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Festival Blog

Live from the 2008 music and film festivals!

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May 31, 2008 1:00 AM

'American Teen' takes on high school

Posted by John Hartl

More than most documentaries, "American Teen," a non-fiction film about an Indiana high school, makes you wonder how much the subjects/interviewees were acting out for the camera. When a teenage girl slaps a boy at a party, did she do it for melodramatic effect, or because she spontaneously reacted to an insult? When a boy’s older brother gets him drunk for the first time, how much of the incident was staged? At first “American Teen” can seem slick and manipulative, partly because we’re never quite sure how to take some of these responses, but eventually the director, Nanette Burstein, moves past these objections and slips under your skin. The Egyptian will screen the film, which won a documentary directing prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival, at 11 a.m. today.

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May 31, 2008 12:30 AM

Today's screenings: May 31

Posted by Doug Knoop

Egyptian
11 a.m. — ][“American Teen”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Katyn”
4 p.m. — ][“A Wink and a Smile”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Newcastle”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Young People F’ing”
Midnight — ][“Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone”

Harvard Exit
11 a.m. — ][“Butterfly Dreaming”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Creative Nature”
4 p.m. — ][“Idiots and Angels”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Son of a Lion”
9 p.m. — ][“Shadow of the Holy Book”

Pacific Place Cinema
11 a.m. — ][“Ploy”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Garden Party”
4 p.m. — ][“32A”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Ain’t Scared”
9:30 p.m. — ][“TBS (Nothing to Lose)”

SIFF Cinema
11 a.m. — ][“The Family Picture Show 2008”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Truth or Consequences”
4 p.m. — ][“All in the Family”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Gay Lives”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Wild Bunch”

Uptown
11 a.m. — ][“Let the Right One In”
1:45 p.m. — ][“Young Adam”
4:15 p.m. — ][“Mister Foe”
7 p.m. — ][“Encounters at the End of the World”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Unfinished Sky”

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May 30, 2008 1:00 AM

Singer takes off in 'Garden Party'

Posted by John Hartl

Erik Scott Smith, who was uncannily convincing as the teenage Colin Farrell in “A Home at the End of the World,” performs a rockin’ cover of Ricky Nelson’s “Garden Party” in the new movie of that name, which has its world premiere today at the festival. Smith plays a seemingly casual Los Angeles drifter who sleeps with anyone who helps him, male or female - whatever -- but his character really comes alive when he’s singing. His intensity as a performer tends to overwhelm the movie, a “Crash” Lite project that impresses most when it refuses to go where you expect it to go. Time after time, writer-director Jason Freeland sets up a situation that seems headed in a familiar direction, then cuts away before he gets there. Smith’s character, set up to take advantage of the trusting, transplanted country boy who picks him up, makes unpredictability seem like the essence of charm.

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May 30, 2008 12:30 AM

Today's screenings: May 30

Posted by Doug Knoop

Egyptian
4:30 p.m. — ][“Kiss the Bride”
7 p.m. — ][“American Teen”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Savage Grace”
Midnight — ][“Mirageman”

Harvard Exit
4:30 p.m. — ][“Ask Not”
7 p.m. — ][“Creative Nature”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Idiots and Angels”

Pacific Place Cinema
4:15 p.m. — ][“Bigger Stronger Faster*”
7 p.m. — ][“Garden Party”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Time to Die”

SIFF Cinema
4:30 p.m. — ][“The Look of Love”
7 p.m. — ][“Friends & Lovers”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Strange Days”

Uptown
4:30 p.m. — ][“On the Wings of Dreams”
7 p.m. — ][“Captain Ahab”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Ben X”

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May 29, 2008 8:57 AM

Streaming the film festival

Posted by John Hartl


The festival may not have an east-side or University District outlet this year, but six of its fiction films, four of its documentaries and 10 of its shorts are being streamed through June 8 at SIFF’s MyFestival website. Most of the films are American, although the non-fiction features include new movies from Spain, Malaysia and Afghanistan. The website allows you to vote on favorites. The feature with the most votes will be screened at 6:30 p.m. June 15 at the Harvard Exit, along with the most popular of the shorts. Check it out at myfestival.siff.net

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May 29, 2008 1:00 AM

Bodybuilder turns film director

Posted by John Hartl

Not many bodybuilders turn into movie directors. Christopher Bell is both the director and one of the subjects of “Bigger Stronger Faster,” a surprisingly funny, sometimes angry documentary about what he calls “a nation on steroids.” He’s in town today for the local premiere. Like many kids, Bell idolized Rambo, Rocky and Arnold Schwarzenegger. He may not have seen “Casablanca,” but he could quote dialogue from the Conan films. However, he was shocked, you hear, shocked when some of his heroes admitted that they used steroids. Bell’s film branches out to include many other instances of hypocrisy in a society that’s addicted to pills and drugs and winning at all costs. But when he morphs into Michael Moore, tracking down Schwarzenegger at a public event, he’s co-opted in the most charming way.

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May 29, 2008 12:30 AM

Today's screenings: May 29

Posted by Doug Knoop

Egyptian
4:30 p.m. — ][“Blood Brothers”
7 p.m. — ][“Kiss the Bride”
9:45 p.m. — ][“Bad Habits”

Harvard Exit
4:30 p.m. — ][“Song Sung Blue”
7 p.m. — ][“Ask Not”
9:15 p.m. — ][“Butterfly Dreaming”

Northwest Film Forum
7 p.m. — ][“We Want Roses Too”
9 p.m. — ][“Portraits in Cinema”

Pacific Place Cinema
4:30 p.m. — ][“One Hundred Nails”
7 p.m. — ][“Bigger Stronger Faster*” CQ asterisk is part of title
9:30 p.m. — ][“The Art of Negative Thinking”

SIFF Cinema
4:30 p.m. — ][“Ain’t Scared”
7 p.m. — ][“ShortsFest Opening Night”
9:30 p.m. — ][“August”

Uptown
4 p.m. — ][“Mongol”
7 p.m. — ][“Mister Foe”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Let the Right One In”

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May 28, 2008 9:54 AM

SIFF so far

Posted by Lynn Jacobson

One week down and over two to go, and so far, we've told you about some of our festival favorites: "Boy A," "Edge of Heaven," "My Effortless Brilliance." Now it's your turn: Anyone want to campaign for a Golden Space Needle candidate? Or warn other readers away from a title you endured? Share your SIFF wisdom by commenting here.

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May 28, 2008 1:00 AM

Child soldiers in festival films

Posted by John Hartl


More and more movies are dealing with the phenomenon of child soldiers. “Emmanuel Jal: War Child,” which plays today and June 14 at the festival, is another sad/outraged documentary about the tragedy of Darfur. Separated from his family for 18 years, the title character survived a catastrophic shipwreck, training as a pre-teen killer (kids between 6 and 12 were considered fair game) and a journey through a desert with little more than vultures to eat. He’s now a popular hip-hop star. “Son of a Lion,” which screens May 31 and June 1, is a fiction film set in Pakistan, near the Afghan border, where an 11-year-old boy is teased because he prefers music to guns. The family business is gun-making; his uncle encourages him to find a less destructive life, while his father fears that the Americans will send him to Cuba to be tortured. Testy father-son relationships are at the core of both films.

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May 28, 2008 12:30 AM

Today's screenings: May 28

Posted by Doug Knoop

Egyptian
4 p.m. — ][“Patti Smith: Dream of Life”
7 p.m. — ][“Katyn”
9:30 p.m. — ][“A Wink and a Smile”

Harvard Exit
4:30 p.m. — ][“They Killed Sister Dorothy”
7 p.m. — ][“Foster Child”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Slingshot”

Northwest Film Forum
7 p.m. — ][“Casting a Glance”
9 p.m. — ][“Eat, for This Is My Body”

Pacific Place Cinema
4:30 p.m. — ][“Cochochi”
7 p.m. — ][“Juju Factory”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Ploy”

SIFF Cinema
4 p.m. — ][“California Dreamin’ (Endless)”
7:15 p.m. — ][“Emmanuel Jal: War Child”
9:45 p.m. — ][“Jar City”

Uptown
4 p.m. — ][“Camille”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Michou d’Auber”
9:15 p.m. — ][“The Home Song Stories”

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May 27, 2008 2:00 AM

She's taken a shine to Shakespeare

Posted by John Hartl

The festival’s Talking Pictures series, which matches up local celebrities with a favorite film, has provided some lively moments (remember Dale Chihuly discussing his childhood fixation on “Lonely Are the Brave”?) The 2008 series kicks off today with Franco Zeffirelli’s gorgeous version of “Romeo and Juliet,” which was chosen by Stephanie Shine, artistic director of the Seattle Shakespeare Festival. She claims that a childhood viewing 40 years ago turned her on to Shakespeare. The festival is promising a “sparkling” 35mm print of the movie that won the 1968 Oscar for best cinematography.

