Week 3: The fest looks west.

ASIAN-MADE MOVIES are generating unprecedented acclaim at both festivals and multiplexes. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon picked up four Oscars this year; more important from a Hollywood perspective, Ang Lee's martial arts romance has earned over $125 million in U.S. theaters, becoming the top-grossing foreign-language flick in history. What does that mean for SIFF? A lot. Perched on the Pacific Rim, Seattle's an important market for Asian cinema, with a healthy population of filmgoers eager to see new works by directors like Tran Anh Hung (Vertical Ray of the Sun), Kiyoshi Kurosawa (S顮ce), and Benny Chan (Gen-X Cops). Those three titles—among others at SIFF—are poised to move beyond festival niches to mainstream markets, making SIFF something of a bellwether and its June 9 Filmmakers Forum on new Asian cinema especially timely. "I think there's much more interest in the aftermath of Crouching Tiger, Yi-Yi, and various others," says SIFF director Darryl Macdonald of the Asian movie boom. "But I expect that to continue. We want to make the festival even richer and more diverse." The fest's Asian sidebar puts particular emphasis on Thailand, with Tears of the Black Tiger, 6ixtynin9, and Bangkok Dangerous, among other strong entries. (Macdonald estimates some 40 pictures at this year's fest originate from Asia.) Appropriately, the producer of both Nang Nak and 6ixtynin9 will be on hand for the Sunday Filmmakers Forum titled "Dragons on the Doorstep." Tentatively joining him will be Hotoke director Tsuji Jinsei of Japan, a U-Dub academic, and Variety critic Ken Eisner, who's based in Vancouver, B.C.—another town extremely receptive to Asian cinema. Outside Asia, a few of this week's random SIFF picks include Hedwig and the Angry Inch (a must-see that opens here August 3), Sun Alley (also coincidentally concerning East Germany), Southern Comfort, Our Lady of the Assassins, Animal, and See our Web site for other recommendations and updated reviews all during the fest.

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