This past week, one of the events that I wait for all year finally began! The Seattle International Film Festival opened its latest since the first festival in 1976.
Not many people know this, but SIFF is actually the biggest film-focused festival in all the world. This faire runs longer than any other festival – from May 20th to June 13th – and shows more films than many other (more well-known) fests the world over.
Primarily supported through film-loving volunteers (like myself!), SIFF is a wonderful way to dive into international culture and independent filmmaking.
Prefer glitz and glamour? SIFF provides the goods there, too. Attend one of the events hosted throughout the run of the festival, like the Centerpiece Gala, the Closing Night Gala or the Tribute to Edward Norton.
The Centerpiece Gala takes place on May 29th, and features a film called Farewell. Tickets for the whole night are $25 for non-SIFF members, and include entrance to the film, followed by a party at the DAR Hall on Capitol Hill. I volunteered at the party last year, and things were crazy until the wee hours of the morning. Absolutely everyone (even us lowly volunteers) had an amazing time.
The Tribute to Edward Norton is on June 4th, and features his latest film, Leaves of Grass, followed by an on-stage interview that includes clips from his body of work. There are also tickets available for the “pre-Tribute” which is a more intimate event, and Ed will be there as the guest of honor! As a continuation of the honoring of Mr. Norton, there will be special late-night screenings of three of his best films (25th Hour, Fight Club, and American History X).
The Closing Night Gala takes place on June 13th and features Get Low. Tickets include a couple of drinks, entrance to the film and entrance to the fabulous party at the Pan Pacific Hotel. Aside from the awesome location, the Gala will have food from Seastar and Long Provincial.
As a volunteer, you get vouchers for the hours you’ve worked. It’s a wonderful way to experience the festival for free, and give back to (what I believe) is an important cause. The vouchers are good for an entire year, too. So, if you can’t make it to SIFF this time around, you can still see movies at SIFF Cinema for free. There are shifts available, so if you’d like to volunteer (and you SHOULD), get all the information here.
Trust me when I say that SIFF is something you don’t want to miss. Even if you only make it out to one movie, it will be worth it. I’ve seen films I’d never have a chance to see elsewhere – movies from countries all over the world – from Bolivia to Uruguay. Movies that have big stars like Bill Murray and Robert Duvall, and movies that star people you’ve never heard of from countries you didn’t know existed.
Any way you slice it, the festival is an opportunity to expand your horizons and dip your toe into the fantastic world of film.