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May 27, 2008 12:30 AM

Today's screenings: May 27

Posted by Lynn Jacobson

Egyptian
4 p.m. — ][“Breakfast with Scot”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Mongol”
9:30 p.m. — ][“Blood Brothers”

Harvard Exit
4:30 p.m. — ][“The Greening of Southie”
7 p.m. — ][“They Killed Sister Dorothy”
9:30 p.m. — ][“All Will Be Well”

Northwest Film Forum
7 p.m. — ][“Loos Ornamental”
9 p.m. — ][“The Past and the Present”

Pacific Place Cinema
4 p.m. — ][“Juju Factory”
7 p.m. — ][“The Pope’s Toilet”
9:15 p.m. — ][“On the Wings of Dreams”

SIFF Cinema
4:30 p.m. — ][“Unfinished Sky”
6:45 p.m. — ][“Romeo and Juliet”
9:45 p.m. — ][“Faces”

Uptown
4 p.m. — ][“Michou d’Auber”
7 p.m. — ][“The Song of Sparrows”
9:30 p.m. — ][“The Art of Negative Thinking”

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May 27, 2008 12:01 AM

Day 3: Sasquatch! in pictures

Posted by Raina Wagner

And that's it for the best Sasquatch ever. Here's a sampling of how things looked on the last day.

Dyme Def

dyme def.jpg

Marian Liu got a personal rap from the Seattle hip-hop group before they opened the Main Stage Monday. (Video is below.)

The Mars Volta

mars volta.jpg

Always energetic, the Mars Volta were the next-to-last group on the Main Stage of Sasquatch! 2008

The Flaming Lips

flaming lips 2.jpg flaming lips.jpg

All these Monday photos were taken on the Main Stage by Sean Pecknold, and are courtesy of Sasquatch!

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May 26, 2008 11:34 PM

Final thoughts of Sasquatch

Posted by Marian Liu

I leave you with Dyme Def. The Seattle hip-hop group kicked off today and were surprised a huge crowd greeted them at 11:30 a.m. And, most of the audience members were fans already.

Here's their interview.

I also asked them to rap for me.


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May 26, 2008 8:54 PM

Folklife is a wrap

Posted by Raina Wagner

Seattle Times jazz, blues and world-music critic Paul de Barros spent much of the past two days at Folklife. His festival review will appear in The Seattle Times Tuesday. Here's how it starts:

The sun had come out again, multicolored blankets speckled the grass of the Fisher Green, Jim Page was singing a protest song about the Iraq war, a “Trust Jesus” placard waved in the sky and a girl in a green granny dress was scooping up bites of apple dumpling with ice cream on top.
It was Monday afternoon at the 37th annual Northwest Folklife Festival, and all seemed right with the world.
That feeling spoke well for the durability and strength of this cherished Northwest celebration, the annual kickoff to the summer season in Seattle. Because on Saturday evening, for the first time, the festival experienced a shooting (three people experienced minor injuries). What’s more, the event was being steered by a brand new executive director, Robert Townsend, who inherited a debt in excess of $100,000.
Despite all that, this year’s Folklife was as robust as ever, and its cultural focus on Urban Indians was a great success.

Read the whole piece in print Tuesday, or follow this link.

And that's it from Folklife 2008! See you next year!

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May 26, 2008 8:15 PM

My favorite today - Flight of the Conchords

Posted by Marian Liu

I have to admit - Flight of the Conchords were my favorite and the reason I wanted to come to Sasquatch in the first place.

Just like their album and HBO show, the duo - Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie - were funny for being completely awkward. The two are so popular now that they were not open for interviews, well, they didn't even need the press actually, because the crowd all the way up the mountain of the Gorge, sang along - recognizing the songs as they began.

They sang their hits, "Business Time," "Foux du Fafa" and "Robots." Jermaine even added onto the robot song, commenting on the porta-potties, the Honey Buckets, in the amphitheatre.

The two were hilarious - wearing painted tux t-shirts - and jiggling their butts on stage. I felt that their session was way too short at around 40 minutes, because they only had a chance to go through nine songs, missing the "Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros" song. But, I'll wait for the Sub Pop festival for that. It's on July 12 to 13 at the Marymoor Park. More info here.

More to come later -- including an interview and spit session with Dyme Def. Meanwhile, my batteries are dying, so I have to charge them.

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May 26, 2008 5:51 PM

Sir Ben thanks Metro

Posted by Hilary Buckley

b1siffpic26.jpg
JOHN LOK / SEATTLE TIMES

Actor Sir Ben Kingsley, left, gestures in gratitude to a Metro bus driver who stopped to let Kingsley and his entourage exit their vehicle Sunday afternoon at Seattle's Egyptian Theatre for an appearance at a Seattle International Film Festival event. At right, in blue dress, is Kingsley's wife, Daniela Lavender. The film festival presented Kingsley the Golden Space Needle Award for outstanding achievement in acting. The theater was screening one of Kingsley's latest films, "Elegy," as part of the festival. Kingsley is probably best known for the 1983 film "Ghandi," for which he won an Academy Award for his portrayal of the Indian leader.

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May 26, 2008 5:27 PM

Ah, for another 'Amadeus'

Posted by John Hartl

Although he won a best-actor Oscar for 1984’s “Amadeus,” F. Murray Abraham found it difficult to land a comparable movie role. “Rejection is personal, by the way,” he said during a Memorial Day film festival program billed as “An Afternoon With F. Murray Abraham. “It isn’t . . .your piano playing they don’t like, it’s you.” After the success of “Amadeus,” he wanted to play only starring roles, but he was offered few scripts. When he turned down the offers he was getting, he was given even fewer opportunities. Although he had a thriving stage career, his movies stalled out with Disney’s heavily compromised “An Innocent Man” and (more recently) a Thailand-based turkey called “Blood Monkey.” “I do a lot of work in Europe,” he said, adding that he made plenty of money working on a bad movie with Sophia Loren and director Lina Wertmuller.
Interviewed at the Northwest Film Forum by local film critic Jeff Shannon, Abraham said he sees himself as being “a lot of fun,” though his chosen profession is “always a struggle.” He talked about getting thrown out of Uta Hagen’s acting class, physically throwing someone out of a class he was teaching, and spending time in jail before discovering the stage. He also discussed the making of some of his better-known movies: “Scarface,” “The Name of the Rose” and “All the President’s Men,” in which he was on-screen for all of 15 seconds. Nevertheless, he worries that he never connected with the role: “It’s such a small part, but it still bothers me.” Asked about what he wants a director to provide, he said he prefers a pragmatic approach: tell him to make it faster or louder (or not) or tell him that his technique is “b.s.” “I don’t need motivation,” he said. “I need help.” (Abraham is also in town to narrate “The Genesis Suite,” which the Seattle Symphony will present Thursday and Saturday at Benaroya Hall.)

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May 26, 2008 4:09 PM

Some highlights of Sasquatch Day 3 - The Hives

Posted by Marian Liu

hives.jpgYesterday may have been the best day for music, but today the weather held up, and unfortunately, I have the farmer tan to prove it.


And I have to say, The Hives were the most charismatic of the festival. Lead singer Pelle Almqvist was hilarious, saying such quips like if the band had played 100 percent, the audience would fall into the Gorge and die. He also said it wasn't just the weather that was hot, it was because of him. Almqvist even asked the crowd to fan him as he held his shirt open.

Their music is good, but what makes The Hives is Almqvist's personality. He has a Mick Jagger like swagger, complete with the arm on the hips march.

"It's hot up here, but we will not compromise," said Almqvist. "We will wear our special outfits (black and white schoolboy suits with crests), because they give a lot of our special powers."

The group played a lot of their hits, including - "Walk Idiot Walk," "Tick Tick Boom" and "Return the Favour." There seemed to be a bit of microphone problems in the end with Almqvist resorting to screaming into the mic, but definitely, The Hives were one of the highlights of the festival.

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May 26, 2008 1:12 PM

Hip-hop concert review

Posted by Raina Wagner

Times freelancer Andrew Matson went to the Native hip-hop concert at Bagley Wright Sunday night. Here's an excerpt from his review:

Bouncing around the whole stage with mic in hand, the rapper appeared joyful. His chant went like this:
"I'm from Tu-LAY-lip! And I'm proud of it! Very few, very few get out of it!"
Sure, his music sounds like party music. That's what hip-hop is. But the raps of 19-year-old Tulalip Tribes member Komplex Kai are more -- a rez-centric reality that registers profound unease. And those raps resonated at the Northwest Folklife Festival at Sunday night's Native hip-hop concert at Bagley Wright Theatre.
For 40 minutes, Kai rapped with a mix of compassion and anger, revealing his allegiance to another tribe that could use a revival: '90s gangsta rappers of emotional substance.

