattle filmmaker Lynn Sheltonâ€™s first two films, but approached Humpday with some anxiety because of its high concept premise: two buddies dare each other to have sex on film as an art project. It could have been awful, but I should have known that in Sheltonâ€™s hands the result would be sublime. Working collaboratively with the two lead actors, who improvised all the dialogue, she has created a detailed, insightful and painfully funny glimpse into the world of male friendship. Humpdayplayed at the Sundance and Cannes film festivals before SIFF, and will open in theaters July 10th. See its website.
One more great comedy:Â Japanese director Hirokazu Koreedaâ€™s Still Walking,Â aboutÂ the very familiar dynamics of a JapaneseÂ family who gently poke and prod each other during an annual gathering in which they are mourning the premature death years earlier of the oldest son. The characters are treated with affectionate humor, both by the director and by each other.Â
Family dynamics are also the subject matter ofÂ Tetro, an Argentinian melodrama from Francis Ford Coppola;Â while I didnâ€™t care as much as I wanted to about the story or characters, I was captivated by the stunning black-and-white cinematography, and that was enough to carry me away. Itâ€™s in theaters now; see its website.
Also set in South America,Â The Maid isÂ a dark comedy from Chile about a woman approaching middle age who realizes theÂ bourgeois family she has spent over half her life serving doesn’t need her as much as she needs them. Itâ€™s an illuminating character study of the kind of person normally ignored or stereotyped in feature films.
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Here is the list of awards that were announced:
SIFF 2009 New Directors Showcase Competition
Grand Jury Prize
The Other Bank, directed by George Ovashvili (Georgia/Kazakhstan, 2009)
Jury Statement: We give our prize to The Other Bank. It is a picaresque narrative with a powerful mise-en-scÃ¨ne and an exceptional skill in addressing a complex post-war situation through a remarkable character incarnated by a 12-year-old nonprofessional.
SIFF 2009 Documentary Competition
Grand Jury Prize
talhotblond, directed by Barbara Schroeder (USA, 2009)
Jury Statement: Because it tells a shocking, true crime story that reveals the Internet’s power to unleash our most dangerous fantasies.
Documentary Competition Special Jury Prize
Manhole Children, directed by Yoshio Harada (Japan, 2008)
Jury Statement: For its emotionally brutal depiction of children surviving underground in Mongolia; the film both repulses and engages at the same time.
SIFF 2009 Short Film Jury Awards
Narrative Grand Jury Prize
Short Term 12, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, USA
Jury Statement: For its raw and honest depiction of life in a teen detention center, which blurs the lines between caretaker and patient, through exceptionally written characters, humorous dialogue, and a captivating sense of immediacy.
Special Jury Prizes
Lowland Fell, directed by Michael Kinirons, Ireland
Next Floor, directed by Denis Villeuneuve, Canada
Animation Grand Jury Prize
Photograph of Jesus, directed by Laurie Hill, United Kingdom
Jury Statement: For answering the public’s ludicrous questions with a playful flair and a firm hand in filmmaking.
Documentary Grand Jury Prize
The Herd, directed by Ken Wardrop, Ireland
Jury Statement: For its unflinching portrayal of interspecies bonding and its celebration of hopping.
WaveMaker Award for Excellence in Youth Filmmaking
A Generation of Consolidation, directed by Samantha Muilenberg
Jury Statement: For its technical precision in depicting motivated youth who exercise more bravery than most adults.
Special Jury Award
If U Want 2 Get Technical, directed by Riaebia Robinson
Jury Statement: for its timely and important subject matter portrayed with exceptional familial intimacy.
FutureWave Shorts Audience Award
A Generation of Consolidation, directed by Samantha Muilenberg
SIFF 2009 Youth Jury Award for Best FutureWave Feature
Youth Jury Award for Best FutureWave Feature
My Suicide, directed by David Lee Miller
Jury Statement: For its ability to bring an issue clouded by controversy bravely into focus for a breadth of audiences through exceptional editing and organic character progression.
