SIFF 2019: Let’s Hop On Over to Europe

Sunday morning we mosey down to Pacific Place to see Swedish kids’ movie Sune vs. Sune. A funny little adventure involving one fourth-grade boy named Sune, a new boy in school named Sune, a girl they both like, their parents and teachers, and other kids in and out of school. For what it was, it was quite enoyable – funny and well-paced. And although it’s not necessary to know the back story of old Sune, what we did find out after is that Sune is quite a well-known character in Sweden. He came to being for a local radio program back in the 80s and subsequently developed quite a following. This is like the fifth feature film about Sune and his family. There was also an animated tv program and many books published relating his tales. We found the tv show on youtube, and since it is very much a Swedish phenomenon, with no English subtitles. I think the filmmakers really found a confluence of universal appeal with Sune vs. Sune, so I don’t know if I’ll be running out and watching the other films, even if I could find them. (Though I might try to read a book in my pursuit of learning the Swedish language.)

Later, we got to Shoreline Community College a little early and took a little stroll around campus. If it weren’t for being in Shoreline (Seattle elistist am I), it was be a pretty cool school to attend. Very much in the woods, with lots of nature all around. Of course, my allergies would kill me, too, if I spent too much time there, but I’m sure some people would love it – and do! We were there for Palace for the People, a documentary depicting Soviet-era palaces, their history and original purpose, and their current states. Five were featured, in Moscow, Sofia, Bucharest, Belgrade, and Berlin. They were/are grand contructions of public use buildings, meant to show the people how good life is under Communist rule. All but the Berlin Palace of the Republic are still standing and in use. The film itself is maybe lacking a bit in narrative, it is after all made by a couple of photographers, but the subject itself I find immensely fascinating (immense like the buildings themselves!).

SIFF 2019: Uptown House 2, Times 2

Saturday was a perfect day for watching movies, dark and rainy. We got a little gardening done, and after trying Little Big Burger (Field Roast version) we headed back to the Uptown. (I will admit now that I started writing this probably the very Sunday following this Saturday I’m describing, but then I had some technical issues and just gave up. It is now nearly three weeks later, and I’m finally finishing this.)

OK, so first film was Sgaawaay K’uuna, or Edge of the Knife, the first film performed in the rare Haida language. You can look it up on Wikipedia and learn that only a couple dozen people still speak this language. A small tribe is gathering for their annual fishing party, in preparation for the winter, where we see that one of the tribespeople, Adiits’ii, is not completly respectful of tradition, and subsequently suffers the consequences. Eventually the whole tribe suffers, of course, but Adiits’ii really suffers the most, one might argue, as not only did he accidentally cause the death of his beloved nephew, but is also taken over by demons in the woods. Perhaps I had low expectations, thinking it might be hokey or exploitative, but it was neither of those, and ended up being one of our faves of this festival.

After a little jaunt to the KEXP Gathering Space, it was back to the Uptown for Frances Ferguson. A quirky little tale of a young, attractive teacher who has an illicit relationship with one of her students. A far extreme from a Lifetime Movie, the story was presented as a low-key, minimalist comedy, complete with voice-over narration from Nick Offerman. The rhythm and pacing of this film was very unusual, which I feel very much contributed to the comedic success, but which also could be off-putting to some. Another highlight. A successful Saturday, indeed.

I neglected to mention last time that the Who Let the Dogs Out documentary was led by a documentary short about a dude who won a drug-crazed weekend with Van Halen from MTV back in the 80s. It was funny seeing how nuts these guys went, and trying to imagine something like that happening now.

SIFF 2019: Don’t Feed Your Dog Chocolate

This was documentary weekend. On Saturday we went to the Uptown for Le Chocolat de H, which sadly didn’t come with samples. Hironobu Tsujiguchi has won best in show at an annual French chocolate contest for six years, and now he’s preparing for the next contest. We follow him as he decides on which Japanese flavors to showcase, and we follow him to Ecuador where he visits the plantation that supplies some of his cacao. It was kind of like a high end episode of Japanese Style Originator without the celebrity panel.

Pacific Place Mall is undergoing a huge renovation, but the theater is still open. Today we went there to see Who Let The Dogs Out, about the origins of the eponymous hit song. Ben Sisto spent ten years on the research which he apparently has been presenting as a live show, and now we get to see it on film, along with quite a few interviews of musicians and producers involved in said history. In some ways, I would say this film is reminiscent of The Search for General Tso (see SIFF 2014: Day Two).

I found both films interesting and enjoyable, even if I can’t get that danged song out of my head.

SIFF 2019: Let’s Open This Can of Worms

Here we are, waiting for the Opening Night Gala to begin. It maybe it already has? How does that work? We’ve shown our tickets, bought our drink, and now we’re sitting in our seats listening to Derek Mazzone “spin” some tunes before the festivities begin.

As usual, the Seattle crowd is an odd mix of dressed up and dressed down. Even me and the B are wearing our nicer duds (but not too nice).

Tonight’s film is Sword of Trust. Will update after.

LATER: It was a late night; this is the morning after. The festival has commenced. Before we could see the film, we heard some speeches and saw a heartfelt tribute to the late Paul Allen.

The film itself was good, mostly light hearted and funny, and the first feature Lynn Shelton has filmed outside of the PacNW. Significantly, it was made in Alabama, which had an interesting effect on the proceedings. The producer would remind is that decisions made by the state government this week don’t necessarily represent the values or beliefs of the majority of people living there. Ms. Shelton, star Marc Maron, the cinematographer, and one other of the filmmakers came on stage afterward for a fun Q&A with Beth Barrett. Maron went on a bit of a rant, but it was quite funny so it was OK.

After that, we headed over to the party at Fisher Pavilion. It was quite loud, and we don’t generally talk to strangers, but we got free ice cream, potato dumplings, and cocktails, so it was worth the slight discomfort of being in a crowd.

Our first regular film is tomorrow, so keep your eyes peeled for my all-important updates!