The full review will appear Tuesday in The Seattle Times, but you can read it now here.

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May 26, 2008 12:22 PM

Dressing for Sasquatch

Posted by Marian Liu

With the weather going from sunny, to hazy to rainy, it's hard to dress cute at this festival. So mainly, I've been efficient with my clothes.

I've been wearing a T-shirt and rainproof pants with a poncho - unfortunately very plain.

But others are a lot more fashionable them me. I've seen bikini's, cowboy hats, spring dresses and tanks. And here are some shirts that I've noticed that say:

  • I am not a nugget - with a chicken image
  • I heart Tofu
  • Game Over - with a husband and wife video game image
  • Wiid - with a stoned Mario

But, I bought this cool jacket for only $35. It's my find of the festival!

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May 26, 2008 10:32 AM

Sasquatch Day 3

Posted by Marian Liu

flight.jpgI have only thing to say -- Flight of the Conchords.

Though I'm really sad that the spoof rock band was not available for an interview - it would have been cool to have them make up a song on the spot for me. Or better yet, just have one of their weird conversations and include me in the loop.

So in anticipation, I leave you one of their funniest songs, which is actually The Presidents of the United States of America's lead singer Chris Ballew's favorite song of theirs.


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May 26, 2008 9:32 AM

Sasquatch! Day 2 in pictures

Posted by Raina Wagner

The sun has risen on the final day at the 2008 Sasquatch! Music Festival. Here's a photo sampling from Day 2, with the Presidents of the United States of America, Rogue Wave, Death Cab for Cutie and the night's headliners, the Cure.

Cancer Rising

cancer rising.jpg



















Photo by Sean Pecknold

The Seattle hip-hop/soul crew played a mid-afternoon set on the Yeti Stage.

Rogue Wave

rogue wave.jpg














Photo by Sean Pecknold

Marian Liu says this alternative band out of Oakland was one of her favorites of the day. See a video interview they recorded with her earlier in the day (below).









The Presidents

pusa 2.jpg



















Photo by Christopher Nelson

These longtime Seattle favorites had a fun set on the Main Stage.






Sera Cahoone

sera cahoone.jpg





photo by Sean Pecknold

Grand Archives' Mat Brooke wasn't the only one-time member of Carissa's Wierd finding success at Sasquatch! Singer-songwriter Sera Cahoone closed out the day on the Yeti Stage. (And there's more with Brooke below in Saturday posts.)


















Death Cab for Cutie

death cab.jpg death cab 2.jpg







photos by Christopher Nelson

The band from Bellingham went on the Main Stage right before the Cure. Some of the main-stage audience actually filed out during the Cure's set -- but they stayed for DCFC.


















The Cure

the cure.jpg

Photo by Christopher Nelson

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May 26, 2008 2:00 AM

Goin' on a cougar hunt

Posted by John Hartl

Local filmmaker Lynn Shelton’s earlier film, “We Go Way Back,” demonstrated her gift for black comedy, but she really lets loose with her new one: “My Effortless Brilliance,” a well-cast portrait of an impossible Seattle friendship that screens this afternoon at the Egyptian. Part of the festival’s local series, Northwest Connections, it stars Sean Nelson (who used to write freelance movie reviews for the Seattle Times) and Basil Harris (of the local band “Awesome”) as sometime pals who go on a cougar-hunting expedition in eastern Washington.

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May 26, 2008 12:30 AM

Fast fun -- Plus today's screenings: May 26

Posted by Lynn Jacobson

Topping our SIFF list today are the winners of The Seattle Times’ Three Minute Masterpiece digital film contest — 11 amazingly entertaining films made by readers, which screen for free at SIFF Cinema at 11 a.m.. See for yourself how much fun three minutes can be; the films are streaming here, right now.

Egyptian
11 a.m. — ][“Boy A”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Transsiberian”
4 p.m. — ][“My Effortless Brilliance”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Fly Filmmaking Challenge 2008”
9 p.m. — ][“Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson”

Harvard Exit
11 a.m. — ][“Fantastic Parasuicides”
1:30 p.m. — ][“Dream Boy”
4 p.m. — ][“The Wrecking Crew”
6:30 p.m. — ][“Breakfast with Scot”
9 p.m. — ][“PVC-1”

Northwest Film Forum
2 p.m. — ][“An Afternoon with F. Murray Abraham”
5 p.m. — ][“Dust”
7 p.m. — ][“Milky Way”
9 p.m. — ][“We Want Roses Too”

Pacific Place Cinema
11 a.m. — ][“Nocturna”
1 p.m. — ][“Heartbeat Detector”
4 p.m. — ][“Up the Yangtze”
6:45 p.m. — ][“Cochochi”
9 p.m. — ][“Mermaid”

SIFF Cinema
11 a.m. — ][“3 Minute Masterpieces 2008”
1:15 p.m. — ][“King of Ping Pong”
4 p.m. — ][“Hair: Let the Sun Shine In”
6:30 p.m. — ][“The Greening of Southie”
9 p.m. — ][“Café de Los Maestros”

Uptown
11 a.m. — ][“Terra”
1:30 p.m. — ][“The Children of Huang Shi”
4:15 p.m. — ][“Still Life”
6:45 p.m. — ][“Sita Sings the Blues”
9 p.m. — ][“A Man’s Job”

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May 25, 2008 11:51 PM

Highlights of Sasquatch Day 2 - Michael Franti, Death Cab For Cutie and Rogue Wave

Posted by Marian Liu

Michael Franti and Rogue Wave were my two favorites of the day.

Like I said earlier, I had a hard time tearing away from Rogue Wave to head to the main stage. Especially, after having a fun time hanging out with the guys in the vineyard, I liked them even more. It's a rare combination - a friendly band with good music. Even their manager, who also deals with Death Cab For Cutie, said that she's lucky to be working with such a good group of guys.

On Death Cab For Cutie - wow, what a great setting to hear the hopeless romantics. The sun was setting and Ben Gibbard was singing about following you into the dark. He sang that song, along with "I Will Possess Your Heart" and "Soul Meets Body" - all these songs that make snuggling the sweetie a necessity there.

Gibbard also cracked some jokes. He said that while talking to Tegan and Sara's mom, he didn't want to admit that he didn't like the movie "Juno," but now, in front of everybody, he admitted that the movie didn't do it for him. And, when Death Cab guitarist Chris Walla wished his dad a happy pre-birthday wherever he was, Gibbard said the dad was probably with security.

But, on the positive side, he did give the Blue Scholars props for a well done show, saying the Seattle hip-hop duo earned a blue ribbon for their performance, and that they said it best with the quote - "The Northwest fills my lungs. It fills the pain in my chest."

Actually, the best message of the day was from Michael Franti who gave a very powerful show. The San Francisco hip-hop-funk-reggae rocker matched the mood of the festival best - giving a very hippie vibe - about peace, love and understanding. He also dedicated a song to his son, Cappy, a graffiti artist who traveled to New York to paint, saying it was for everyone who was trying to find what was most important in life.

And, actually, The Cure ended up being a bit anticlimatic. Their show started a little after 10 p.m. with a wash of blue, purple and yellow lights sweeping the audience like a great ocean. But, many of their beginning songs were unknown to a lot of the audience members, who quickly sat down.

To their credit, The Cure did do a version of "Lovesong" with deeper bass beats and their lead singer's trademark voice. Robert Smith, always sounds like he's about to cry.

But, it may have been too late, because audience members started streaming out. At that point, the band paused, seemingly to readjust their lineup - singing "Pictures of You."

Ironically, one of the groups of fans that spilled out started singing what they wished The Cure would play earlier, "Friday I'm in Love."

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May 25, 2008 10:43 PM

Indigenous Hip-hop

Posted by Raina Wagner

Here's another Sunday-night dispatch from Andrew Matson, who went to the late-night Native hip-hop concert:

At the Bagley Wright Theatre, DJ Defcon interviewed Komplex Kai, and the two local Native hip-hop stars (Skagit and Tulalip, respectively) mused that today's urban Indian "doesn’t fight with bows and arrows," said Defcon, but "mikes and beats," finished Kai.

Defcon and Kai brought to the stage a polished, mainstream-leaning style of hip-hop, one that was still very focused on the day-to-day reality of rez life. Komplex Kai is the Tulalip's Tupac.

Read Matson's full review of the concert on Monday at seattletimes.com.

