This guide to the Seattle International Film Festival is different than in years past. Instead of a comprehensive breakdown of all the films—which you can still find online at—we're focusing on films that are most worthy of your attention: ones that we liked, loved, are critically acclaimed, have won awards at other venerable fests, feature beloved actors and/or directors, or all of the above. More reviews (and extended versions of some below) will be added online throughout the run of SIFF. So stay tuned!

Iran, 2018, 100 min., Dir. Jafar Panahi

Dissident director Jafar Panahi has been persecuted and jailed in Iran, and banned from making films or traveling abroad. Since then, he has produced several unauthorized films, sometimes having to smuggle them out of the country. In 3 Faces, he stars with actress Behnaz Jafari, each playing a version of themselves in this fictional story that finds them lured to a rural village after receiving a disturbing video from a young woman. The film is shot in Panahi's neorealist style, with long, meditative scenes of everyday interactions and naturalist dialogue. But throughout, the themes of how Iranian culture sees "entertainers," the subjugation and harassment of women, and the hardships and persistence of the old ways of thinking are revealed. The film won an award for best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival. (GILLIAN ANDERSON)

Lincoln Square Sat May 18, 6 pm

SIFF Cinema Uptown Sun May 19, 6:30 pm

Netherlands, 2019, 93 min., Dir. Willem Bosch

What happens after we die? And, if given the chance to live our lives again, would we make the same choices? Dutch film Afterlife explores these questions with a touch of magic and humor. When 16-year-old Sam is killed in a bike accident, she chooses to spend eternity in the afterlife, reuniting with her dead mother. But when it's determined that Sam was taken too early from the living, the girl and her mother (with the help of an angel) select the forbidden option—Sam gets to live her entire life again. While I wouldn't get too caught up in the how of it all, Afterlife is a touching film about family, grief, memory, and death. (JASMYNE KEIMIG)

Ark Lodge Wed May 22, 6:30 pm

Pacific Place Sat May 25, 11 am

SIFF Cinema Egyptian Mon May 27, 9 pm

USA, 2019, 114 min., Dir. Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert

This feature-length documentary is the first work to emerge from Netflix's partnership with the Obamas. The former president and his wife have a company, Higher Ground Productions, that finds and/or produces content for the California-based media distributor. American Factory is just amazing. It concerns a Chinese corporation, Fuyao Glass, that opened in Moraine, Ohio, a factory that makes glass for vehicles. The plant was abandoned by General Motors during the crash of 2008. In the Obama-produced doc, we not only see the comic and tragic clashes of two very different labor and management cultures, but a process that is actively shaping the world today. This is the American factory of tomorrow: lower wages, less benefits, higher production, no unions. Nevertheless, many of the American employees are just happy to have a job. As wages in China go up, wages in the US are going down. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

SIFF Cinema Uptown Mon May 20, 6:30 pm 

Pacific Place Tues May 21, 4:30 pm

Poland, 2018, 85 min., Dir. RaĂșl de la Fuente, Damian Nenow

All the macho foreign-correspondent bullshit swirling around the documentary's central figure, the renowned Polish writer and reporter Ryszard Kapuscinski, makes the first 15 minutes of this otherwise incredible film difficult to watch. But once all that nonsense settles down, the power of the story and the innovative way it's told grabs hold and doesn't let go. As Portugal shuffles off from its colonial grip on Angola, a civil war fills the power vacuum. Kapuscinski is one of the few journalists covering the war. As he travels through the war-torn country to the front line of the conflict, he meets communist fighters who change the way he thinks about the country and about the whole idea of objectivity in journalism. The great innovation here is the use of animation. Rather than employing shitty historical reenactments to immerse you in the scene, the directors chose to animate the whole story. At times, the animation artfully and seamlessly gives way to real-world interviews with the film's subjects, many of whom are still alive, which is something I've never quite seen before. Highly recommended. (RICH SMITH)

