Hirokazu Kore-eda, one of the greatest directors in the world according to Charles Mudede, is scheduled to attend both screenings of his new work, After the Storm, on Friday and Saturday.

This is the first full weekend of the Seattle International Film Festival. You can find our complete SIFF guide here, which has showtimes, trailers, and ticket links for each of the 400 films playing at the festival, as well as critics' picks and reviews. You can also find a short list of can't-miss films during the full festival here, but if you're just looking for the best movies to see this weekend, you're in the right place. Below, you'll find everything from an archival presentation of the Marx Brothers' second movie, Animal Crackers, to the animated delicacy Ethel & Ernest, and from The Farthest, a documentary about 1977's Voyager mission, to Hello Destroyer, a feature debut that won numerous Canadian film awards. Click through the links below for full movie times, trailers, and ticket links. The ones with the highest rating ("don't miss") are marked with an asterisk (*).


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FRIDAY ONLY

Anishoara
It’s hard not to be charmed by Anishoara’s old-world, quiet beauty. It begins with an adorable elderly man speaking directly into the camera, telling a mythological tale of a woman’s longing. The cinematography of the Eastern European countryside is gorgeous, and while it’s set in current times, it feels like a decades-old time capsule. The old people sing folk songs from a distant era; the young people load watermelons into a truck with joyful camaraderie. There is little speaking, instead using lingering shots of the characters’ faces to tell the story of a beautiful young woman’s coming of age. (TRACIE LOUCK)
Lincoln Square Cinemas

*Goldstone
A bedraggled outback cop (Aaron Pedersen) is sent to investigate a missing-person case in a small mining town, and, in the best noir tradition, quickly stumbles into a whole nest of vipers. Writer/director Ivan Sen’s stand-alone sequel to his earlier Mystery Road is exceedingly well-crafted, smuggling some potent themes underneath its drum-tight narrative. A fantastic example of genre filmmaking, chock-full of shady people doing shady things, cars vrooming through breathtakingly wide open spaces, and a brilliantly staged shoot-out in a maze of industrial trailers. All this, plus Jacki Weaver as a suspiciously burbly mayor, to boot. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
SIFF Cinema Uptown

Moka
After escaping from a sanatorium, a bereaved Swiss woman (Emmanuelle Devos) resumes her search for those responsible for an unsolved family tragedy. (The title refers to a particular shade of car paint.) When the trail leads her to a seemingly mundane couple residing on the gorgeous shores of Lake Geneva, the slow burn begins. Director Frédéric Mermoud’s splendidly modulated cat-and-mouse story keeps upping the psychological stakes, aided by Devos’s tremulously feral central performance. Both gratifyingly dark and unexpectedly moving, with a last shot that hits like a ton of bricks. Patricia Highsmith would approve, which says it all, really. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
Lincoln Square Cinemas & SIFF Cinema Uptown

The Winter
The barely-goings-on at a huge, remote sheep ranch in Patagonia, very far from anywhere and anybody. The seasonal workers herd and shear sheep, and there is an uneasy relationship between the old overseer and a new ranch hand—with the older man seeing that his usefulness there is coming to an end. The film is slow and meditative, moving through the seasons of the ranch and how this place entangles the people living there. The actors are quiet but powerful, and the wild landscape and isolation give the story a worthy eeriness. (GILLIAN ANDERSON)
Majestic Bay

FRIDAY-SATURDAY

After the Storm
Hirokazu Kore-eda is one of the greatest directors in the world. His 1998 After Life is a masterpiece of 1990s cinema. That’s all you need to know about his new work, After the Storm, which is not too slow, too beautiful, too funny, too charming, too sad, and is not about much at all—there is a broken man, a death in the family, lots of old people in a quiet neighborhood, and very little money to go around. Drink a little sake before watching this film, which, like room-temperature sake, will make you all warm inside. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
SIFF Cinema Uptown & SIFF Cinema Egyptian