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May 25, 2008 10:30 PM

Monday highlights

Posted by Raina Wagner

The final day of Northwest Folklife 2008 is here. Here are some picks from The Seattle Times arts staff for Day 4:

9:30 a.m.
Fisher Green Healing Circle, Fisher Green Stage
This ceremony draws on the traditions of the White Swan Dakota, but is for united Indians of all tribes, and opens the last day of this year's Folklife, 9:30-11:30 a.m.

1 p.m.
Urban Indian Blues & Beyond, Fountain Lawn Stage
Two groups -- N8V and Cheyenne River Blues -- show that the "Urban Indian" theme of this year's Folklife extends to unexpected genres -- rock and blues respectively.

3 p.m.
The Many Shades of Gospel Music, Bagley Wright Theatre
The famed Total Experience Gospel Choir is among the gospel groups featured in this three-hour showcase.

For the kids
And families, don’t forget: Kids’ activities rule every day, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., on the Broad Street side of Seattle Center. That’s where children 12 and younger have a place of their own, the Folklife Commons Kids Area, with music, activities, stories and dancing geared toward families.

All in all, there are more than 100 Monday performances scheduled. Find the complete schedule at the Northwest Folklife Web site .

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May 25, 2008 10:14 PM

The post-bullet Folklife

Posted by Raina Wagner

Times freelancer Andrew Matson headed to Northwest Folklife the day after Saturday's shooting incident, and reports that people couldn't stop talking about it. Here's what he saw:

All day people kept talking about Saturday's shooting with surprise. The general sentiment: This is the "free hugs" festival, not the shooting festival.

Case in point: The guys with "free hugs" signs. But there was also a Folklifer advertising, "Punch Me for $5."

That demonstrates a subtle but visible change in the audience at Folklife, no longer just a "hippie fest." The crowd covering the Fountain Lawn was a bunch of hippie revivalists, others who were clearly sick of such people, families with children, and people who just wanted to party. Read a news follow about the shooting Saturday at seattletimes.com.

And kids were everywhere. They waded in the milky blue fountain by the Vera Project -- probably urinating but definitely having fun. All ages got wet and silly in the International Fountain all day. It was hot enough for a real summer-festival feeling.

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May 25, 2008 9:13 PM

One Man Band

Posted by Liz Langton

Christopher of the Wolves, a performer from Port Townsend, plays the didgerioo, steel drum, gong, and other instruments - often all at once. Listen to him perform and talk about how he got started with these diverse instruments.

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May 25, 2008 8:11 PM

Ben Kingsley tries to act 'less and less'

Posted by John Hartl

“I have subscribed to stillness for years,” said Sir Ben Kingsley at a packed film-festival tribute Sunday afternoon at the Egyptian theater. “I don’t know how it evolved in me,” he added, though he figures this approach to acting probably had something to do with watching old Spencer Tracy movies on television. “I try to do less and less . . . I think the camera is allergic to acting.” Currently busy filming Martin Scorsese’s new picture, “Shutter Island,” Kingsley has three movies in the festival: the trashy European train thriller, “Transsiberian”; the sardonic American comedy, “The Wackness”; and a shattering, heartfelt romantic drama, “Elegy,” based on a Philip Roth novella, that may just earn him a fifth Academy Award nomination. He plays a literature professor who becomes increasingly vulnerable during an affair with a student (Penelope Cruz). He dedicated it to his wife, Daniella, without whom he “would not know the meaning of happiness.” As film critic Dave Poland interviewed the 64-year-old Kingsley, clips were shown from many of his earlier pictures, including his nominated performances in “Bugsy,” “Sexy Beast,” “House of Sand and Fog” and “Gandhi,” for which he won the best-actor Oscar a quarter of a century ago. While it was only his second film, “Gandhi” still looms large in his career. Some fans regard it as a near-religious experience, but Kingsley said he was proud that he and director Richard Attenborough were able to avoid turning the title character into a saint. To emphasize Gandhi’s humanity, he looked for signs of impatience and aggression in Gandhi’s behavior: “They were gifts to me.” Booked up with half a dozen projects for the next year, he believes that “I am on the planet to be a storyteller,” and he’s thankful that he’s been “invited into the brotherhood of storytellers.”

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May 25, 2008 8:00 PM

Eager for The Cure

Posted by Marian Liu

I'm anxiously waiting for The Cure.

And to drum up the anticipation, I've linked up this Cure video to get you excited as well. The gothic band is on at 10 p.m. tonight.

Friday I'm in Love

More later on The Cure and Death Cab For Cutie (which comes on in a little bit). Stay tuned.

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May 25, 2008 6:50 PM

Rogue Wave and the Presidents of the United States of America

Posted by Marian Liu

Glad I had a chance to interview Rogue Wave, because they were great on stage. Besides Vince Mira, I had a hard time leaving them for the main stage.

Lead singer Zach Schwartz has an effervescent voice with tones of R.E.M. - be sure to check out the Oakland band's song "Love's Lost Guarantee."

And leave it to Washington to have a music festival powered by mostly local bands. It's not simply for the sake of Northwest love either - because these bands could easily headline anywhere else.

The Presidents of the United States of America's set was pretty much like the one they played at Paramount, down to their outfits - lead singer Chris Ballew was in a yellow shirt, guitarist Andrew McKeag in red shirt plus black suit and drummer Jason Finn also in a black suit with a blue shirt.

And, their latest album must be making strides, because besides their main hit, "Peaches," folks in the audience sung along to songs from their latest album, "These Are the Good Times People" like "Mixed Up S.O.B."

By the way, be sure to check out the video PUSA made for us off of a reader song contest

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May 25, 2008 6:06 PM

Denny's here at Sasquatch

Posted by Marian Liu

It's almost dinner time, and although I've packed my spam musubi's, I've been craving fast food. But, the food here will cost you.

Hot Dogs - $5
Beer - $11 (domestic), $12 (import), both 24 oz.
Teriyaki Bowl - $7
Funnel Cake - $5
Soda/Water - $4
Hamburger - $7

And Denny's has set up an all-nighter lounge over here at the campgrounds. I have to go over and grab some of their breakfast food. The menu features their classic breakfast and late-night menu items. There will also be DJ's performing.They open at 10 p.m.

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May 25, 2008 6:05 PM

Utah Phillips, Maurice Roman, Best Busker Name and More

Posted by Paul de Barros

Shortly after a tribute concert for the great, Northwest-based bard Utah Phillips Friday night, the singer passed away. Phllips had been sick for some time. He died of congestive heart failure. He was 73. Perhaps after the Folklife send-off he felt he could leave us.

Maurice Roman, Egyptian oud master, gave his annual Folklife performance at the Charlotte Martin Theatre this afternoon. No matter how many times I hear Maurice, he always charms me. Hunched over his pear-shaped oud, his chin just topping the instrument, he sang works from Egypt called "Pharaoh Songs" and a Lebanese tune. When someone in the audience recognized it, he chatted in Arabic with her for a while. What a treat to have Maurice in town, and a packed house that not only loves his playing but speaks his language.

Over in the Rainier Room, the accordion bunch was going full bore. Bertram Levy played a lovely ballad on the Argentine squeeze box known as the bandoneon and Laurie Andres, who usually sticks to the Roadhouse contradance bands, graced us with solo jigs and reels. There's no figuring these song titles. "Road to California" is from Vermont; "The Flowers of Michigan," New York.

Best Busker band name on the grounds so far: The Bad Mitten Orchestra, five gals from Eugene Oregon playing accordion, banjo, guitar, bass fiddle and cello between Fisher Terrace and the Charlotte Martin Theatre

How sweetly Seattle sings. Over in the Iintiman Theatre Courtyard, a pickup group of 40 or more choristers sight-read Vivaldi's "Gloria" under the able baton of the Bellevue Chamber Orchestra's Fred Lokken. It wasn't just the reverb in the courtyard that made them sound so celestial. Nice work!

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May 25, 2008 5:40 PM

Urban Indians Dance, Tell Stories, Weep

Posted by Paul de Barros

"If I'm a little emotional," said Becky Bendixen, spokesperson for the Aleut dance troupe called Sngagim Axasniikangin, whose voice cracked several times during her announcements, "it's because the anthropologists said my culture was dead and my language was dead. This is proof to you -- we're so not dead."

That's for sure. The dance program at Intiman Theatre part of Foiklife's cultural focus this year, Urban Indians, which deals with an often-neglected group: Native Americans in cities, off the reservation. The Aleuts, mostly from Bellingham but with roots in the Aleutian Islands, were more than lively, shouting, chanting, jumping, paddling, ducking under one another and slapping frame drums. They did a seagull dance, eagle dance, a halibut dance and a grass dance, that last of which climaxed with an explosion feathers that filled the air, then floated slowly to the floor. Their regalia was great: brown, orange and yellow deerskin with tassles, and multi-colored beads dangling over their faces. The group has only been together seven months, but they drew a well-deserved standing ovation from the crowd.

