One thing's certain: Seattleites love and appreciate the arts. As perfect proof, every spring, the city's many theaters and event spaces draw thousands of movie-goers from near and far to celebrate one of Seattle's most anticipated events: the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF).
Recognized as one of the top film fests in North America, the vibrant event gathers more than 155,000 attendees annually.
This year, the festivities get rolling from May 14 through June 7, 2015, with a bigger and more international program than ever before. (Although, naturally, the cinemas keep the reels turning throughout the year.)
Seattle International Film Festival lights up the scene at venues around town — Photo courtesy of Seattle International Film Festival
Curtains up! As the largest, most highly attended film fest in the country, it's no surprise that the cinematic extravaganza has been named one of "50 Unmissable Film Festivals" by Variety.
This year, the Seattle International Film Festival – renowned for its eclectic programming – screens 450 films from 92 countries. (Fun fact: For the first time ever, the roster features a film from Mauritius, never before spotlighted at a U.S. festival. )
Now with more than 40 years under its belt, SIFF keeps things fresh by evolving with the times. A team of 23-plus programmers watched more than 5,000 films to determine this year's killer lineup. The program features fewer short films and more features in addition to a new culinary-themed category.
Impressive stats include 193 feature films, 70 documentaries, 19 archival films, 164 short films, four secret films, 51 North American premieres and 49 world premieres – 23 of them features, and 26 shorts.
Host venues range from Lower Queen Anne's SIFF Cinema Uptown and Capitol Hill's SIFF Cinema Egyptian to downtown's Cinerama Theater and Marion Oliver McCaw Hall.
The Seattle International Film Festival begins and ends this year on a light note, bookended by two comedies – 20th Century Fox's Spy, from the team behind Bridesmaids (including director Paul Feig and comic actress Melissa McCarthy) and The Orchard's The Overnight, a tantalizing tale by up-and-coming director Patrick Brice (and starring Jason Schwartzman).
The film "Yosemite," told in three chapters, is adapted from a short story collection by James Franco — Photo courtesy of Seattle International Film Festival
Other big names gracing this year's fest include Kevin Bacon, who will be presented with the Career Achievement in Acting Award and interviewed on-stage in conjunction with the screening of Focus World's Cop Car. Screenings of Bacon classics like Footloose and Diner will also celebrate his varied body of work.
Cinema-goers can sift through movies by their mood, thanks to category breakdowns like Love, Make Me Laugh, Show Me the World, Open My Eyes and Provoke Me. Certain themes speak to the distinctive personality of the Northwest like Face the Music, which exposes films that "intersect the world of music on all fronts: from biopics and concert films, to musicals and live events." (For example, a disco takes over Neptune Theatre May 29.)
A brand new culinary cinema category showcases 11 films covering topics from sake and sherry to the world's most famous eatery, and local chefs host movie-meal pairings to celebrate all things food and drink.
Regardless of which films speak to you from this year's program, we promise that the Seattle International Film Festival will be a feast for the senses – expanding your world and taking you on far-flung, unexpected, beautiful adventures.