This week marks the start of the 40th annual Seattle International Film Festival, a 3-week movie extravaganza featuring over 270 feature films. That is, by any measure, an ungodly number of movies, and the whole thing can be pretty damn overwhelming. This will be my third year attending the festival I’m really looking forward to seeing a bunch of films, but I’ve narrowed it down to the five that I’m most looking forward to. Find them after the jump.

Boyhood – When this film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, Peter Sciretta called it “a remarkable cinematic achievement.” Filmed over the course of a few decades with the same actors, director Richard Linklater has taken another stab at using the film medium to illuminate deep truths that all of us experience. Beyond the novelty of how it was filmed, I’m looking forward to being moved by Linklater once again. (6/1, Harvard Exit, 8pm)

The Double – I was a huge fan of Richard Ayoade’s Submarine when I saw it at Sundance, and while The Double is theoretically available on VOD already, I’m still looking forward to catching it in a theater. Ayoade seems to making the transition from actor to director with a lot of grace, and I can’t resist the urge for a double dose of brooding Jesse Eisenberg. (SIFF Uptown, 5/16, 9:30pm and Lincoln Square Cinemas, 5/18, 9:30pm).

Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy – This is a Thai film based on 410 consecutive Twitter updates, which was intriguing enough. But director Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, who has a flare for the experimental, has apparently used this crazy hook to craft a charming coming-of-age story. Worth it just to see whether tweets can be made into a film more effectively than Shit My Dad Says can be made into a sitcom. (5/31, Harvard Exit, 1pm and 6/4, SIFF Uptown, 9:30am)

Dangerous Acts Starring the Unstable Elements of Belarus – Putting aside the unwieldy title, this film uses footage smuggled out of Belarus to tell the story of how the Belarus Free Theatre company used minimalist productions to oppose the of reign of premier Alexander Lukashenko. Even in the U.S., it’s interesting to see how cultural elements like Saturday Night Live can influence an election. In Belarus, the stakes were far higher for those in the opposition. (5/21, Pacific Place, 9:30pm and 5/23, 4pm)


The Rooftops – Directed by Merzak Allouache, The Rooftops chronicles five different Algiers neighborhoods to paint a portrait of modern Algerian society. This is one of those films that you’d likely only see at a film festival, and that gives you a window into a world that you might never have looked through otherwise. (5/26, Harvard Exit, 9:30pm, 5/29, SIFF Uptown, 4pm, and 5/24, Lincoln Square Cinemas 4:30 pm).

A few other films that are also on my list: Lucky Them, My Last Year with the Nuns, Dear White PeopleObvious Child, Fight Church, Whitey

That’s all for now. How many of you will be at the festival, and what films are you looking forward to?

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