Special Jury Award
Sounds Like Teen Spirit, directed by Jamie J. Johnson
Jury Statement: For excellence in capturing the universal experience of young adults discovering their place in the world.
SIFF 2009 Golden Space Needle Audience Awards
Best Film Golden Space Needle Award
Black Dynamite, directed by Scott Sanders (USA, 2009)
First runner up: The Necessities of Life, directed by BenoÃ®t Pilon (Canada, 2008)
Second runner up: (500) Days of Summer, directed by Marc Webb (USA, 2009)
Third runners up (tie): ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction, directed Kevin Hamedani (USA, 2009) and Morris: A Life With Bells On, directed by Lucy Akhurst (United Kingdom, 2008)
Fourth runner up: North Face, directed by Philipp Stolzl (Austria, 2008)
Rounding out the top ten: Marcello Marcello(Denis Rabaglia, Switzerland, 2008); Departures(Yojiro Takita, Japan, 2008); Patrik Age 1.5(Ella Lemhagen, Sweden, 2008); Amreeka(Cherien Dabis, Canada, 2009) Humpday (Lynn Shelton, USA, 2009)
Best Documentary Golden Space Needle Award
The Cove, directed by Louie Psihoyos (USA, 2009)
First runner up: Sweet Crude, directed by Sandy Cioffi (USA, 2008)
Second runner up: William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe, directed by Sarah Kunstler and Emily Kunstler (USA, 2009)
Third runner up: Every Little Step, directed by James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo (USA, 2008)
Fourth runners up (tie): Food, Inc.,directed by Robert Kenner (USA, 2008) and Facing Ali, directed by Pete McCormack (Canada, 2009)
Rounding out the top ten: Gotta Dance (Dori Berinstein, USA, 2008); Afghan Star (Havana Marking, Afghanistan, 2008); Dancing Across Borders (Anne H. Bass, USA, 2009); The Garden (Scott Hamilton, USA, 2008); Icons Among Us(Michael Rivoira, LarsLarson, Peter J. Vogt; USA, 2009)
Best Director Golden Space Needle Award
Kathryn Bigelow, for The Hurt Locker (USA, 2008)
First runner up: Lynn Shelton, for Humpday (USA, 2009)
Second runner up: Kari Skogland for Fifty Dead Men Walking (UK/Canada, 2008)
Third runner up: Spike Lee for Passing Strange (USA, 2009)
Fourth runner up: Marc Webb for (500) Days of Summer (USA, 2009)
Best Actor Golden Space Needle Award
Sam Rockwell for Moon (United Kingdom, 2009)
First runner up: Jim Sturgess for Fifty Dead Men Walking (United Kingdom, 2008)
Second runner up: Natar Ungalaaq for The Necessities of Life (Canada, 2008)
Third runner up: Mark Duplass for Humpday (USA, 2009)
Fourth runner up: Toni Servillo for Il Divo (Italy, 2008)
Best Actress Golden Space Needle Award
Yolande Moreau for SÃ©raphine (France/Belgium, 2008)
First runner up: Catalina Saavedra for The Maid (Chile, 2008)
Second runner up: Trine Dyrholm, for Little Soldier (Denmark, 2009)
Third runner up: Nathalie Press for Fifty Dead Men Walking (UK/Canada, 2008)
Fourth runner up: Iben Hjejle for The Escape (Denmark, 2009)
Best Short Film Golden Space Needle Award
Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death, directed by Nick Park, (UK)
First runner up: Treevenge, directed by Jason Eisener (Canada)
Second runner up: Full Employment, directed by Thomas Oberlies and Matthias Vogel (Germany)
Third runner up: French Roast, directed by Fabrice O. Joubert (France)
Fourth runner up: Make My Day, directed by Pelle MÃ¸ller (Denmark)
Lena Sharpe Award for Persistence of Vision, Presented by Women in Film/Seattle
Sweet Crude, directed by Sandy Cioffi (USA, 2008)