*Chavela
Chavela introduces American audiences to the eponymous Chavela Vargas, a Costa Rica–born Mexican ranchera singer who rose to fame (and infamy) in the 1940s. The film documents the artist’s solitude as a semi-closeted lesbian in macho Mexico and her struggle with alcoholism, all while dazzling audiences with Vargas’s powerful and soul-crushing performances. Director Catherine Gund blends frank and funny interviews with Vargas in 1992 with evocative glimpses into the artist onstage, and also sit-downs with those who know and love her. She died in 2012. If you thought mariachi bands were the only musical export Mexico had to offer, Chavela is here to remind you how wrong you are. (ANA SOFIA KNAUF)
SIFF Cinema Uptown & Pacific Place

Dawson City: Frozen Time
Artist Bill Morrison performs another aesthetically astonishing excavation of cinema’s past, piecing together a strange history from some 500 nitrate-stock films that were buried in subarctic territory in the Yukon. What can’t be recovered, however, is the First Nations hunting camp that rampant gold prospecting effectively displaced. The birth of commercial cinema (large-scale projectors, movie theaters) becomes, in this bizarre but true tale of one of the 20th century’s casualties of manifest destiny, a death of ritual for the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in tribe. (JAY KUEHNER)
SIFF Film Center

*The Farthest
Now that we’re stuck with an administration that has nothing but disdain for science, a documentary about 1977’s Voyager mission seems more nostalgic—and necessary—than ever. After all, it was in 1972, under soon-to-be-disgraced President Richard Nixon, that the project came into being. Each probe contained a golden record with greetings and songs for aliens that might be encountered while exploring Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and beyond. Scientists involved with the project talk about the thinking behind it, which can get jargony, but their passion generates a warm glow—until the reality of 2017 sinks in again. (KATHY FENNESSY)
Majestic Bay & SIFF Cinema Uptown

Food Evolution
How do we cope with a crisis of public trust in science? This is the question at the heart of Food Evolution, Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s competent new documentary on the debate over the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food. Unobtrusively narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Evolution tracks the global fallout from Hawaii County’s 2013 ban on GM crops, and makes a convincing case that biotechnology has been a force for good in agriculture. But amid a relentless barrage of evidence, the film struggles to avoid a pedantic tone it acknowledges has done little to change public opinion. “We don’t make decisions based on facts, we make decisions based on our gut,” says journalist Tamar Hesper. What’s largely missing here is any attempt to appeal to this deeply human tendency. (ETHAN LINCK)
Pacific Place & SIFF Cinema Uptown

Give Me Future
With relations between the United States and Cuba on the rise, the Caribbean-inspired dancehall band Major Lazer decide to hold a concert for their newly accessible fans in Havana. What they discover when they get there may forever wreck the concept of personal-space bubbles. No great shakes as a music documentary, really, with a first half full of pleasant yet unrevealing looks at the band’s roots. Once the concert actually begins, however, the sheer size of the audience, and the way that the visibly startled performers feed off of its collective energy, is honestly something to see. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
SIFF Cinema Uptown & Majestic Bay

Nowhere to Hide
There are some places in Iraq where you just don’t want to be. That’s at least how American soldiers understood it when they dubbed a region south of Baghdad the “Triangle of Death.” The sectarian violence, primarily targeted at civilians, was that bad. But when American forces pulled out of Iraq, Iraqi Norwegian filmmaker Zaradasht Ahmed decided to teach Nori Sharif, a nurse originally from the “Triangle of Death,” how to make a documentary. Sharif agreed to film his friends and neighbors. But Sharif’s story changes when he begins to see more plumes of black smoke from the Jalawla hospital where he works. Sharif and his family become the subject of the documentary as violence from ISIS and various militia groups creeps closer. The footage captured by Sharif is unlike any you’ve seen, and the question he keeps asking himself lingers: “I don’t understand this war,” he says. So who does? Who’s behind it? And why? People with different answers to these questions are still killing civilians caught in the middle of it all. (SYDNEY BROWNSTONE)
SIFF Film Center

