Apr 30, 2015

Preview: Lots of Choices for Classic Film Fans at Seattle International Film Festival 2015

The Seattle International Film Festival announced its 2015 line-up today, and it is going to be a fantastic year for classic film fans. SIFF has long offered a bold and fascinating program of archival movies, but as I enter my third year of covering the festival, now in its 41st year, I have never been more giddy about the selections.

There will be a whopping 19 archival films at the festival. This will probably be more than I will be able to attend, but the selections are so amazing that it will be tough to miss anything. Among the highlights:

Celebrating 25 years: Martin Scorsese's The Film Foundation

I was most excited to hear that SIFF will be celebrating Martin Scorsese's The Film Foundation's quarter century by presenting eight movies at the festival. Four more films will be presented at Trader Joe's Silent Movie Mondays, which is a beloved Seattle tradition at the Paramount.

I'll have more details to share about when and where these films will be shown, but just look at this list, copied directly from SIFF press materials (note there's only seven titles in the SIFF section, I haven't determined yet if one is missing, or there are actually not eight films). It's an inspired mix of countries, time periods and genres (of course I'm thrilled to see a Mary Pickford movie in there):

Festival Selections--

Alyam, Alyam, d: Ahmed El Maanouni (Morocco 1978)
Black Girl, d: Ousmane Sembène (Senegal 1966) 
Caught, d: Max Ophüls (USA 1949) 
The Color of the Pomegranates, d: Sergei Parajanov (Armenia 1969) 
The Dark Mirror, d: Robert Siodmak (USA 1946) 
Rebel Without a Cause, d: Nicholas Ray (USA 1955) 
The Red Shoes, d: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger (United Kingdom, 1948) 

The Silents (Paramount)--

The Mark of Zorro, d: Fred Niblo (USA, 1920)
My Best Girl, d: Sam Taylor (USA, 1927); 
The Unholy Three, d: Tod Browning (USA, 1925) 
Snow White, d: J. Searle Dawley (USA, 1916).

I'm sure it will be particularly stunning to see the vibrant colors of The Red Shoes on the big screen. 

The Apu Trilogy

I was very young when I first saw Indian director Satyajit Ray's famous trilogy, and I don't think I fully appreciated what it had to offer. It centers on Bengali villager Apu, following him from childhood to fatherhood. I'm looking forward to seeing Song of the Little Road/Pather Panchali (1955), The Unvanquished/Aparajito (1957) and The World of Apu (1959) in a theater, where I can become fully immersed in the story.

Son of the Sheik

The Alloy Orchestra, which specializes in accompanying films, will be performing live with this 1926 film. I've always thought this Valentino flick was underrated and much more entertaining than The Sheik (1921). Early TCM Classic Film Festival attendees may remember the group's performance for a screening of Metropolis (1927) at the 2010 fest.

Spider Woman Double Feature

This program is sure to offer some interesting contrasts. The celebrated pianist Donald Sosin (who I enjoyed hearing at two SIFF 2014 presentations) will accompany Cave of the Spider Woman (1927). Then the Shaw Brothers version of the story, The Cave of Silken Web (1967) will be screened. How often do you see a double feature with a time gap like that?

A Tribute to Stewart Stern: Rebel Without a Cause Live Screenplay Reading

Seattle screenwriter and educator Stewart Stern passed on in 2014. He was a well-respected and generous member of the arts community. Giving his most famous screenplay the spotlight is a fitting tribute. The presentation also includes a screening of the film.

Saved From the Flames - A Trip to the Moon and Other Trips Through Time and Space 

I have been a fan of Serge Bromberg ever since his Lobster Films led the ten-year restoration effort to save George Melies' A Trip to the Moon (1902). Since then, I've learned how much more he has done to preserve early film and make it available to the masses. I'm thrilled to have to chance to see him present this program at the festival. 

The Astrologer

For the past year, this supposedly insane 1975 film has always seemed to pop up in festivalgoer favorites lists. I'm going crazy with curiosity. Even the trailer is wild:

Now I finally get to see what all the fuss is about.

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