Discover 50 years of the Seattle International Film Festival’s rich history with this series featuring some of the films that have made a lasting impression on our staff and long-time passholders.
The films in our second leg of the 50 Years of SIFF series represent some of the films that our staff and long-time passholders couldn’t forget–those experiences that meant something then, and continue to mean something years and decades later. Whether you’re a seasoned Festival-goer ready to rewatch old favorites or are a new cinema explorer, join us to discover 50 years of SIFF’s rich film exhibition history from February 23 to March 10 at the Egyptian: siff.net/50years.
"When one thinks of a haunted house, the image that most often comes to mind is an isolated, abandoned mansion of either Victorian or Gothic design, ancient in its construction. Poltergeist flipped that genre trope on its head: the Freeling family home is a brand new piece of suburban tract, cookie cutter in its design. And yet, it is home (pun intended) to one of the best horror films from the ‘80s. Of course, countless rumors have swirled around the film for years, most notably the question of who was the chief creative force behind the camera: producer Steven Spielberg or director Tobe Hooper. For me, Poltergeist is the perfect synthesis of the two, combining the gleeful terror found in Hooper’s best work with Spielberg’s sense of wonder and the fantastic. It is, also, one of the most iconic films to have premiered at SIFF."—Dan Doody, Seattle International Film Festival Programmer
"'Why can't you just be normal?!' A hundred horror-as-trauma narratives would follow (a worthy pursuit, IMO) to varying degrees of success, but The Babadook planted its flag at just the right time to achieve landmark status, introduce iconography that breezily bled into the zeitgeist, and position Jennifer Kent as an uncompromising and polarizing new filmmaker."—Marcus Gorman, Seattle International Film Festival Programmer
"Director Jennifer Kent wields one of the most relatable experiences out there (grief/trauma) and manifests a dreadfully daring icon of fear before your very eyes in her debut feature. If you like authentic horror or you wanna be shook, you definitely have to watch The Babadook."—Cory Rodriguez, Seattle International Film Festival Programmer
"This mesmerizing documentary had me from start to surprising finish, and it hasn’t left my list of favorite documentaries since. One of my favorite-ever Festival memories is doing the Q&A with director Jeff Malmberg at the Harvard Exit, and us calling the subject (who is quite the character, you'll discover) on Jeff’s cell phone and putting it up to the mic for the audience to hear."—Clare Garvin, SIFF Associate Director of Digital Marketing (and former Seattle International Film Festival programmer)
"What can I say about Lynn Shelton, and Your Sister’s Sister? Lynn had a command of the story like few directors did, and that understanding of where the story was going to go allowed her actors to live in it, to take their characters deeper, and to create new avenues into Lynn’s vision. Her love and care for everyone involved with the production comes through in every frame of this film: the relationships, the humor, the free range of emotional vulnerability that makes even the darkest moment somehow mean more, and feel a little lighter for having happened."—Beth Barrett, SIFF Artistic Director
"The polar opposite of Aki Kaurasmaki in Norwegian movies. Imaginative, fun and very chill…(because of the snow)."—Vince Miller, Fool Serious member
"Following its 2002 release in China, Hero was a blockbuster that every American cinephile was desperate to see. Miramax secured US distribution rights, and then sat on the film for nearly two years. Its SIFF premiere screening at Ciner… er, SIFF Cinema Downtown was a jam-packed affair—an epic SIFF moment for a film of epic scope—and I was fortunate enough to be there. This is easily my favorite 21st Century film from Mainland China." —Dan Doody, Seattle International Film Festival Programmer
"The reason I chose Hero is because I think it has some of the most beautiful fight choreography ever put on screen and it is also a brilliant tribute to Rashomon through its conflicting perspectives."—Carson Rennekamp, SIFF Development & Membership Manager
"The Pillow Book is a visually stunning, erotic Peter Greenaway film, about a young woman who seeks sexual fulfillment through physical pleasure as well as through poetry, written in calligraphy on her body."—Bic Wong, Fool Serious member
"When I heard that Peter Greenaway (whose films changed my life in college) had a new film, and that it starred Ewan McGregor, well. That was that. I happily sat for hours on end on the wooden seats in the balcony for the film and extended Q&A with Peter Greenaway, and was transported."—Beth Barrett, SIFF Artistic Director
"Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil is a thought-provoking examination of the horrifying phenomenon of suicide pacts. Our two eponymous friends are trying to enjoy a weekend at their dream cabin, but they are relentlessly traumatized by a group of college kids who seem intent on killing themselves in front of them. Either that, or it is one big misunderstanding."—Patrick Tousignant, Fool Serious member
"For the beauty and majesty that is Istanbul...said only one person ever. To quote Andrew Lloyd Webber, 'it's about cats,' and this documentary brilliantly illustrates how humans and cats have evolved to live in near-perfect symbiosis even if neither species has been fully successful in their efforts to domesticate the other."—Dan Doody, Seattle International Film Festival Programmer