May 5, 2018

The 44th Annual Seattle International Film Festival: Selections for Classic Film Fans

The 44th Seattle International Film Festival is coming up fast! I am looking forward to covering SIFF with a focus on the interests of fans of classic film for a sixth year. From May 17 to June 10 I will be in cinematic heaven as I explore the especially fascinating offerings on the program this year.

While the archival offerings are a bit thin as far as older films go, overall the festival has a lot of interesting options for classic movie fanatics. I will report on several of these titles throughout the month of the festival:

Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day (1972)
Saturday, 5/19, 10:00AM, SIFF Film Center 

One of the most fascinating selections on the SIFF schedule, this 478 minute television series directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder will screen with two intermissions. For those who are not up for a lengthy marathon, the show will also screen each Wednesday of the festival.

With a an especially upbeat tone for Fassbinder, this series explores the life and community of a toolmaker in postwar Germany. Beloved in Europe upon its initial run, it has not been readily available to American audiences in the years since its broadcast. I’ve been hearing good things about this one. As crazy as it may sound, it may be best experienced as a marathon.

That Summer (2017)
Monday, 5/20, 9:00PM, Ark Lodge Cinemas
Tuesday, 5/29, 6:30PM, SIFF Cinema Uptown

New facets of the story Beales of Grey Gardens, the mother and sister who were made famous in a 1975 documentary filmed by Albert and David Maysles, can be seen in this new film that documents the lives of the famous and the Beales in the Hamptons in the summer of 1972. I’m eagerly anticipating this new perspective on the lives of these endlessly compelling women, with input from the likes of Andy Warhol and Lee Radziwill.

Belle de Jour (1967)

Monday, 5/28, 6:30, SIFF Cinema Uptown 

Catherine Deneuve is placidly dissatisfied as a bored housewife who turns to sex work for afternoon entertainment. Director Luis Bunuel uncovers an exciting and dangerous fantasy world in this French classic. I’m looking forward to finally seeing this on the big screen.

Being There (1979)
Saturday, 6/2, Noon, SIFF Cinema Uptown 

This Hal Ashby film is one of the director’s best and also features top performances from Peter Sellars, Shirley MacLaine, and Melvyn Douglas (in an Oscar-winning role). It’s a timely exploration of how people see what they want to see and give power to those who they think will keep them safe in their beliefs.

Found Footage Festival: Cherished Gems (2018)
Wednesday, 6/6, 9:15 PM, SIFF Cinema Egyptian 

VHS collectors Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher share unusual videos from their extensive tape collection. The pair will comment on clips from bizarre commercials, training videos and the like in what sounds like a wild live show.

Sansho the Bailiff (1954) 
5/20, SIFF Cinema Uptown, 2:00 PM 

I’ve never heard of this medieval-set tale directed by Kenji Mizoguchi, and am looking forward to seeing it for the first time in a new restoration.

The Changeling (1980)
6/5, 6:30 PM, SIFF Cinema Uptown

This gothic horror classic will be of special interest to locals in the audience, because it features several location shots in Seattle. Can’t quite wrap my mind around the fact that George C. Scott plays a UW professor though. A new 4K restoration of the film will be screened.

Le Crime de Monsieur Lange (1936) 
6/3, 2:00 PM, SIFF Cinema Uptown 

I am excited to finally have a chance to see this lesser-known title in the filmography of one of my favorite directors, Jean Renoir. It is a story of corruption and worker uprising in the world of pulp book publishing made early in the director’s career.

Godard Mon Amour (2017) 
Sunday, 5/20, 7:00 PM, AMC Pacific Place
Tuesday, 5/22, 9:00 PM, Majestic Bay

The early reviews are mixed of this biopic of Jean-Luc Godard directed by Michael Hazanavicius (The Artist [2011]), but I am curious to see it because it features his relationship with first wife Anne Wiazemsky, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Hazanavicius.

Hal (2018)
Friday, 6/1, 6:00 PM, SIFF Cinema Uptown
Sunday, 6/3, 12:30 PM, SIFF Cinema Uptown

I’m delighted to see this documentary about Hal Ashby on the schedule, because while many of his films are celebrated, he’s never been fully given his due as a successful and influential director. I mean Harold and Maude, The Last Detail, Coming Home, and Being There? That’s a varied and adventurous filmography and I’m looking forward to learning more about the man behind these films.

L’Inferno (1911)
Thursday, 5/31, 7:30PM, The Triple Door

The silent movie screenings with live musical accompaniment at the Triple Door are always a highlight of SIFF, but this year’s selection is especially intriguing. Seattle band My Goodness will be playing with this Italian drama inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy. The elaborately conceived production features pioneering Méliès-flavored special effects.


  1. I think you'll really like Sansho the Bailiff. It is one of my favourite Japanese films!

  2. That's good to know Terry. I think I have heard of it before, but I don't know anything about it.