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Updated Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 04:30 PM

SIFF’s Women in Cinema festival opens

By Moira Macdonald
Seattle Times movie critic

Hello again, Women in Cinema — nice to see you back. WiC, presented as a stand-alone mini-festival by the Seattle International Film Festival, got its start back in 1996 and ran until 2002 before ceasing operations. Now it’s returned, starting Wednesday at the Uptown.

Though SIFF director of programming, Beth Barrett, was careful to point out that women directors are a significant part of the organization’s main festival (73 films directed by women were shown at SIFF 2012; about 20 percent of the fest’s total), she’s ready to celebrate WiC’s return and points to the diversity of its offerings. “We wanted to really showcase the films coming out right now made by women, in so many different genres,” she said. “Women don’t just make romantic comedies!”

“Being able to spotlight these films in a stand-alone festival again was always our goal when we opened year-round theatrical programming,” said Barrett. SIFF began its year-round programming in 2007, but only had one screen until 2011, when it moved into the SIFF Film Center and took over the lease at the three-screen Uptown. “Now we have the ability to really go for it.”

WiC opens Wednesday with the local premiere of “Hannah Arendt,” directed by veteran German filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta (“The Lost Honor of Katarina Blum”) and starring Barbara Sukowa, with whom von Trotta has worked since the ’80s. “It’s celebrating a female filmmaker, and Barbara as an actress, and Hannah Arendt herself — a philosopher in a traditionally male field,” said Barrett. She also noted that the festival has a German presenting sponsor, the fashion company OSKA, so it’s a good fit to open with a German film.

The festival will continue through Saturday with six additional features, two documentaries, a package of international short films and a special panel discussion, presented with the nonprofit Women in Film Seattle. The panel, taking place on Saturday at 10 a.m., is a free event (reservations are requested, at siff.net) spotlighting women working behind the camera — assistant directors, production managers, cinematographers, key grips, etc. “Our hope is that people come to learn a little bit about what they do,” said Barrett, “and really that younger people come, especially younger women, to learn that they can work in any field in filmmaking.”

In addition to the panelists, WiC will present two filmmaker guests. Writer/director Catriona McKenzie will host Q&A sessions following the two screenings of her debut feature, “Satellite Boy,” a drama about an Aboriginal boy living in a rundown drive-in cinema in the western Australian outback. Documentarian Nisha Pahuja will be Skyped in for two Q&A sessions following screenings of “The World Before Her,” which follows three young women in India: two beauty-pageant contestants, one member of a fundamentalist group.

Other highlights of the festival: the coming-of-age tale “Ginger & Rosa” from Sally Potter (“Orlando”); Deepa Mehta’s “Midnight’s Children,” which Salman Rushdie adapted from his novel; “Vanishing Waves,” which Barrett describes as “an Estonian science-fiction erotic fever dream”; and “Love, Marilyn,” Liz Garbus’ documentary that uses multiple actresses and never-before-seen diaries and papers to create a unique portrait of Marilyn Monroe.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

Festival preview

Women in Cinema

Wednesday through Sunday, SIFF Cinema at the Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N., Seattle. Festival passes, which include an opening-night reception, are $60 ($40 for SIFF members); individual films are $11 ($6). For a full schedule, see www.siff.net or call 206-324-9996.



Alice Englert, left, and Elle Fanning in Sally Potter’s “Ginger & Rosa.”





Catriona McKenzie’s “Satellite Boy,” set in the Australian outback.





Deepa Mehta’s “Midnight’s Children” was adapted by Salman Rushdie from his novel.




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