An alternative to SIFF, whether you want one or not.

It happens in every arena from frankfurter stands to film festivals: Soon as the pioneer gets bigger or more corporate, a new underdog arrives on the scene. Enter the second Seattle's True Independent Film Festival, which purports to offer "offbeat independent film from the Northwest and the rest of the world," under the guidance of festival co-founder Clint Berquist and program director Kevin Gilbert.

More than 50 films of varying lengths will screen at STIFF; most are shorts, including Missing Pages, an effective 24-minute Japanese time-travel film. The artistic, suspenseful drama uses still photography and very little live action to relate its story. From Spain, DVD tracks a film geek and his more high-functioning brother as they struggle with relationships. Among the features, The Hole Story is a manic-depressive comedy about a neurotic's quest to uncover the mystery of a massive hole in a frozen lake in Brainerd, Minn. Unseen but intriguing is the documentary Starbucking, which delves into the psyche of a man who has dedicated his life to visiting all the Starbucks around the world. I also like the sound of Abby Singer, an unscripted reality/documentary–style tale about a tortured casting director; and Simply FOBulous, in which a rebellious Asian- American woman takes a mail-order husband from Vietnam to please her dying mother.

The fest launches at 6:30 p.m., Friday, June 2, at the Rendezvous in Belltown. A program of shorts precedes the feature (at 8:15 p.m.): One Night in Portland, where a secret government agent tries to cover up some funky otherworldly goings-on in Portland. Digital rotoscoping (like Richard Linklater's Waking Life) style and a soundtrack featuring The Feebs and others promise to set the film apart, even if the plot doesn't. The same could be said for all the titles at STIFF— regardless of story, format, or cinematic quality, they're sure to stand out. Proudly.

Seattle's True Independent Film Festival Rendezvous Jewel Box Theater, 2322 Second Ave., 206-441-5823; Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684; and Market Theater, 1428 Post Alley, 206-587-2414. $50 (festival pass), $8 (individual). for full schedule and ticket info. Fri., June 2–Sun., June 4.

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