The 2018 Seattle International Film Festival is less than a week away and wither 400 films from around the world and 246 features, it can be quite daunting to take it all in, especially for anyone’s first go at the festival. That’s why we made a handy dandy guide to help navigate the festival in terms of not only the films you should be on the lookout for, but also periphery elements that will help with the overall experience. There are a slew of films you can see at the festival before they are commercially released, but these tips will help organize your trip, get involved, and save you some time and money in the process.
The Seattle International Film Festival lasts for an eye popping 25 days and as students, it can often conflict with deadlines. It takes place during the last few weeks of the quarter and through finals week so if you’re not careful, it’ll be easy to buy tickets early, only to realize you can’t go.
What I recommend is pull out all your syllabuses for your classes and plot out the deadlines for the rest of the quarter. Then go to SIFF’s website, make an account, and use their My Festival feature. With it, you can add films you’re interested in to your account and see them over the course of festival. Compare your school calendar with the one online and see which ones you can attend. Note that there are usually two screenings of each film, but pay attention to their location as they can occasionally be located in Shoreline or Bellevue.
You can use your Husky ID to catch public transportation from campus to the SIFF Cinema Uptown (route 32), SIFF Egyptian (route 49), and AMC Pacific Place (Link/49/70). Or split a Lyft or Uber with friends. Set yourself up to arrive about an hour before the show time, because a line will usually form outside the venue and the best seats in the theater will fill up fast.
Some films have special guests scheduled to attend! This information is listed on the SIFF website under the select films, and if you want insight into the film you just saw, some times they will host a Q&A session afterwards. SIFF also loves to throw parties, so be on the lookout for those special events.
SIFF has three tiers of tickets on their site: Available, Limited Availability, and On Standby. Available is exactly as it sounds: you can still buy tickets. Limited Availability means tickets are running out but few are still left for sale so buy them quick.
On Standby means that the allotment of public tickets for the screening are sold out. SIFF partitions the available seats between public tickets and pass holder tickets. On Standby still means you can see the film, but there is no guarantee. If a film you want to see is On Standby, you can go to the theater the day of the screening and wait in the Standby line. Once both the ticket holders and pass holders are let in, SIFF will let in people from the Standby Line to fill in the remaining seats. It’s done on first come, first serve so if it’s something you really want to see, get there early!
Volunteering with SIFF is a great way to get free tickets to the festival while also padding out your resume. By volunteering you not only get a free T-Shirt, but you’ll get complimentary tickets that are good for festival screenings or for admission to films at SIFF’s year round cinema. If you’re like us, you stockpile them during the festival and when Oscar season comes around, you unload them and save yourself some cash. PLUS, volunteering at the festival puts you on a list for Appreciation Screenings and Membership Appreciation Nights that SIFF puts on throughout the year to say thanks to the volunteers.
To volunteer, you can follow the steps on here and make an account with Shiftboard. Most shifts are taken, but if you check periodically, spots will open up. Venue Crew is our personal favorite as you often get to relax while the screening is taking place, but assisting the festival lounge or packing gala gift baskets are also well and good. Lastly, if you can get a buddy to occupy the same shift as you, time will fly by!
SIFF memberships are a great way to get access to a plethora of perks that’ll help with the festival. SIFF tickets are usually $14, but with a membership you get $2 off every time. Additionally, you’ll also get a slew of year round perks with SIFF like discounted tickets, access to special screenings, and early access to presale of next year’s festival tickets. Memberships are usually $50 at the base level, but students can get discounted memberships for $35. If you’re a movie aficionado, the membership will pay for itself, plus the early festival access (for next year) will ensure you get tickets before they go on standby.
SIFF Picks for Students
Like we mentioned, there are over 200 feature films at the festival this year and most of them don’t have any readily available reviews. If you look at the festival guide, you only get a short blurb about the synopsis and nothing else. It’s a blessing because you’ll often find yourself surprised when you find a hidden gem, but it’s also a curse because you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. The following selections are films that we’ve seen or heard good things about, and think will suit the tastes of students the best. If you want to see a comprehensive list of all the films we’ve seen with their ratings, you can check out our Capsule Review Page here.
*Note: Films like Sorry to Bother You and Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot are not on this list because they are currently on standby, but would otherwise be here.
THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST: Fri 5/25 6:30pm SIFF Uptown | Sat 5/26 3pm SIFF Uptown
The story of gay high school kids in a conversion camp refusing to change who they are, chock full of heartache and hope. Simultaneously charming and disturbing, and not to be forgotten.
THE DEVIL’S DOORWAY: Fri 6/8 11:55pm SIFF Egyptian | Sat 6/9 8:30pm SIFF Uptown
Each year SIFF hosts a number of midnight movies each year, spotlighting the best of the horror and WTF?! selection that is sure to be a treat for horror fans. (Writer/Director Aislinn Clarke scheduled to attend!)
EIGHTH GRADE: Sat 6/9 6:30pm SIFF Egyptian | Sun 6/10 12:30pm SIFF Uptown
We all had those awkward years in middle school, and comedian Bo Burnham makes his film writer/director debut perfectly encapsulating that experience. Modeled after Burnham’s own experiences yet dodging all the clichés of the coming-of-age story, this one certainly hits home, and hits hard.
WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?: Sat 5/26 6pm SIFF UPTOWN | Sun 5/27 at 1:30pm | Both screenings will have director Morgan Neville in attendance.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is a documentary that tells the story of everyone’s favorite neighbor: Fred Rogers. What this documentary does so well is shine light on how Fred Rogers influenced generations of kids to be the best version of our self. Director Morgan Neville is able to illicit an array of timeless emotions that’ll have you in tears throughout, and you really get the sense of how important Rogers was to not only children, but also to society at large.
DISOBEDIENCE: Sun, 5/20 6:45 PM SIFF Cinema Egyptian | Mon, 5/21 6:30 PM Ark Lodge Cinemas.
Disobedience is Sebastián Lelio’s (A Fantastic Woman) latest that follows Ronit (Rachael Weisz) as she returns home to England and she reconnects with Esti (Rachel McAdams), a now married woman she had a relationship with in the past. The story is set within an Orthodox Jewish community and explores the relationship between Ronit and Esti in the face of institutional and social norms that aim to keep them apart and stifle their affection. It’s a powerful film that asks us how we balance belonging and freedom in our personal lives.
FOUND FOOTAGE FESTIVAL: Wed, 6/6 9:15pm SIFF Egyptian | Both Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher will be in attendance
Known for their antics on local news networks, Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher have compiled the weirdest clips from VHS tapes you’ve ever seen and presented them in a compilation for your enjoyment. It’s described as a collection of the “best-of-the-worst” and by our metrics, it seems like nothing short of a good time.
ARCHIVAL FILM SERIES:
If you’re a little more savvy with films and you’re a Film Connoisseur, you should check out SIFF’s Archival Film series where they bring back old films in restored formats. Of note, check out Belle de Jour, Sansho the Bailiff, and L’Inferno ft. a live orchestral score if you’re looking for some “oldies but goldies.”
OTHER NOTABLE FILMS:
We could write about dozens of films at the festival, so we’re gonna round it out with a list of other prominent films at the festival that you may be interested.
-Heart Beat Loud