Another year has come and gone for the Seattle International Film Festival, and this year, our top selections include a lot of black comedies and films that capture the power of human emotion, in all of its positive and negative facets. Here are some favorites from 2016.   BURN BURN BURN (United...

As per usual, we here at REDEFINE have done the hard work of going through SIFF 2016 (Seattle International Film Festival)'s extensive three weeks of programming to bring you a carefully curated short-list of films you should actually go out and see. Additionally, this year's SIFF boasts some new and exciting...

Clara Moto - Blue DistanceClara Moto Blue Distance InFiné MusicClara Moto's Blue Distance is the Lost In Translation of bass music. It sounds like driving down an endless expanse of black glass highway with the radio on, shooting towards the horizon while memories retreat like tail lights in the rearview. This Austrian producer's second feature-length for InFiné Music revolves around the theme of remoteness, the feeling of endless travel and longing, and the inevitable distance between a performer and her audience. Blue Distance takes its name from a poem by Sylvia Plath, the patron saint of loneliness. This combination of classical poetry and 21st-century electronic music offers a good summary of what one can expect.
There is an inherent danger with really diving full-force into a film festival that has a scope as large as the Seattle International Film Festival. Often, the movies are top notch, well-selected and well-curated, and fit perfectly within the framework of that section of the festival. Other times, after sitting through self-indulgent artsy dribble that someone, somewhere, found interesting enough to greenlight with millions of dollars, you realize sadly that two or more hours of your life will never return. Now that we're through SIFF 2013, we've decided to give the rundown of what we appreciate and what we will never need to watch again.

The African Cypher (South Africa)

Directed by Bryan Little * TOP PICK * Films like The African Cypher showcase what is so great about festivals like SIFF. This documentary takes a long, sweeping look at the different street dance styles across South Africa, where dancing isn't just something people to do for fun, but something people to do to live. Director Bryan Little takes a backseat and lets his story tell itself through captivating dance sequences and enlightening interviews, as his subjects go from the confines of their neighborhoods to compete with the best at the "Big Dance Competition". Although The African Cypher's run has already passed at SIFF, mark it down as a film to place on hold at the library in the near future -- if anything, for the jaw-dropping dance sequences Little captured forever on film. - Peter Woodburn
 
Due the unfortunate fact that we are merely human and Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) is just beginning its three-week film rampage, we've sifted through the Festival's gigantic catalog to come up with the best films of the bunch -- or so we suspect. SIFF is annually guaranteed to have a mixture of some of the best and worst films that one can see -- and these film recommendations come from the minds of three REDEFINE writers with good intentions. Yet at best, these selections are our most educated hypotheses, determined from a mixture of film industry knowledge and intuitions based on trailers. Below, we've grouped our selections for 2013 by world region. Stay tuned in the weeks to come, as we offer updates throughout the festival's progression, with general thumbs up and thumbs down summaries of the films we will painfully and enjoyably slog and float through, as well as one-off full-length reviews. Happy SIFFing!
Squalloscope Soft Invasions Seayou Records A little over a year ago, Squalloscope -- the second pseudonym of Austrian singer-songwriter-artist Anna Kohlweis -- released her debut album, Soft Invasions. The beautifully composed album, which features expert mixing by Martin Siewert, stands out most for its personal lyrics and its intriguing combination of smooth vocals, instrumental samples, and electronic sounds. A satisfying, if not somewhat melodramatic, introduction to the album is found in "Dust", which establishes the character of Kohlweis' voice and the album's personal story of loss and transformation: "bring me my packed suitcase and all our favorite words." Feelings of angst and frustration pervade and support the earlier part of the album, which emotively details a relationship's deterioration and brutally awoken aftermath. Kohlweis' voice ranges from smooth and silky to rhythmic and almost rap-like against contrasting bare instrumentals and industrial and electronic sounds. This musical backdrop intrigues while supporting Kohlweis' emotional lyrics -- but though angst drives the earlier part of the album, fluidity of genre and varied composition make each song relatively unique.

 

The Portland International Film Festival (PIFF) is upon us again, and we have whittled down their list of 100+ international shorts and full-length films to summarize the most interesting, socially-conscious, and boundary-pushing of the bunch. This year's festival runs from February 7th through the 23rd, beginning with an Opening Night celebration featuring Blancanieves, a silent Spanish reworking of Snow White. Purchase tickets and find out more. Our festival preview begins below with this year's top five picks, followed by the rest in alphabetical order.