FRIDAY & SUNDAY

Ethel & Ernst
An animated delicacy about the small lives of decent, ordinary British white people who live out a quiet working-class existence while the 20th century roils around them, this adaptation of Raymond Briggs’s graphic memoir of his parents’ lives is both humble and profound, with gorgeous renderings of Briggs’s justly famous lines. Featuring the voices of Jim Broadbent and Brenda Blethyn. (SEAN NELSON)
Pacific Place & SIFF Cinema Uptown

SATURDAY ONLY

Animal Crackers
A priceless painting disappears during a lavish party for Captain Spaulding (Groucho Marx). Things get weird. The Marx Brothers’ second movie is admittedly pretty creaky at times, with a romantic subplot that you can practically feel slide off of the screen. But then the sustained lunacy hits, and everything is forgiven. While Duck Soup remains the Marx magnum opus, this isn’t far behind at all, with a dizzying array of verbal and physical gags, hilarious musical bits, and Groucho’s unceasing delight in playing off of Margaret Dumont’s brick-wall obliviousness. Even Zeppo gets a couple of classic moments, for Pete’s sake. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
SIFF Cinema Egyptian

*Bad Black
The genius of Wakaliwood films, which are made in the slums of Kampala, the capital of the English-speaking African country Uganda, is that they cannot be improved. The way they look is exactly how they were made: with almost no money. The raw action scenes and stunts, the super-cheap CGI special effects (the kind you find on an iPhone), the poor quality of the sound, the disorderly editing, the crazy mesh of English and Swahili, and the improbable plots are precisely what make these films so enjoyable. Because the poverty of the production is so proud of itself, so brazen, so lacking in shame, it directly mocks first-world production values. If, say, the special effects were upgraded, then these films would lose a lot of their political and comic power. Another aspect of Wakaliwood films is their benshi (a performer who provides narration) bringing the whole mess together. If the benshi does not make you laugh until it hurts, then he has not done his job. Bad Black is a Wakaliwood masterpiece. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
SIFF Cinema Egyptian

*A Dragon Arrives!
A cemetery located in the middle of a desert island and under the shadow cast by a rusted shipwreck, an exiled political prisoner who made the wreck his home (and wrote all over its walls) found within it dead from apparent suicide (or was it murder?), an earthquake that hits every time a fresh body is buried in the cemetery (is it ghosts or something more mythical?), and the detective who investigates it all with help from a sound engineer and a geologist (all of whom end up disappearing under unknown circumstances) make up the plot of Mani Haghighi’s A Dragon Arrives! The Iranian film is one part cleverly done mockumentary (it’s presented as a true story and interspersed with interviews that include Haghighi as himself), one part supernatural mystery dosed in light political intrigue, and the result is just as noteworthy for its truly epic landscape shots as it is for the compelling manner in which the story unfolds. (LEILANI POLK)
Lincoln Square Cinemas

*The Fixer
Radu (Tudor Istodor), the wiry Romanian at the heart of this sly procedural, is always on the move. Rumpled and unshaven, the trainee photojournalist zips from assignment to assignment. When he isn’t working, he’s berating his girlfriend’s son for his swimming technique. He expects everyone to work as hard as he does. As a fixer, he assists a crew of French journalists in investigating a sex-trafficking ring, where his impatience meets its match in tough nuns and traumatized victims. Director Adrian Sitaru avoids moralizing as he depicts Radu’s dawning realization that there are things in life more important than winning. (KATHY FENNESSY)
SIFF Cinema Uptown

Pyromaniac
A small Norwegian town is plagued by a series of mysterious fires. In possibly related news, the fire chief’s teenage son (Trond Hjort Nilssen) sure seems to know exactly where to go whenever the sirens start ringing. Director Erik Skjoldbjaerg (the original Insomnia) dispenses with the whodunit quickly, in favor of steadily worming his way deeper into the head of the discomfitingly serene central character. The film hits the creepy spot early and often, with a tangible sense of the growing toll on the community and some disturbingly gorgeous flames. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
Majestic Bay