Later that afternoon, on the narrative stage on Fisher Terrace, in a meaty program called "Storytelling as the Source of Wisdom," Roger Fernandes, of the Lower Elwha S'Klallam tribe, told a creation myth of the Snoqualmie that involved a bird that wouldn't wash its face, a catacysmic flood and a heroic contest between otter, muskrat and beaver. The happy result? They saved the world. Unlike other native storytellers, Fernandes then deconstructed the story, explicating its subtle wisdom. We ate it up. Never mind the elder who approached him afterward, mildly scolding, "We can give people food, but we shouldn't chew it for them."

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May 25, 2008 4:32 PM

Hanging out with Rogue Wave at Sasquatch

Posted by Marian Liu

Blue Scholars were playing, and their beats boomed throughout the Gorge. I found myself bobbing at my computer.

I just hung out in the vineyards with Oakland alternative band Rogue Wave. They goofed off and interviewed themselves. Being from the Bay Area too, I had to ask them about their "California" song which says "Screw California," and they answered that just because you live somewhere doesn't mean you have to like that place all the time.

Here's the interview...


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May 25, 2008 3:55 PM

Free Ice Cream at Sasquatch

Posted by Marian Liu

icecreamman.jpgWhile I'm waiting for another video to upload, dying of hunger, the Ice Cream Man saved me - I'm not kidding. There's this man, Matt Allen, who's passing out ice cream, on a tour throughout the nation. Sponsored by Blue Bunny, this Ice Cream Man has gifted over 135,000 frozen treats.

Check out his site - www.myspace.com/icecreamman. He's planning on expanding operations in 2008 to include over a dozen stops at children's hospitals, random ice cream socials, and spontaneous dance parties.

Look out for him at the festival. Free ice cream always brings a smile.

(image courtesy of www.myspace.com/icecreamman)

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May 25, 2008 2:15 PM

Rainn Wilson of The Office at Sasquatch

Posted by Marian Liu

I interviewed Seattlelite Rainn Wilson, who has a movie coming out, called "The Rocker," out in theaters August 1.

Here's the interview. In person, he's just as hilarious as he is on "The Office." In a previous interview, he starts inside a porta-potty with a reporter, and in mine, he runs away to catch a bus.

We were right by the main stage where 65daysofstatic played - I liked them. They sounded like videogame music, almost out of a game of Metroid.

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May 25, 2008 12:54 PM

First day photos!

Posted by Raina Wagner

The second day of Sasquatch! is just underway. Here are some scenes from Day 1.

Fleet Foxes


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Photo by Sean Pecknold

One of the Day 1 surprises was the Seattle band's second gig on the main stage; when the National moved to a later slot on the Yeti stage, Fleet Foxes went on in their set time -- right before the New Pornographers, M.I.A., Modest Mouse and R.E.M.


Ozomatli

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Sasquatch 2008 Photo by Christopher Nelson

Ozomatli played the Main Stage.

Vince Mira

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Sasquatch 2008 Photo by: Christopher Nelson

The Seattle teen who sounds like Johnny Cash was one of the first-day highlights. Mira played the Yeti Stage.

Grand Archives

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Sasquatch 2008 Photo by: Christopher Nelson

The Grand Archives closed out the first day on the Yeti Stage

M.I.A.

mia.jpg




















Sasquatch 2008 Photo by: Christopher Nelson

One of Marian Liu's favorites, rapper M.I.A. riled up the crowd for the sets to come from Modest Mouse and R.E.M.

Modest Mouse

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Sasquatch 2008 Photo by: Christopher Nelson






The Gorge crowd for Modest Mouse

modest mouse crowd.jpg


















Sasquatch 2008 Photo by: Christopher Nelson

R.E.M.

Sasquatch 2008 Photo by: Christopher Nelson


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Michael Stipe closes out Day 1 on the Main Stage

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May 25, 2008 11:35 AM

The Weather Outlook Today at Sasquatch

Posted by Marian Liu

Yesterday during Modest Mouse, there was rain for about 2 minutes. Even so, I grabbed my poncho and was ready. But, I must have looked dumb, because this toddler came up to me and told me to take it off because it obviously wasn't raining.

Well, so far it looks a little sunny, and it may go into the 70s, but there's still chance of rain both today and tomorrow

chance_of_rain.gif

Cloudy
Wind: NE at 3 mph
Humidity: 42%

(weather outlook courtesy of google.com)

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May 25, 2008 10:44 AM

Sasquatch Day 2

Posted by Marian Liu

IMG_4059.JPG

Today, I'm looking forward to watching...

  • Blue Scholars
  • Cancer Rising
  • Rogue Wave (I'm interviewing them too!)
  • The Presidents of the United States of America
  • Death Cab For Cutie
  • And of course, The Cure
  • And, I'm prepared. I'm lugging a backpack and ready for the elements:

  • umbrella
  • poncho
  • lots of layers - long sleeve shirt, jacket, sweatshirt, arm socks
  • lots of chocolate snacks
  • lots of granola bars
  • wipes (only porta-potties out here!)
  • And I packed spam musubis for lunch! They're like spam sushi - cheap and very filling.
  • (photo taken sunny Saturday - Marian Liu/The Seattle Times)

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    May 25, 2008 2:00 AM

    "Heaven" sent

    Posted by John Hartl

    For the past few years, the festival has been celebrating relatively young filmmakers by showing new and old work of these “Emerging Masters.” This morning at Pacific Place, the Turkish- German director, Fatih Akin, will be honored with a double bill of his much-loved 2004 immigrant drama, “Head-On,” and his entrancing new picture, “The Edge of Heaven,” which also deals with people who feel allegiances to both Turkey and Germany. Baki Davrak, as a gentle professor searching for a young woman he’s never met, carries the latter with his soulful performance.

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    May 25, 2008 12:30 AM

    Today's screenings: May 25

    Posted by Lynn Jacobson

    Academy Award-winning actor Ben Kingsley (“Gandhi”) visits Seattle International Film Festival at 2 p.m. today to present the North American premiere of director Isabel Coixet’s “Elegy.” He’ll be on stage afterward at the Egyptian for an interview and Q&A with the audience.

    For complete venue and ticket information, go to SIFF's Web site.

    Egyptian
    11 a.m. — ][“Secret Festival”
    2 p.m. — ][“A Tribute to Sir Ben Kingsley”
    6 p.m. — ][“Sexy Beast”
    9 p.m. — ][“Patti Smith: Dream of Life”


    Harvard Exit
    11 a.m. — ][“Faces”
    1:15 p.m. — ][“Chris & Don: A Love Story”
    4 p.m. — ][“It Always Rains on Sunday”
    6:30 p.m. — ][“Dream Boy”
    9 p.m. — ][“Fantastic Parasuicides”


    Northwest Film Forum
    5 p.m. — ][“Loos Ornamental”
    7 p.m. — ][“Movie, or An Introduction to the Philosophy of Auteur Filmmaking”
    9 p.m. — ][“Who’s Afraid of Kathy Acker?”


    Pacific Place Cinema
    11 a.m. — ][“Head-On”
    1:30 p.m. — ][“The Edge of Heaven”
    4:15 p.m. — ][“Everything is Fine”
    7:15 p.m. — ][“Up the Yangtze”
    9:45 p.m. — ][“The 3 Little Pigs”


    SIFF Cinema
    11 a.m. — ][“Heavy Metal in Baghdad”
    1:15 p.m. — ][“Love and Honor”
    4:15 p.m. — ][“Opium - Diary of a Madwoman”
    6:45 p.m. — ][“King of Ping Pong”
    9:30 p.m. — ][“Vexille”

    Uptown Cinema
    11 a.m. — ][“Terra”
    1:30 p.m. — ][“Sita Sings the Blues”
    4 p.m. — ][“The Last Mistress”
    6:30 p.m. — ][“The Fall”
    9:30 p.m. — ][“Camille”

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    May 24, 2008 10:31 PM

    Highlights of the First Sasquatch Day

    Posted by Marian Liu

    IMG_4070.JPG

    It was a day for family and friends. There were even toddlers around. And, while I was waiting for my favorite of the day, M.I.A. to play, I saw...

