1. Opening Night Gala: Much Ado About Nothing
May 16 at 7, McCaw Hall (standby tickets available)
Joss Whedon's adaptation of the Shakespeare comedy features more than a few Buffy and Angel alum and was shot entirely at Whedon's house in Los Angeles. Whedonites are so jazzed to see the director and cast at the opening night gala, tickets sold out in a day. (Sigh.) More here.
2. Touchy Feely
May 23 at 7, Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center; May 25 at 1:30, Egyptian Theatre
Lynn Shelton's latest debuted this year at Sundance and stars Rosemarie DeWitt as a massage therapist who suddenly can't stand bodily contact. Reviews have pegged Touchy Feely as heavier than Shelton's past work, but then again, isn't everything heavier than a comedy about two buddies making an amateur porn?
3. The Way, Way Back
May 25 at 6:30, SIFF Cinema Uptown, film and party; May 26 at 4:30, Egyptian Theatre
Not only is this comedy penned by two of the stud screenwriters of The Descendants, but the ensemble cast is ridiculous: Steve Carell as...well, a jerk; Sam Rockwell as a water park instructor; Allison Janney, Toni Collette, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry, that guy from Ben and Kate... all surrounding a teenage boy (Liam James) who's coming-of-age summer gets much better when he starts working for Rockwell.
4. We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks
May 17 at 6, May 18 at 11am; SIFF Cinema Uptown
Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney has taken on Enron and the U.S. Army (and is working on a Lance Armstrong doc), so it's no surprise that WikiLeaks hacker Julian Assange was on his radar. Assange plays the antihero, naturally, but based on early reviews, it sounds like the surprise star of the documentary is Army Private Bradley Manning, the semisympathetic soldier accused of disclosing thousands of classified military reports.
5. Decoding Annie Parker
June 2, Egyptian Theatre, benefit screening for UW's King Lab
From SIFF: "Starring Helen Hunt and Samantha Morton, this is the amazing true story of UW geneticist Mary-Claire King and her world-changing discovery of the BRCA1 breast cancer gene. Special benefit screenings will support the fight against breast cancer." Editor's note: Trailer may make you cry.
BONUS! An Evening with Kyle MacLachlan (featuring the Twin Peaks pilot)
June 3 at 7:30, SIFF Cinema Uptown
We see Yakima native Kyle MacLachlan plenty these days, thanks to his reoccurring role as the mayor of Portland on Portlandia, but this is a special occasion. MacLachlan will be in town to receive SIFF's Outstanding Achievement in Acting award, followed by an onstage interview and audience Q&A, clips from his career, and a screening of the David Lynch pilot that made him famous, Twin Peaks.
6. Our Nixon
May 18 at 7, May 19 at 1:30; Harvard Exit
A documentary composed of stitched-together Super 8 footage from President Nixon's top three White House aides: H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and Dwight Chapin. The FBI seized their loving home movies during Watergate and the tapes have been on lock down or in storage...until now. This is director and coproducer Penny Lane's first feature-length documentary. What a way to start.
7. Closing Night Gala: The Bling Ring
June 9 at 6:30, Seattle Cinerama
After three weeks and some 450 films, SIFF 2013 closes with the North American premiere of Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring. Starring a saucy, post-Harry Potter Emma Watson and based on a true story, this crime drama follows a posse of LA teens–turned–amateur thieves who lifted millions in jewelry and designer goods from celebrity homes in 2008 and 2009.