"Cinema Served Hot" Alex Watches Movies

Hello, fellow Seattleites! For the past few months, I’ve dedicated a lot of time collaboratively marketing over 400 features and short films for the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). This year, the festival celebrates its 45th anniversary, continuing its legacy as being the largest, longest, and most-attended film festival in the country. Aside from all of that, SIFF is just a really cool organization. Their primary focus this year was featuring films directed by women and women in comedic roles, a space that has been disproportionately geared toward men. Last week I had the opportunity to attend the festival’s opening night, a surprisingly glamorous and exciting event, with people dressed in gowns, tuxes, and even cosplay. I wanted to share the amazing opportunities the festival offers this year, including a new Awkwafina film and a tribute to Regina Hall--yes, that Regina Hall, from Scary Movie and Girls Trip.


As a testament to the focused inclusion of women this year, SIFF chose an opening-night film directed by a Seattle native, Lynn Shelton. The film centers around a lesbian couple who go back home to Alabama after a death in the family in which they come across a sword with a Civil War-related backstory. The film explores their relationship as they go through hilarious event after event trying to sell the sword. Surprisingly, the movie never loses its light-hearted mood, even while tackling some larger issues related to race and politics. The movie, called Sword of Trust, is indicative of the whole vibe of SIFF this year. It was refreshing to see two queer women as the centerpiece and anchor of the film, and it makes me (and hopefully you!) excited for the events to come.


Regina Hall is being awarded Achievement in Film this year, and she will speaking to an audience, taking questions, and introducing one of her newer films The Hate U Give. Personally, I am so excited for Regina Hall to be in Seattle. She was absolutely hilarious in the Scary Movie franchise, and in Girls Trip she extended that streak of comedy to a film that centered on four black women as they revive their friendships. Regina sees her time in comedy as pivotal to her development as an actress, an opportunity to show the world that black women are hilarious and not to be typecast. She will be in Seattle on June 2nd at the Egyptian Theatre in Capitol Hill.


Then there’s The Farewell. Chosen intentionally as the closing-night film of the festival, the Awkwafina-featuring film centers on a Chinese family’s ethical dilemma when their family’s matriarch is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. The film explores the cultural difference between Chinese and American interpretation of end-of-life care, and the best way to handle it. Culturally relevant and unique, the film will close out the festival on a high note. Awkwafina has been praised for her first performance as lead actress, and I think it’s important for the world to see the way that culture can inform the way we see our families, what we share, and what we keep secret. Lulu Wang, director the film, keeps the semi-autobiographical story dear to her, a feeling that will undoubtedly be shared by viewers both at SIFF and worldwide when it gets theatrically released. Like Regina Hall’s tribute, the film will also be played at the Egyptian Theatre on June 9th.


While this might be a shameless plug, I really believe SIFF is making an effort as a huge organization to shift focus towards the stories of women. The experience of opening night felt flashy (because of the gowns), but the feeling was one of inclusion and diversity. I felt genuine pride seeing the work we’ve done at SIFF come to fruition all in one night, as people came from all over the world to see what we put together. In the most real way, SIFF is a massive undertaking, but did not feel like one to me. It felt light and empowering, especially as I could see the stories of many different artists come together under the same roof for the same event. These artists are telling stories that have never been told, that are now going to be broadcast to thousands of people, positioning women’s stories at the forefront of viewers’ minds and hearts. I think the festival experience can be shared and appreciated by anyone. I hope some of you Seattle folks can make it to some of the movies, but most importantly, I hope we can commit to sharing the stories of women, and continuing to mount female platforms as much as we can. If anything, it’s necessary right now.


P.S. Here’s a link to the trailer for The Farewell. I don’t know about you, but I definitely teared up watching. Happy Festival!