Beyond The Hills Directed by Cristian Mungiu (Romania) Based on the novels of Tatiana Niculescu Bran, which are real-life documents of demonic possession, Beyond The Hills is a bleak and stark religious drama set an Orthodox monastery in Moldovia. Though Alina (Cirstina Flutur) heads to the monastery to convince her friend Voichita (Cosmina Stratan) to leave and return to Germany, Alina finds herself sucked more and more into the environment and its callings. Flutur and Stratan both shared the Best Actress Prize at Cannes Film Festival for these performances.          Sat, Feb 9, 2013 at 8:30 PM (Whitsell Auditorium)          Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 7:30 PM (Regal Lloyd Center 4)
Hannah Arendt Directed by Margarethe von Trotta (Germany) Based on the life of German philosopher and writer Hannah Arendt, Hannah Arendt chronicles her writings for The New Yorker on the 1961 war crimes trial of Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann covered a scenario that was not black and white but veiled in greys, causing great conflict and protest amongst an American public and the publication's editing staff. Hannah Arendt is a drama about journalism, and the social duty of reporting as one sees as truthful, rather than as it is idealized or pressured to be.          Sat, Feb 16, 2013 at 8:45 PM (Whitsell Auditorium)          Mon, Feb 18, 2013 at 5:15 PM (Regal Lloyd Center 4)
Laurence Anyways Directed by Xavier Dolan (Canada) Despite being happy and in love, high school teacher Laurence finally reveals to his girlfriend Fred his long-standing desire to become a woman. Fred agrees to support him on his quest, though once the transformations begin, social complications begin to pressure, ostracize, and place fear into the hearts of the couple. Through it all, Laurence Anyways is a tale of love and the ability to weather storms for it.          Sat, Feb 16, 2013 at 8 PM (Cinema 21)          Wed, Feb 20, 2013 at 7 PM (Regal Lloyd Center 10)
Leviathan Directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Véréna Paravel (United States) Leviathan presents experimental filmmaking at its finest or its worst, depending on your opinion of macro-view, immersive documentary art. The New York Film Festival describes Leviathan as "a hallucinatory sensory experience quite unlike any other", and the trailer is seems to assert this with views of commercial fishing, as presented with only abstract sounds and imagery.          Sat, Feb 9, 2013 at 3:15 PM (Whitsell Auditorium)          Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 6 PM (Cinemagic)
Lore Directed by Cate Shortland (Australia) After World War II and the death of Adolf Hitler, five young children are left to fend for themselves when their Nazi SS parents are captured. In an attempt to reach their grandparents in Hamburg, they traverse 500 miles of changing landscapes, meeting unfortunate families along the way and finding a savior in a young Jewish man whose kindness goes against all of their programmed teachings.          Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 7:30 PM (Whitsell Auditorium)          Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 5:45 PM (Regal Lloyd Center 10)

 

The 2012 Seattle International Film Festival begins on May 17th, 2012! In the next few days, we will be providing film previews for our top SIFF picks of the year. Times and dates are subject to change, so please visit siff.net before heading to theatres, or see HERE for all film preview coverage, including film selections from other regions of the world.

 

BREATHING
Austria Directed by Karl Markovics
A jailed teenager finds a renewed sense of purpose after parole officer gives him a new job and new responsibilities. A film lauded for its day-to-day quality and appropriately posited scenes and shots, Breathing is less mind-blowing than it is simply a solid tale of what happens when life exerts pressure on an individual. May 20th @ 8:00pm, SIFF Cinema Uptown May 23rd @ 3:30pm, SIFF Cinema Uptown

 

Portland International Film Festival (PIFF) is upon us again, and we have whittled down their list of 100+ international shorts and full-length films to pick what we have determined to be the best and most interesting of the bunch. Portland International Film Festival 2012 runs from February 9th through the 25th,...

Portland International Film Festival (PIFF) is upon us again, and we have whittled down their list of 100+ international shorts and full-length films to pick what we have determined to be the best and most interesting of the bunch. Portland International Film Festival 2012 runs from February 9th through the 25th,...