The red carpet, ready for its closeup.
  • Adrian Ryan
  • The red carpet, ready for its closeup.

The 40th ever Seattle International Film Festival lies thick and heavy upon us, and last night’s Red Carpet Opening Night Gala was definitely a thing that just happened! In a word: bow ties. (Mine was a handmade custom design by designer/costumer Pakio Galore and everyone else’s was not, poor everyone else.)

As promised, the carpet was properly red (see above), the vodka was properly vodka-ing, Nancy Guppy was glib and annoying, and I’m pretty sure I smelled Seattle’s Only Movie Star™ Tom Skerritt once or twice (an unmistakable combination of steel magnolias and danger zone), but no visual confirmation was made. First time ever! Celebritologists agree that he probably went home to snuggle in his footie jammies and watch reruns of Golden Girls before his strict 9 p.m. bedtime. (He is older than trees, you know…) And the rest of the stars were clearly far too busy not attending to attend. Where’s Parker Posey? Where’s Janeane Garofalo? Where’s the ghost of John Cassavetes? I ask you.

Are movies not about famous people anymore? Like actors and actresses and people that you’ve actually heard of? Did I miss some crucial memo? A mystery.

This year’s opener was called Jimi: All Is by My Side, and it was about the early adventures of that guitar-playing statue down on the south end of Broadway. Andre 3000 (née André Lauren Benjamin) starred as Jimi, but he was anywhere but there. The director John Ridley was in attendance though, and he won an Oscar like 10 minutes ago which is exciting, but I’d never heard of him, so, you know. I blew right past him on the red carpet without a clue. However! I must say his baldness was looking quite sexy indeed as he expressed his seemingly endless gratitude (start the damn movie already!) and verbally masturbated the sponsors, the SIFF board, and our big throbbing civic ego. As one must.

Mayor McGayor held himself together rather well during the film’s introduction, considering it was his first time ever, and he let us all know that his favorite movie in history is Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand . Whoa! Didn’t see that one coming. I miss Mike McGinn. Mmmm, beardy.

I had spoken to Seattle’s darling/star director Lynn Shelton before the party and she assured me that she’d “be there with bells on!” She was there all right. But you guessed it, no bells. Rather disappointing, frankly. Can anyone be trusted?

Oh! And Hayley Atwell was there, too! Yeah, I’ve never heard of her either. But she was lovely, and quite British, and she played Keith Richards's cheating girlfriend some girlfriend of Jimi's or other in the film. She was also appropriately eternally grateful. Most importantly, I got at least three quarters of the way through the movie before sneaking out for a few shots of anything. A personal best!

I must confess: How I do long for the SIFF I once knew, those glittering gravy days of yore! All the world was your VIP room and you found yourself veritably dripping in célébrité: Jeff Goldblum, Brian Singer, Mandy Moore, Jennifer Beals, Ian McKellen! My goodness! Even just last year, they gave us the great Buffy-making geek god Joss Whedon and his cohort, the beautiful and deliciously quirky Amy Acker. And even though the opening film (a hit-or-miss affair, per tradition) was a something-something Shakespeare snoozefest, at least one could rubber one’s neck to gawk at the lovely and famous. The films can go hang: SIFF is all about the PARTIES! And the parties are all about the CELERITIES! (And the vodka.) And if you ain’t got the star power? Well. The vodka becomes all that much more important.

Doesn’t it.