Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) 2014 is here, which means another few weeks of impressively-curated film-going madness for everyone in the Puget Sound Region. Below, we've once again given you our top selections for the year, grouped 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!

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.

 


FOUND MEMORIES
Brazil/Argentina/France Directed by Julia Murat
A youthful photographer decides to open up her eyes and mind to the stories of older individuals in a small Brazilian town, giving new perspectives on life and death. May 22 @ 9:00pm, Harvard Exit May 24 @ 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...

How To Die In Oregon This film does not beat around the bush. Beginning with a terminally-ill cancer patient who dies on camera, How To Die In Oregon explores the sensitive issue of physician-assisted suicide. Directed by Peter D. Richardson - UNITED STATES SHOWTIMES Sun, Feb 20 @ 9:30am...

Although it may be difficult to confine the music by multi-instrumentalist Chico Mann to just one genre, it is safe to say that his sophomore release, Analog Drift, is a quintessential New York album. With a heavy Afrobeat and Cuban influences, vocals in both Spanish and English, and a number of synthesizers in hand, Chico Mann, aka Marcos Garcia, creates a melting pot of soulful and sexy sounds, much like the city that never sleeps. Previously released digitally through Garcia's Website, Analog Drift is now expanding its audience through Wax Poetics Records and is ready to be played on the dance floors. Right from the first beat, a listener will want to put on a fedora hat and take over the town.

 

This weekend (plus Thursday)'s recommended picks! This is the last weekend of the Portland International Film Festival, so if you haven't seen a movie yet, get out there. Forever Enthralled Chen Kaige tells the story of Chinese opera singer, Mei Langfang, who experienced world-wide fame, only to...

"When you're younger, you kind of freak out and want people to like you. I'm glad that I don't sound like I did 15 years ago." -- Ceci Bastida...