GRILLING THE DIRECTOR is a tradition at SIFF. People wait eagerly after each movie to interrogate its maker (when he or she is present). Some auteurs swagger to the mike with practiced stage presence; others are as meek as software geeks at a karaoke bar. The curious thing is how audience members seem emboldened or abashed, aggressive or retiring, depending on the film they've just seen. In general, moviegoers revert to high school classroom behavior during the Q&A sessions; only the brave—the dweebs?—dare raise their hands to ask a question. (The rest, the cool, may snicker, but stay to listen.) You can feel the wincing of savvy SIFF-goers with the utterance of the inevitable "What's it like to work with . . . ?" query. Yet politeness rules, as always, in Seattle; even the kooks seem to be on their best behavior. In response, directors can be unguarded in ways they might not be at industry-skewed fests like Sundance and Cannes. Staggering off a marathon flight, Mathieu Kassovitz used questions about his adroit thriller The Crimson Rivers to assail the entire French New Wave. "They keep doing this recipe for almost 40 years, and we're getting tired of it," he complained, dismissing stodgy old formulas of "two people in a room talking about whatever." By contrast, he promised that new-school Gallic movies "won't be done by the same kind of rules." (Then, surprisingly, he cited Spielberg as a primary influence.) Considerably less vitriolic after his The Business of Strangers, Patrick Stettner revealed that SIFF had used an excerpt of his student film in its official trailer (the one with the big eye). "No one from the festival asked me," he laughed. Incredibly, this is SIFF's final weekend, so here are your assignments: Mortal Transfer, Joint Security Area, I Love Beijing, Battle Royale, and Tears of the Black Tiger. And check out those Tarantino Tutorials if you can get tickets; maybe Q.T. will answer your question. firstname.lastname@example.org
Beat Kitano teaches lethal lessons in Battle Royale.