    • a man jiggling to The New Pornographers cover the "Don't Bring Me Down"
    • a group of guys cheer their friend on for his 48th birthday
    • and a little girl with pink fairy wings sitting on her father's shoulders

    Most of all, I'm glad that M.I.A. didn't disappoint. The first time I saw her perform was in a small venue in San Francisco, and then and now in this expanse of a festival, her momentum transferred to the audience. She was the first artist today that I needed earplugs to listen to. She was that loud and her music demanded dancing - and not just any kind of dancing, but the frenetic jarring kind - think Elaine from "Seinfeld." In fact, her dancers were krumping - Los Angele's style of hyper hip-hop dance.

    M.I.A. is also a powerful example - she's empowering to watch as a woman. How many female rappers are there that can hold a crowd and headline this type of festival? And, she's not even from the states at that.

    For the uninitiated, here's her site - www.myspace.com/mia. Be sure to check out her 2005 big hit "Galang" and her current hit "PPRPLNS ryeryeAB."

    Admittedly, there were folks in the crowd that didn't appreciate her as much as I did. But, that's where Modest Mouse came in for them. The thing that I love about that Issaquah band is that they are really modest. If they were in a crowd, you might not be able to pick them out. But, for such an unassuming demeanor, their voices sure rock the Gorge.

    (Photo of Modest Mouse playing - Marian Liu/The Seattle Times)

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    May 24, 2008 9:22 PM

    Sunday highlights

    Posted by Raina Wagner

    Day 2 of Folklife is still going strong, but here's some of the fun we're looking forward to on Day 3:

    11 a.m.
    Recess Monkey, Just for Kids Showcase, Fisher Green Stage
    This local kids’ rock band will get the kids screaming — and the parents dancing, too. The two-hour showcase at Fisher Green continues with Board of Education and Sandy Buchner.

    12:20 p.m.
    “Urban Indians: Dance Celebration,” Intiman Theatre
    Dance troupes from the Haida, Aleut and Tlingit traditions are part of a this two-hour showcase, one of many performances under the umbrella of this year’s cultural focus, the Urban Indian.

    1 p.m.
    Carrie Akre, Fisher Green Stage
    The local fave singer has a short live set.

    3:30 p.m.
    Northwest Independent Showcase, Vera Stage
    Independent artists in a variety of genres play this 2 1/2-hour showcase — Calvin Johnson plays “homemade music,” Christina Antipa is all folk.

    7 p.m.
    “Indigenous & Indigenius Hip Hop,” Bagley Wright Theatre
    This hip-hop concert will showcase Native musicians and rappers, including Culture Shock Camp, Komplex Kai and Red Eagle Soaring.

    7 p.m.
    All-ages alternative concert, EMP Sky Church
    With the Nextdoor Neighbors, the Mission Orange, the Lonely Forest and others.

    For the kids
    And families, don’t forget: Kids’ activities rule every day, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., on the Broad Street side of Seattle Center. That’s where children 12 and younger have a place of their own, the Folklife Commons Kids Area, with music, activities, stories and dancing geared toward families.

    All in all, there are more than 100 Sunday performances scheduled. Find the complete schedule at the Northwest Folklife Web site .

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    May 24, 2008 8:42 PM

    "Yard Dog Blues" by Sassparilla

    Posted by Hilary Buckley

    Portland-based band Sassparilla was just one of the many that played the Northwest Folklife Festival.

    Click here, to visit the band's myspace page.

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    May 24, 2008 7:45 PM

    2 shot at Seattle Center; suspect apprehended

    Posted by Hilary Buckley

    Seattle Times Breaking News Alert:

    2 shot at Seattle Center; suspect apprehended

    At least two people were shot at approximately 6:37 p.m. at the Northwest Folklife Festival at Seattle Center, according to the Seattle Police Department. Police said a suspect was quickly apprehended and both victims were taken to local hospitals with non-life threatening injuries.

    To register for Seattle Times breaking news alerts, click here.

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    May 24, 2008 5:54 PM

    "One for the Ride" by The Hail Seizures

    Posted by Hilary Buckley


    This Olympia-based punk-folk band played the 2008 Northwest Folklife Festival at Seattle Center.

    For more information about The Hail Seizures, visit the band's website at www.hailseizures.net.

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    May 24, 2008 5:07 PM

    Johnny Cash is at the festival ... as Vince Mira

    Posted by Marian Liu

    A nice highlight so far, besides the very charismatic and always excitable Ozomatli, was Vince Mira. His voice stopped me in my tracks. Here was this 16-year-old with Johnny Cash's voice - complete with his bellowing swagger.

    Mira even sang "Ring of Fire." And actually, his EP - "Cash Cabin Sessions" was produced by John Carter Cash, the only child of Johnny and June Carter Cash

    Here's his site - be sure to check this Seattlelite out - www.myspace.com/juannycashmusic

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    May 24, 2008 5:07 PM

    Johnny Cash is at the festival ... as Vince Mira

    Posted by Marian Liu

    A nice highlight so far, besides the very charismatic and always excitable Ozomatli, was Vince Mira. His voice stopped me in my tracks. Here was this 16-year-old with Johnny Cash's voice - complete with his bellowing swagger.

    Mira even sang "Ring of Fire." And actually, his EP - "Cash Cabin Sessions" was produced by John Carter Cash, the only child of Johnny and June Carter Cash

    Here's his site - be sure to check this Seattlelite out - www.myspace.com/juannycashmusic

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    May 24, 2008 3:40 PM

    Hanging out with Mat Brooke, Grand Archives

    Posted by Marian Liu

    Before Grand Archive's set tonight at 6:30 p.m., lead singer Mat Brooke shared some down time with me. He just got to Sasquatch and luckily avoided all the traffic.

    Personable and casual, the previous member Band of Horses and Carissa's Wierd talked about his initial impressions of the festival and was wondering how their brand of indie rock would fare in the festival setting.

    Here's his thoughts:

    For background, here's the Seattle band's site: www.myspace.com/grandarchives. Signed onto Sub Pop Records, Grand Archives has quite a cult following. The band is definitely worth a listen. Think rainy day melancholy music with poppy sun breaks.

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    May 24, 2008 2:33 PM

    Video from the Folklife Festival

    Posted by Hilary Buckley


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    May 24, 2008 2:03 PM

    A good vibe

    Posted by Raina Wagner

    More from Christine Clarridge:

    Northwest Folklife is super crowded today, but the vibe is super mellow. People are lying in the sun, listening to musica, reading and eating. Everyone is friendly.

    A bunch of teens and 20somethings are listening and dancing to the music of the Hail Seizures, an Olympia punk-folk band made up of former Evergreen State College students. They're having a "rent party" in front of the Center House all day today and Sunday.

    Zach Olson, 19, of Mountlake Terrace, called the Hail Seizures, "totally legit -- an original sound," and then bought the band's CD -- and put Hail Seizures that much closer to making rent.

    Check out the Hail Seizures here.

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    May 24, 2008 1:37 PM

    First Impression of the Gorge

    Posted by Marian Liu

    Sitting on the grass, sipping on a slurpee, I now understand why this amphitheatre is out here. You can see out into the gorge - it's breathtaking.

    I'm listening to Dengue Fever at the moment. The Los Angeles Cambodian psychedelic rock band is an acquired taste, but a desert concert is too.

    The view makes the 3 hour drive to Ellensburg from Seattle and the 2 hour drive from Ellensburg here, worth it. (Word of warning - if you drive in to the venue, come in early, and take the first left to park- don't go straight like me, otherwise, you'll end up in the campgrounds!)

    Here's a short video of my view here. The venue is sold out and packed with some 22 thousand folks coming in each day.

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    May 24, 2008 1:00 PM

    Off the stages

    Posted by Raina Wagner

    Everyone who goes to Northwest Folklife knows that some of the best talent is on the street, not on stage. Christine Clarridge found a huge crowd of people enjoying the sidewalk performance of the Sassparilla Jug Band.

    Why did the popular Portland band choose the insurgent route? Said one member: "We enjoy the weather, the crowd and we make more money."

    Still feel the need to listen to this crew on a stage? You can catch them tonight at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard, where the bill starts at 9:30 and the cover is $10. Listen to Sassparilla on MySpace.

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    May 24, 2008 11:51 AM

    The marimba followers

    Posted by Raina Wagner

    More marimba from Christine Clarridge at the Mural Amphitheatre:

    At Northwest Folklife every year, there are a group of marimba fans who follow the mallet music from stage to stage. Today you'll find marimba at the Mural Amphitheatre and the Fountain Lawn Stage -- and Jeff Astle is one of the many running back and forth between them.

    Astle, a Vashon Island worm farmer and wood cutter, said he has heard every single marimba act at every single day of Folklife since he discovered marimba msuic -- and the joy of dancing to it -- 20 years ago.