SIFF Cinema Uptown Mon May 20, 9:15 pm; Wed May 22, 4:30 pm

USA, 2019, 101 min., Dir. Roger Ross Williams

For 85 years, Harlem's Apollo Theater has essentially been a mecca for black American culture. So it makes perfect sense for a filmmaker of the stature of Roger Ross Williams (God Loves Uganda) to shoot a documentary about the 1,500-capacity palace, which has showcased the zenith of black musicians, comedians, and writers. From James Brown's immortal 1963 Live at the Apollo LP to performances by Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Richard Pryor, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, this venue has been an incubator and crucible for integral black expression in myriad forms. It's past time to revel in the Apollo's fascinating story. (DAVE SEGAL)

SIFF Cinema Egyptian Sat May 25, 6:45 pm; Sun May 26, 1:30 pm

Shoreline Community College Mon May 27, 3:30 pm

USA, 2018, 88 min., Dir. Benjamin Kasulke

Those familiar with Benjamin Kasulke's work as a cinematographer will be surprised by his directorial debut. It is nothing like those films he shot for Lynn Shelton and other noted indie directors (check out 2017's Cold November). This film is fast, full of youth-sex energy and hot blasts of rock and rap. The film's colors are bright, the cast is gorgeous, the story—cowritten by its star, Hannah Marks—adds a new twist to the old love-triangle trope. And there's not one boring or bad moment from beginning to end. One thing I never expected is that Kasulke, a filmmaker I've known for nearly 15 years—and a Stranger Genius Award winner—had it in him to become a 21st-century John Hughes. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

SIFF Cinema Uptown Sat May 18, 6:30 pm

Pacific Place Sun May 19, 1 pm

Ark Lodge Thurs May 23, 6:30 pm

USA, 2019, 78 min., Dir. Phillip Youmans

Too many critics have associated this startling work by a 19-year-old NYU film student, Phillip Youmans, with the films of Terrence Malick. But we can do better than that. If we really think about these brutally beautiful images of rural black life in the South, we find a much closer association with the films of the Mexican director Carlos Reygadas. His masterpiece Silent Light exists in the same melancholy universe as Youmans's Burning Cane, which, among others things, has a great performance by Hollywood star Wendell Pierce. He plays a rural pastor who, like the other main characters, has a soul burdened by those heavy, heavy blues. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

SIFF Cinema Uptown Thurs June 6, 6:30 pm; Fri June 7, 3:30 pm

Spain, 2018, 105 min., Dir. Arantxa EchevarrĂ­a

Arantxa EchevarrĂ­a's assured debut revolves around two Roma teens in Madrid. The brassy Carmen, a high-school dropout, can't wait to get married and become a hairdresser. The solitary Lola, a graffiti artist and closeted lesbian, longs to be a teacher. The women meet while working at their family's market stalls, lust blooming with the touch of a hand. Soon they're sneaking out for smoke breaks and passionate kisses. The potential for tragedy comes from their patriarchal community's inability to accept same-sex romance, but the possibility for triumph lies with their stubbornness and strength. Bonus: The riot of sequins with which their culture celebrates even the most mundane occasions. (KATHY FENNESSY)

Lincoln Square Thurs May 30, 8:45 pm

SIFF Cinema Uptown Sun June 2, 5 pm; Tues June 4, 3:30 pm

Belarus, 2018, 93 min., Dir. Darya Zhuk

This comedy, set in 1996 Belarus, follows a young DJ who has big dreams of moving to Chicago to pursue her house-music career. But a typo on her US visa application forces her to move to a rural village and befriend a local family in order to live out her American dream. Crystal Swan gives off heavy Xavier Dolan vibes—angsty, dreamy, and retro. It's also Belarus's first Oscar submission in 22 years. (JASMYNE KEIMIG)

Lincoln Square Cinemas Fri May 24, 9 pm

SIFF Cinema Uptown Fri May 31, 8:30 pm; Sat June 1, 2:30 pm

Finland, 2018, 86 min., Dir. Niklas Kullström, Martti Kaartinen

You'd think there would be more egregious displays of Orientalism in a documentary that fuses the journal entries of a late-19th-century Finnish diplomat (G.J. Ramstedt) with visually stunning, modern-day footage of Mongolia and Japan, but these documentarians largely avoid that. The film mostly focuses on Ramstedt's observations of Mongolian and Japanese philosophy, namely various iterations of the notion of impermanence. The juxtaposition of the contemporary footage with the voice-over of Ramstedt's journal nicely demonstrates East Asian expressions of the concept of permanent impermanence, and many of his observations about language are fascinating, if not occasionally dour. Top of my list of films to watch either completely stoned or extremely sober. (RICH SMITH)

