Damn you, George Lucas! Damn you to hell! Among the peculiarities of the 31st Seattle International Film Festival is that Paul Allen can't lend it the Cinerama this year because of a certain obligation to the Sith, who are apparently demanding their revenge or something. Well, maybe we're better off without those dark knights. Bigger than ever—groan—with some 347 titles and spanning 25 days, SIFF is adding Lower Queen Anne's Uptown and the U District's Neptune to its main roster of theaters, which also includes Capitol Hill's Harvard Exit, Egyptian, and Broadway Performance Hall.
More newsworthy is that the festival-opening indie, Miranda July's Me and You and Everyone We Know (Thursday, May 19, at the Paramount), is a good movie, well worth the $50, which also includes the nearby after-party. A gallery of blue-collar neighborhood eccentrics striving for connection with one another, it's the astringent opposite of last year's saccharine The Notebook. Former Portland performance artist July will introduce her debut feature (in theaters July 1), adding more reason to attend the gala event. She plays a struggling artist who becomes mildly obsessed with a good-karma-spouting shoe salesman, but Me and You isn't off-puttingly artsy. It's both dreamy and accessible, comical and philosophical, in a warmly offhand and affirmative way. And July's writing makes equals of children, instead of treating them like the sexless little symbols of innocence they're not.
We'll have a selective overview in next week's festival guide. As usual, SIFF offers a smorgasbord of oddly named programs and competitions. Countries represented range from Argentina (which gets a special SIFF tribute) to Turkey. Hometown talent also receives its due, including a satellite series at Northwest Film Forum devoted to fringier fare. There will be some visiting celebs, including Peter Sarsgaard (The Dying Gaul), Joan Allen (Yes), and Portland's Gus Van Sant, fresh from Cannes, where his thinly veiled Kurt Cobain movie, Last Days, will have its world premiere—followed by its U.S. premiere to conclude SIFF.
In short, for the dedicated SIFF-goer, it'll be possible to avoid the Sith for at least four weeks. See you in line.
The Seattle International Film Festival runs Thurs., May 19–Sun., June 12. Visit www.seattlefilm.org for schedule, tickets, and details. Call 206-324-9997 for info and 206-324-9996 for tickets. In-person advance tickets: Pacific Place and Broadway Performance Hall (11 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat.; noon–6 p.m. Sun.). Same-day tickets: Individual venues open 30 minutes before first show.