    "I'd never danced before," Astle said, "but I heard this and I said, 'Excuse me,' and I had to go dance. I've been dancing ever since."

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    May 24, 2008 11:36 AM

    Of sun and marimba music

    Posted by Raina Wagner

    Christine Clarridge is The Times reporter on the Northwest Folklife grounds today, and she has this report from Seattle Center:

    The sun is out and spring-starved Seattleites are in celebration mode, dancing joyfully to the world tunes at the Mural Amphitheatre. Mukana Marimba, a Zimbabwean marimba ensemble, kicked things off with their 11 a.m. set. And to say people are enjoying it would be an understatement.

    More world music follows throughout the day on this stage, one of 16 performance venues that will be popping all day. Eagle's Jump, a Native fusion band, hits the Mural Amphitheatre at 2:10, Rhythm Planet presents world rhythms -- roots beats to groove -- at 6:20, and it caps off with the World Beat Manifesto, a three-hour showcase with Senegalese pop, Celtic bluegrass and good old-fashioned rock 'n' roll from 7 to 10 tonight.

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    May 24, 2008 9:38 AM

    Welcome to the Sasquatch Blog

    Posted by Marian Liu

    sasquatch head.jpg

    After 3 hours of driving through traffic, I am ready for Sasquatch.

    Today, I'm looking forward to watching:

    • Fleet Foxes
    • Grand Archives (I'm also interviewing them today, so stay tuned!)
    • Ozomatli
    • The New Pornographers
    • Modest Mouse

    And don't forget M.I.A. - she holds the distinction of being one of the few rappers on this lineup and is one of my all time favorite artists.

    So far looking good - it's sunny outside.

    Who are you looking forward to today?

    (header courtesy of sasquatchfestival.com)

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    May 24, 2008 1:00 AM

    Ending it all

    Posted by John Hartl

    Suicide has turned up as the subject of an unusual number of festival films this year; four will be screened today. The standout is “Boy A,” a thoughtful British drama about an uphill attempt to rehabilitate a very young ex-prisoner, forcefully played by relative newcomer Andrew Garfield (recognizable as the student who spent much of “Lions For Lambs” being lectured by Robert Redford). “Everything Is Fine,” a French-Canadian film about a teenager whose friends have killed themselves, seems as mopey and self-absorbed as its central character. "Ballast" does a more incisive job of dramatizing the aftermath of a Mississippi suicide, and it has an ending that will have people talking for the rest of the festival. The documentary, “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson,” focuses less on death than it does on the adventures of a journalist who always seemed to be living on the edge.

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    May 24, 2008 12:30 AM

    Today's screenings: May 24

    Posted by Lynn Jacobson

    So John Hartl recommends "My Effortless Brilliance" today. Any other suggestions?

    Egyptian
    11 a.m. — ][“A Man’s Job”
    1:15 p.m. — ][“Mermaid”
    3:45 p.m. — ][“Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson”
    6:30 p.m. — ][“The Children of Huang Shi”
    9:30 p.m. — ][“My Effortless Brilliance”
    Midnight — ][“Epitaph”


    Harvard Exit
    11 a.m. — ][“All Will Be Well”
    1:30 p.m. — ][“Foster Child”
    4 p.m. — ][“Slingshot”
    6:30 p.m. — ][“Chris & Don: A Love Story”
    9:15 p.m. — ][“California Dreamin’ (Endless)”


    Northwest Film Forum
    5 p.m. — ][“Milky Way”
    7 p.m. — ][“Eat, For This is My Body”
    9:30 p.m. — ][“Dust”


    Pacific Place Cinema
    11 a.m. — ][“Continental, A Film Without Guns”
    1:30 p.m. — ][“The Three Little Pigs”
    4:30 p.m. — ][“Ballast”
    7 p.m. — ][“Everything is Fine”
    10 p.m. — ][“Heartbeat Detector”


    SIFF Cinema
    11 a.m. — ][“Nocturna”
    1 p.m. — ][“Hair: Let the Sun Shine In”
    3:30 p.m. — ][“The Red Awn”
    6:30 p.m. — ][“Love and Honor”
    9:30 p.m. — ][“Heavy Metal in Baghdad”


    Uptown
    11 a.m. — ][“Before the Rains”
    1:30 p.m. — ][“Elite Squad”
    4 p.m. — ][“The Home Song Stories”
    7 p.m. — ][“Boy A”
    9:30 p.m. — ][“Transsiberian”

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    May 23, 2008 5:44 PM

    Summit School - Performance at Folklife

    Posted by Liz Langton

    On opening day of the 2008 festival, Summit School of Seattle sang, danced, and played the steel drums. Dance instructor Amelia Bolyard talks about their experience.

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    May 23, 2008 2:14 PM

    'Chris & Don' a different documentary

    Posted by John Hartl


    How do you create a documentary about a decades-long love affair, especially when one of the partners, Christopher Isherwood, died 22 years ago? Guido Santi and Tina Mascara solved the problem by hiring actors to re-enact certain key scenes in “Chris & Don: A Love Story,” which they’re presenting this weekend at the Harvard Exit. “We had photographs but they weren’t emotional,” said Mascara during a Seattle visit with her partner. “Film can create the illusion of feelings, and we wanted to dwell on those moments (such as Isherwood’s first meeting with Don Bachardy) and have them be visual.” Bachardy inspired the project when he showed the filmmakers some remarkably pristine 16mm footage: home movies which they imitated “by shooting a lot of stuff out of focus and handheld,” said Santi. “And we had an actor who really looked like Don,” he added. The result is a unique achievement, even if the filmmakers see room for improvement. “It’s hard to cast Isherwood,” said Mascara.

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    May 23, 2008 2:06 PM

    Rain and showers?

    Posted by Raina Wagner

    That sounds about right for the unofficial start of summer in Seattle … and the first day of the Northwest Folklife Festival at Seattle Center.

    This year's cultural focus, "The Urban Indian," is represented on stages around the fest, which also includes all kinds of music (jazz bands at the Mural Amphitheatre, blues and roots music on the Fountain Lawn stage), dance (belly dance at the Charlotte Martin Theatre, tango, Ukrainian dance and Polynesian dance on the International Dance Stage), and fun activities for kids over on the Broad Street side of Seattle Center. Read a complete schedule here, and our preview stories -- including an interview with the new director -- here.

    Heading to Folklife today despite the clouds? You can post your reaction to early stage shows below. And watch this space all weekend for news, reviews and our picks for each day.

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    May 23, 2008 11:39 AM

    The "Battle" lines are drawn

    Posted by Lynn Jacobson

    The few SIFF gala-goers we've heard from today were none too pleased with either "Battle in Seattle" or the cash-bar party afterward. (See comments below.) But how about the rest of you who were roaring your approval at the film? It's your turn to defend your position.

    Excerpts of comments from readers:

    "This was a great cast of talented actors whose talent has never been more wasted on a lame, predictable screenplay."

    "I certainly will not go to another opening night. They really need to not sell as many tickets or not charge 50 bucks. ... I've certainly seen worse movies, but not that I paid 50 bucks for."

    "I flat-out loved my first SIFF gala event!

    1. The drinks were free
    2. The food was good, varied, and plentiful 3. The movie, 'Son of Rambow,' was an unqualified joy to behold.

    This is my second SIFF gala event. It will very likely be my last.

    1. Fifty bucks for a ticket AND I have to buy my drinks?!?
    2. The food, while good, was scarce, and there were only a few take-it-or-leave-it selections.
    3. The movie was LAME and a trip down Revisionist Lane. What on earth is the point of making a movie based on true events and INVENTING characters such as the mayor? Why not call him 'Paul Schell' and have an actor PORTRAY him? (I hear actors do this "portrayal" thing pretty well if you let them.)"

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    May 23, 2008 7:51 AM

    Let the controversies begin

    Posted by John Hartl


    Every festival has its love-it-or-loathe-it movies, and tonight they’re really out in force. While the tasty costume drama “The Last Mistress” may be the most entertaining movie to date from experimental director Catherine Breillat (“Romance”), some fans feel betrayed by the lack of avant-garde touches. A few festival-goers respect the graphic Hungarian-German lobotomy drama, “Opium,” for its use of silence and stark imagery; I found it a chore to sit through. But it’s hard to imagine anyone who wouldn’t fall in love with the Turkish-German delight, “The Edge of Heaven,” a trippy fable about the generosity of strangers and the frequently absurd coincidences that shape our lives. Your thoughts?

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    May 23, 2008 1:00 AM

    Today's screenings: May 23

    Posted by Lynn Jacobson


    For complete ticket and venue information, see SIFF's Web site.