Pacific Place Sat May 18, 6:30 pm

Majestic Bay Sun May 19, 3:30 pm

Shoreline Community College Wed May 29, 8:30 pm

Argentina, 2018, 126 min., Dir. Luis Ortega

Serial-killer mania isn't just happening in the United States. Carlos Robledo Puch, Argentina's famous baby-faced serial killer, is getting his own strangely sexy biopic, rivaling the slew of films coming out about Washington State's most famous Republican, Ted Bundy. Known as "The Angel of Death," Puch—who, at the time of his arrest, looked like a young Leonardo DiCaprio with Shirley Temple curls—was convicted of 11 murders, multiple rapes, and many robberies, among other crimes. Starring the precocious, talented, and charismatic Lorenzo Ferro as Puch, the film is less of a character study and more of a smutty (and pretty gay) romp through Puch's crimes. Ferro's confusingly electric chemistry with his costar Chino Darín will make you spend the whole film asking yourself: Are these murderers ever going to fuck? It's hot, but also people die. (CHASE BURNS)

SIFF Cinema Egyptian Sat May 18, 9:30 pm; Thurs May 30, 9:30 pm

Belgium, 2018, 87 min., Dir. Nicole Palo

A woman struggling to make it as an actor in working-class Paris is starting to wonder if she will ever get a break. She takes acting classes where she is overlooked for the young hotties, lives in a tiny apartment, works an unsatisfying sales job, and does ineffectual singing bowl therapy. Since she hates everything about her life, she decides to kill herself on her 35th birthday, "the expiration date for actresses." She begins working her way through her list of things to do before she dies, like giving away her stuff and having more sex. The film has a European, lighthearted sensibility and is full of somewhat dark absurdist comedy. It isn't the depressing story you'd expect from hearing the plot, and there is a refreshing through line of respecting her decision to not live anymore. (GILLIAN ANDERSON)

Shoreline Community College Tues May 28, 8:45 pm

SIFF Cinema Uptown Wed May 29, 8:30 pm

SIFF Cinema Egyptian Fri May 31, 4 pm

Hong Kong, 2018, 109 min., Dir. Ying Liang

While attending a film festival in Taiwan, an exiled-from-China filmmaker (Gong Zhe) takes the opportunity to secretly reunite with her mainlander mother via the chaos of a sightseeing bus tour. The Chinese government does not approve. Writer/director Ying Liang, himself an exile, brings an absorbing sense of reality to the potentially melodramatic scenario, particularly during the times when the characters are able to briefly drop the charade. (The hushed conversations between the lead and her supportive husband have a gorgeously unforced intimacy.) It's a small marvel of gentle humor—the glimpses of the surrounding tourists are hilariously on-point—and uncomfortably pointed insights, featuring multiple sneaky moments of grace. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

Lincoln Square Sat May 18, 3:30 pm

SIFF Cinema Uptown Fri May 24, 1:30 pm; Mon May 27, 8:30 pm

Switzerland, 2018, 97 min., Dir. Barbara Miller

Women in the US and other Western nations owe a lot to feminist movements. Not only are we no longer considered the property of a man, we can actually vote, run for office, own real estate, not get legally raped by our husbands, and (at least at this moment) have abortions. Women elsewhere haven't been so lucky, and this is painfully apparent in #Female Pleasure, the 2018 documentary by Swiss director Barbara Miller that focuses on how women's sexuality is viewed in places where women are treated more like it's the 6th century than the 21st. It also examines the fundamentally unfair and destructive ways that female pleasure and male pleasure are viewed in these societies. The film profiles five women who have emerged from under the heavy weight of inequality to find some kind of liberation. (KATIE HERZOG)

