SIFF Starts Tomorrow, People.

By BookNerd May 20, 2009

[Hi... this is actually BookNerd. I've temporary left my post to fill in with some early SIFF coverage.]

FilmNerd (the real FilmNerd) will be giving you the big scoop on the fest, but here are my Top 3 picks so far, based on the load of screeners I've watched over the past week. 


Bluebeard, provocative French director Catherine Breillat's adaptation of the classic story, is sweet and menacing--just the way I like my fairy tales. It's taken pretty directly from Charles Perrault's 1697 version, with a few twists.
  Two sisters--the pretty, older one and the clever, younger one--are sent home from boarding school, destitute after their father dies. On the way, they pass Bluebeard's Castle. "Who built that castle?" they ask. "Bluebeard," says the coachman. The younger sister remarks on how the poor work to make beautiful things for the rich, then adds, "I want to live there," which, as we know from the story, she ends up doing.

Breillat keeps the fairy tale portion spare and poetic, and she uses a clever framing device that, while a bit jarring, nicely sets up the theme of dangerous sibling rivalry.

Bluebeard plays on May 24 (Egyptian, 1:30 p.m.) and May 27 (SIFF Cinema, 9:15 p.m.).

(Fairy tale fans should also check out Hansel and Gretel, from South Korea. A young guy named Eun-soo gets in a car accident near a mysterious forest. When he's rescued by a spooky little girl who leads him to a cottage with a sign "The House of Happy Children," it's clear that things are not going to end well.)

Beket is about what I would expect an Italian movie "loosely based" on Waiting for Godot--techno-pop dancing on a post-apocalypic wasteland, a casually decrepit Garden of Eden (Eve complains; Adam says, "Hey, I'm just a DJ."), and a cowboy who sings:

"Ice creams are good
but they cost millions.
Ice creams are good
but they cost millions.
Working depresses me
and keeps me on tenderhooks.
But if I go out to dinner
I get a cherry flavored ice cream.
Ice cream is my comfort."

If you're up for an art film and a bit of absurdist nonsense, this is a good choice.

Beket plays at Northwest Film Forum on May 22 (9 p.m.) and May 23 (7 p.m.)

School Days With a Pig, based on a true story, is sort of a must-see for anyone who cares about food, or who's into the debate about food and animals.

A sixth-grade teacher in Japan walks into class one day with a piglet: "Cute, huh? I'm thinking of [us] raising this pig together then eating it in the end. What do humans need to stay alive?"
Student: "Life."
Teacher: "Life, right."
Student: "Food."
Teacher: "Right. If we don't eat, we'll die. We eat other living things. I want you to get a sense of what that really means."

The kids build a pen for the pig on the playground, name her P-chan, and play soccer with her. As graduation approaches, though, they have to figure out if they will really be able to send her to the "meat center." The young actors are convincing, and the level of discussion on both sides is so thoughtful that when they finally do make their decision, it really means something.

School Days With a Pig plays on May 28 (Egyptian, 4:30 p.m.) and May 31 (Pacific Place, 9:15 p.m.).

For tickets visit the SIFF website or the box office kiosk on the 2nd floor of Pacific Place.
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