Cinema Sprawl

More titles. More venues. Just plain more. Seattle's annual movie overload is about to begin.

Next year at this time, I'll probably be reporting that the Seattle International Film Festival has taken over the Sonics-free KeyArena. This year, its 32nd, SIFF continues its inexorable expansion as the largest fest in the U.S., with around 264 features and dozens of docs screened over 25 days. Some we've seen, as you'll read in the following pages; others we're picking as winners based on hearsay and blind speculation. The main venues total seven, now including Bellevue's Lincoln Square—which is why I fully expect Bremerton and Tacoma to be annexed next year. SIFF's sprawl will not be contained; today the suburbs, tomorrow the world! (The fest runs Thursday, May 25, through Sunday, June 18.)

Oh, but what about the Thursday, May 25, gala festival opener, you ask? I'd say go see The Illusionist, more for the party afterward than the movie itself (it opens commercially Aug. 18). Any film with Paul Giamatti can't be all bad, and he helps smarten up a fairly obvious, handsome tale of romance and magic, playing a cop in pre–World War I Vienna who's rightfully suspicious of Edward Norton's paranormal trickery. (Too bad he can't make Down in the Valley disappear.)

See you in line.

Seattle International Film Festival

SIFF Ticket Info

Thursday, May 25, through Sunday, June 18.

In the SIFF Spotlight

17 must-see titles, surveyed by our critics.

SW Picks for SIFF

Our 36 sight-blind choices for the festival, not otherwise covered in this guide. In addition to a few repertory titles, inclusion here means (a) the film has great buzz, (b) a trusted colleague has seen it, or (c) it has incredible locations or someone incredibly sexy in it.

Lucky Bounce

How a neophyte Seattle director stumbled into making a surefire, lump-in-your-throat sports documentary. But would you give up seven years of your life for a deal with Miramax?

Local Heroes

We meet some of the local figures and explore area connections at SIFF.

Old Master, Fresh Ears

Radio, theater, movies—there's not much difference to America's great cinematic champion of the human voice.

Britons Behind Bars

Whether innocent or guilty, this arresting post-9/11 docudrama shows, one size of orange-jumpsuit justice fits all.

Mr. Franken Goes to Washington?

A Q&A with the comic turned author turned documentary subject ... and now, possible senator?

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