Seattle International Film Festival: 33 years of movies and popcorn

The 33rd Seattle International Film Festival opens on Thursday, May 24, with a gala party at McCaw Hall in the Seattle Center. On Friday, May 25, the lines start up as the festival swings into full gear.

Even if you have $800 for a full series pass, trust an experienced SIFF junkie when I tell you that you can't see everything. You don't even want to see everything-at some point after the fourth or fifth movie in a row, the mind numbs, the eyes glaze and nothing (not even the best of Lars von Trier) seems worthwhile.

Besides, it really isn't possible to sustain the body on hot coffee and popcorn-although many of us have tried it.

Instead, take out that magic marker, grab a SIFF schedule, and create your own light fandango through the SIFF films of this Memorial Day Weekend.

Since the Capitol Hill theaters are all within walking distance, I'm sticking to the Hill for my SIFF voyages of discovery. I'm only doing back-to-back shows in the same venue. When I have a break between films, it's easy to grab a bite on the hike between the Egyptian and the Harvard Exit or the longer stroll between the Harvard Exit and the Northwest Film Forum.

Being fond of music and documentaries, the back-to-back screenings of feature film "This is England!" (summer among the skinheads circa 1983) and the documentary "Girls Rock!" (about a Portland rock-and-roll camp) should make a good double bill at the Harvard Exit on Friday. "This is England!" screens at 4:30 p.m. and "Girls Rock!" starts at 7:00 p.m.

Assuming that I get a good night's sleep on Friday, making the 11 a.m. Screenwriter's Salon on the Northwest Film Forum should be easy on Saturday. The salons and forums are always great fun-this is where you can learn how movies are made, rub elbows with fellow film enthusiasts, and maybe even have your genius discovered!

From there, it's an easy roll down the Hill to catch the 2 p.m. Saturday screening of "Gunga Din" at the Egyptian. This fantastic swashbuckler, made in 1939, teamed Cary Grant, Victor McLagen, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr, not only showing off their athletic prowess but also their terrific comic timing. Politically correct it is not-but black-and-white adventure never looked so good.

Devoting Sunday to the environment, I'm checking out the maritime documentary "Life Among the Whales" at 4:30 p.m. at the Harvard Exit. And then, I'll stick around for "Manufactured Landscapes" at 7 p.m., also at the Harvard Exit on Sunday. This documentary follows still photographer Edward Burtynsky as he takes massive photographs of the changes that man has wrought upon the earth. Visually stunning, even in short previews, and enormously depressing, this film is being promoted as the "Inconvenient Truth" of 2007.

One big joy of SIFF is always seeing the world from other cultures' perspectives and I need at least one subtitled film per weekend. So I'm declaring Monday my international day!

"Paris je t'aime" brings together 18 different directors, including Gus Van Sant and Gerard Depardieu, to write their own cinematic love letter to the City of Light. It plays at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 28 at the Harvard Exit.

At 6:30 p.m. at the same SIFF theater, same SIFF date, it's intrigue Egyptian style at "The Yacoubian Building" when the lives of the residents of once-elegant, now-shabby highrise cross in unexpected ways.

My weekend festival might or might not be all your thing-but there are lots of other choices out there for some movie madness that doesn't involve either Spiderman or Pirates. Check out the full schedule at for even more.

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