SATURDAY-SUNDAY

8 Borders, 8 Days
Some experiences resist narrative. The eight days in which Sham, a single mother, and her two children cross eight borders to make it from Syria to Germany do not come neatly packaged in a way that makes it easy for Western audiences to consume. Instead, the viewer is invited along for the ride—not as an analyst, not as a film buff, but as a witness. Intellectually, viewers probably know that the conflict in Syria has created the biggest humanitarian crisis of our times, with millions of refugees fleeing violence. But following Sham and her kids as they push through lines of border police beating refugees, as they wait outside a restaurant on the Macedonian border in the rain, as they sneak through tall grass in the dead of night to cross the Hungarian border, shows us something else. It shows just how devastating the indifference and nativism of non-Syrian citizens can be to a single family that survives. This is a raw, emotional path for a documentary to take, and it’s one everyone should see. (SYDNEY BROWNSTONE)
SIFF Cinema Uptown

Beach Rats
Eliza Hittman captures the dead-end grit and chintz of South Brooklyn while channeling a more mundane borough variation on Beau Travail’s ritualized male deportment and redirected gaze. Notionally a film about boys idling a summer away—getting high, hooking up, and playing handball—the film is anything but idle in its restless portrayal of one particular beach rat’s personal crisis, a coming-of-consciousness tale in which the doe-faced but sinewy Frankie (star-in-the-making Harris Dickinson) can’t escape his increasing attraction to other men while maintaining a facade of heteronormativity. Bold work. (JAY KUEHNER)
SIFF Cinema Egyptian

Hello Destroyer
The feature debut of director Kevan Funk, Hello Destroyer is set in Prince George, Canada, but could be in any blue-collar town of the United States. Football could sub in for the sport the film centers on, hockey. Tyson Burr (Jared Abrahamson), a young hockey player, quiet and introspective off the ice, becomes a ball of fury on it, goaded into aggression by his coaches, hazed by his teammates, and enveloped by toxic masculinity at every turn in his life. It doesn’t really suit him, but when the carefully curated rage turns near deadly on the ice, he is shunned by everyone in his life. Hello Destroyer won numerous Canadian film awards and you can see why: Benjamin Loeb’s beautiful cinematography, the nuanced acting, and a fully realized vision by Funk—but it’s beset by a glacial pace and an oppressive, dismal outlook. (TRICIA ROMANO)
Pacific Place & SIFF Cinema Uptown

*The Force
Dash-cam video shows a police officer approaching a vehicle as a black suspect, who is reportedly wielding a knife, opens the passenger door. The officer yells, “Don’t you move or I’ll shoot you,” before the man climbs out of the car. The officer fires multiple shots into the suspect’s body. By now, we’re used to seeing videos of this kind—black men killed by police officers. In Peter Nicks’s documentary The Force, it’s Oakland police cadets who watch the video and dissect the timeline of events leading to another black man dead. Nicks secured incredible access to the department from 2014 to 2016, when it had already ticked off more than 10 years of noncompliance with a negotiated settlement agreement. As the nation turns its eyes on its police departments, Nicks offers an interior view of one trying to adapt to the dictates of policing in the age of #BLM. But his lens doesn’t make any judgments. He leaves it up to the footage to tell the story—no interviews, no narration. We see one captain repeatedly tell officers in training that a single misdeed can ruin the reputation of the department. We see the police chief, with his public-relations team, anticipating questions from the press following a fatal police shooting. We see community members decrying slow response times and protesters stomping through a police cruiser’s windshield. Toward the end of the film, news breaks that several Oakland officers raped and trafficked a teenage girl. The police chief resigns. So do his two next replacements. The Oakland Police Department finds itself, once again, at a nadir of community trust. And we’re watching it all unfold in real time. (STEVEN HSIEH)
SIFF Cinema Uptown & Pacific Place