    Egyptian
    4 p.m. — ][“Vexille”
    6:30 p.m. — ][“The Edge of Heaven”
    9:30 p.m. — ][“The Last Mistress”
    Midnight — ][“The Mother of Tears”


    Harvard Exit
    4:30 p.m. — ][“PVC-1”
    7 p.m. — ][“Opium - Diary of a Madwoman”
    9:30 p.m. — ][“The Wrecking Crew”


    Northwest Film Forum
    7 p.m. — ][“Portraits in Cinema”
    9:30 p.m. — ][“Movie, or An Introduction to the Philosophy of Auteur Filmmaking”


    Pacific Place Cinema
    4:30 p.m. — ][“The Pope’s Toilet”
    7 p.m. — ][“Ballast”
    9:30 p.m. — ][“Continental, A Film Without Guns”


    SIFF Cinema
    4:30 p.m. — ][“Café de Los Maestros”
    6:30 p.m. — ][“The Red Awn”
    9:30 p.m. — ][“Still Life”


    Uptown Cinema
    4:30 p.m. — ][“The Fall”
    7 p.m. — ][“Before the Rains”
    9:30 p.m. — ][“Elite Squad”

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    May 22, 2008 9:55 PM

    Let the party begin

    Posted by Lynn Jacobson

    OK, so let's talk about the SIFF opening-night "gala." For this, I'll enlist the help of my Party Pal.

    Here are some things PP likes about the party this year:

    1. The swag. SIFFsters are handing out VitaminWater and fennel salt and Stella Artois glasses. OK, not too exciting, but free is free, right?

    2. The crowd: mixed and interesting. Running into friends and acquaintances from so many different quadrants of your life makes you realize that movies are a great equalizer.

    And a couple things to which PP strenuously objects:

    1. The $6 charge for drinks -- new this year. This calls into question the value of the $50 ticket: What exactly does this pay for? A chance to stand in (yet another) deadly long line for a couple of crab dumplings?

    2. The all-too-conspicuous VIP tent, which makes a person feel all too keenly that there are people in the world having more fun than the rest of us.


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    May 22, 2008 9:48 PM

    The main event

    Posted by Lynn Jacobson

    I won't critique "Battle in Seattle" here; I'll leave that to the pros. (Or to you? Comment here if you have an opinion.) But I do have something to say about McCaw Hall as a movie theater: It's lousy. The sound is so awful I have to make up a new word to describe it: Muzzy? Fuzzled? It's bad, is all you need to know.

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    May 22, 2008 9:34 PM

    The warm-up

    Posted by Lynn Jacobson

    After the customary, tedious Naming of the Sponsors that always precedes the opening night film at SIFF, director Stuart Townsend came on stage at McCaw Hall. He looked a little stunned, commenting on the size of the theater. And then he talked a bit about the WTO riots that provide the backdrop of his film, "Battle in Seattle." At one point he asked the audience, "Who was there?" Hundreds of hands shot in the air; cheers erupted. Townsend said, "Oh shit." But he shouldn't have worried. For whatever reason (political sympathies? pre-show cocktails?) the audience was predisposed to love the film, and they shouted encouragement every time the protesters in the film scored a victory.

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    May 22, 2008 7:06 PM

    Let the line-standing begin

    Posted by Lynn Jacobson

    It took us three tries to find the right line to get into the opening night screening tonight. Now we're sitting in the very last row of McCaw Hall waiting for "Battle in Seattle" to begin. The place is packed -- people are standing and milling, looking for seats that don't appear to exist. So here goes SIFF 2008 ....l

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    May 22, 2008 9:50 AM

    Prepare to do "Battle"

    Posted by John Hartl

    Three Academy Award winners will be in town for the first weekend of the 34th Seattle International Film Festival, which kicks off tonight at McCaw Hall with "Battle in Seattle," a fictional treatment of the 1999 World Trade Organization protests. Its star, Charlize Theron, who won an Oscar for "Monster," is scheduled to attend. Sir Ben Kingsley ("Gandhi") will be the subject of a tribute at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Egyptian. An Afternoon with F. Murray Abraham ("Amadeus") begins at 2 p.m. Memorial Day at Northwest Film Forum. Although "Battle in Seattle" has not been screened for the local press, it received favorable reviews from Variety ("it mostly works, as a non-didactic portrait of the clash between grassroots activists and the powers-that-be") and The Hollywood Reporter ("these fictional stories show a genuine fascination with the role politics plays on both sides"). SIFF apparently wanted to screen it for critics, but for some reason the distributor said "no." So you be the critic: Come back tomorrow and tell us how you liked it.

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    May 21, 2008 12:09 PM

    Guess who's coming to SIFF?

    Posted by Moira Macdonald

    As always, many of SIFF’s higher-profile offerings are movies that will be opening for a regular run later in the year - and many veteran SIFFgoers make a point of ignoring those movies, planning on catching them later. But here’s a reason for an early look: Many of those movies arrive at the festival with a chatty director in tow, and those post-screening Q & As can make great SIFF memories.

    A few samples for opening weekend: Guido Santi and Tina Mascara (which is, for the record, my new favorite filmmaker name) will be in town this weekend with their lovely documentary “Chris & Don: A Love Story,” the first SIFF film this season to make me cry. It’s about the longtime relationship of writer Christopher Isherwood (whose work inspired “Cabaret”) and artist Don Bachardy, and the filmmakers will be present for screenings Saturday at 6:30 and Sunday at 1:15, both at Harvard Exit. Yung Chang will be here with his documentary “Up the Yangtze,” about the impact of construction and change on China’s Yangtze River and Three Gorges Dam. The film, a recent prizewinner at festivals in Vancouver and San Francisco and a grand prize nominee at Sundance, screens Sunday at 7:15 and Monday at 4, both at Pacific Place.

    Roger Spottiswoode (“Tomorrow Never Dies” “And the Band Played On”) will attend with his drama “The Children of Huang Shi,” based on the true story of a 1930s expedition to rescue 60 orphaned Chinese children. It screens 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Egyptian and 1:30 p.m. Monday at the Uptown. And of course, this weekend’s biggest name is Sir Ben Kingsley, who’ll be gracing the Egyptian at 2p.m. Sunday for a single screening of his new drama “Elegy,” directed by Isabel Coixet.


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    May 20, 2008 10:21 AM

    An informal Fest test

    Posted by Lynn Jacobson

    I just quizzed my movie-going pals here at The Times about their most and least favorite SIFF opening-night films ever. The crummy ones are naturally the easiest to remember -- from the unimpressive ("The Anniversary Party," 2001) to the hotly debated ("Love's Labour's Lost," 2000) to the truly egregious ("The Notebook," 2004). Longtime movie critic John Hartl has been carrying around the disturbing memory of "Chicago Joe and the Showgirl" since 1990 ("pretty disastrous," he says). Some that make the favorites list: "Me and You and Everyone We Know" and "The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum." But you must have your own best and worst list. Care to share?

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    May 19, 2008 9:10 AM

    Opening is almost closed

    Posted by Lynn Jacobson

    Speaking of opening night, I just talked to someone at SIFF who told me that tickets for this Thursday's local premiere of "Battle in Seattle" and the after-party are off sale, because they're nearly gone. That doesn't mean a few more won't be released beforehand: Keep checking SIFF's Web site for details. There may even be some rush tickets available right before the show. In any case, it's going to be a full house. And it looks like the crowd won't be disappointed: Both Variety and the Hollywood Reporter have given "Battle" good reviews. Can't vouch for it myself, unfortunately, since the distributor -- for some reason -- has declined to screen the movie in advance for press here.

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    May 18, 2008 2:00 AM

    You gotta have a plan

    Posted by Lynn Jacobson

    Today in The Seattle Times, movie critic Moira Macdonald suggests various SIFF "itineraries" -- helping you choose which of the hundreds of movies to see based on your special interests.

    Me? I like a party, so I'm starting with the opening night gala. But you may have your own siff game plan. If you want to share it with readers, add a comment below. Or take a minute to ask Moira or John Hartl's advice about movies you're thinking of seeing. Between the two of them, they've already watched dozens of this year's festival entries in early press screenings, so they can point you toward some of the gems.

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    May 7, 2008 4:19 PM

    Get ready for SIFF!

    Posted by Lynn Jacobson

    The Seattle International Film Festival is gearing up again, and you can use this blog as your source of information about festival happenings, especially when it kicks into gear on May 22. PIck up a Seattle Times festival guide at any SIFF venue for a complete rundown on all the movies at SIFF this year; you can also find info on the films and buy tickets at siff.net.

    For an overview of this year's festival, check out Moira Macdonald's story here.

    So run out, get your guide, and we'll see you at the festival!

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