SUNDAY ONLY

Bill Frisell, A Portrait
The copious praise heaped upon Bill Frisell by a plethora of jazz greats in Emma Franz’s engrossing documentary on the local guitarist/composer may seem excessive, but she proves that it’s all justified. Her subject’s speaking voice mirrors his playing: soft, eminently thoughtful, diligently questing, perpetually exuding a sense of wonder. Revered for his ability to perform with almost any musician in almost any context, Frisell has recorded with everyone from that bastion of Euro-jazz quietude, ECM Records, to Naked City’s extreme noise-jazz unit and dozens of points in between. His tone—pensive, pellucid, spangly—pervades this film, canonizing the exquisite language of his dexterous fingers. (DAVE SEGAL)
SIFF Cinema Uptown

*Forever Pure
The Beitar Jerusalem Football Club was long known as “the team of the underprivileged,” forming an apparently unbreakable bond with its adoring working-class fans. Once the team broke tradition in 2012 by signing two Muslim players, however, the atmosphere in the stands quickly became toxic. Director Maya Zinshtein delves deep into a fascinatingly volatile situation, exploring the bewildered team members, the nuclear passions of their former fans, and the club’s owner, a Freon-veined Russian billionaire who baldly states that he bought the team as a propaganda tool in his failed bid to become mayor of Jerusalem. Amazing and maddening. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
Lincoln Square Cinemas

Heal the Living
Three boys drive along an open road. The road turns into ocean waves. One particularly huge wave crashes over them—and us. Darkness. We wake up from it, but Simon doesn’t. He’s brain-dead. What follows this surreal opening is a panoramic picture of the lives that remain: a girl he loved and his parents, for one. But for another: the recipient of his donated heart. And the woman she loves and her sons. Delicate scenes are sutured together moment-by-moment as characters endure loss and allow each other hope. Watch to feel your own heart opened. (JESSICA FU)
SIFF Cinema Uptown

Ivan Tsarevitch and the Changing Princess: Four Enchanting Tales
Kirikou and the Sorceress animator Michel Ocelot produced this lush and vibrant children’s feature in his signature silhouette style. It’s anchored by a cleverly meta premise: a projectionist and his two apprentices try to avoid expected plot devices while bringing four magical tales to life, which follow a girl who learns to master monsters, a magician-in-training who must outwit his devious master, an abused ship boy and his canny cat, and the film’s eponymous story, about a young man trying to save his father’s life and the shape-shifting princess who decides his fate. It’s short and sweet (a manageable 57 minutes), inherently charming, and clever enough to be enjoyed by adults, though children who see it will need to be able to read—it’s in French with English subtitles. (LEILANI POLK)
Majestic Bay

*Step
Recall Hoop Dreams, the 1994 documentary about two black American teenagers who dream of becoming pro-ballers and making millions. Step is not like that. Though having the same urban and class setting as Hoop Dreams (this time Baltimore and not Chicago), these black American teenagers are not dreaming of fame or riches. There are no such illusions for them. Their goals are more realistic: graduate from high school, get into college, obtain a degree, and secure stable employment. As for step dancing (which is not really at the center of the documentary), it provides pleasure, discipline, and a way to discharge a lot of inner-city pressure. Life for these young women is not easy at home or in the classroom. Sometimes there’s no food in the fridge; other times, homelessness is one unpaid bill away. The documentary is straightforward and powerful. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
SIFF Cinema Uptown

Yourself and Yours
Hong Sang-soo’s 18th feature—all of them absurdist but humanely perceptive variations on the intractable nature of romance between men and women—sees him dolefully refining his abiding conceit, as ever played out over long, fumbling conversations fueled by soju and beer. Youngsoo, an artist whose mom is dying, is faced with jealous doubts after his imbibing girlfriend Minjung is rumored to be fooling around with other men. Hong envisions desire as its own form of duplicity, which structurally plays out in the film’s elusive and illusory replication of Minjung, who singularly (or collectively?) busts the myth of a “truly impressive man.” (JAY KUEHNER)
SIFF Cinema Egyptian