SIFF Cinema Uptown Fri May 31, 6:15 pm

Pacific Place Sat June 1, 4 pm

USA, 2019, 49 min., Dir. Ruben Rodriguez Perez

There isn't anything particularly groundbreaking about this short, locally produced documentary from Ruben Rodriguez Perez, created in part with funds from a 4Culture award grant. But its profile of Amy and Dex Montenegro, the matriarch and patriarch of an Issaquah family who are both mixed martial arts fighters, is definitely compelling. It touches on how they met (training at the same gym), how they support each other's careers, and the three daughters they're raising and coaching to be the next generation of fighters (two wrestle, one boxes). The competitions in the film create a nice sense of tension and drama while also offering an intriguing glimpse at a segment of the population many of us probably don't know much about, showing how MMA has grown from cult status into a full-fledged spectator sport. (LEILANI POLK)

Pacific Place Tues May 28, 7 pm

SIFF Cinema Uptown Wed May 29, 4 pm

USA, 2018, 90 min., Dir. Shannon Service, Jeffrey Waldron

Faced with a labor shortage and driven to distant waters by overfishing, Thai fishing fleets have been kidnapping and enslaving young men, some of whom never return home. Those who survive accidents, beatings, and torture in "company prisons" are sometimes stranded in Indonesia for years. Enter Patima Tungpuchayakul, who heads a labor rights organization in Bangkok. Her small team, including former slave Tun Lin, sets out on a mission to bring these men back and fights for them to be compensated. Anyone who eats store-bought seafood should watch this documentary, which reveals how an ecological crisis is worsening a widespread human-rights travesty. (JOULE ZELMAN)

SIFF Cinema Uptown Sun June 2, 6 pm

Pacific Place Mon June 3, 4:30 pm

USA, 2019, 105 min., Dir. Frédéric Tcheng

When we think of Studio 54, we think of Roy Halston Frowick. Known simply as Halston, he was the fashion designer and hat maker who brought the world ultra-suede minimalism. Think of Liza Minnelli with her sleek, long pants. Andy Warhol and his coked-out models. Jacqueline Kennedy and her caftans. This is the world of Halston, and it's a world that is dramatic, tragic, and—up until now—without a proper documentary. This has the potential to be one of the best fashion docs of the year. (CHASE BURNS)

Pacific Place Fri June 7, 4 pm

SIFF Cinema Uptown Sun June 9, 5 pm

UK, 2018, 75 min., Dir. Jack McHenry

What do you get when a black-and-white parody of 1930s "old dark house" movies slams headlong into a cheapo gorefest demonic possession plotline? A damn mess, but a decent time for those who love homages. A gathering of the idle rich, plus one sensitive secretary, play some ill-advised supernatural games in a decrepit mansion, awakening an evil (and spectacularly cheesy) presence. It's hard to tell exactly how much of the film's ineptitude is intentional. The ridiculous special effects are clearly on purpose. The awkward pauses at the end of nearly every shot? If they're intentional, I'm impressed with the filmmakers' commitment. (JOULE ZELMAN)

SIFF Cinema Egyptian Fri June 7, 11:59 pm; Sun June 9, 9 pm

South Korea, 2018, 138 min., Dir. Bora Kim

During Seoul's 1990s construction boom, a lonely teen named Eunhee feels betrayed by her friends and isolated from her tumultuous family. No one seems to understand her until she meets Youngji Kim, her new teacher—a kind, sympathetic, and unpatronizing woman. Bora Kim's first feature was a hit on the festival circuit, snagging major awards at the Beijing and Berlin International Film Festivals. Lovers of thoughtful, optimistic coming-of-age stories should be pleased. (JOULE ZELMAN)

SIFF Cinema Uptown Fri June 7, 8:30 pm; Sat June 8, 11:30 am

USA, 2019, 107 min., Dir. Adam Bolt

CRISPR, a recently discovered molecular cleaver that revolutionized genetic editing, could end genetic diseases as we know them—but it could also usher in a new era of eugenics and designer babies. Human Nature doesn't shy away from either of these extremes and offers no easy answers to the ethical minefield of tinkering with our DNA. Far from a dry science seminar, the beautifully shot documentary uses a clever combination of simplistic genetic animations and compelling characters to convey the power of this discovery and why it has the potential to change what it means to be human. (TIMOTHY KENNEY)

SIFF Cinema Uptown Fri May 17, 4:30 pm; Sat May 25, 9 pm

SIFF Cinema Egyptian Mon May 27, 1:15 pm

UK, 2018, 119 min., Dir. Peter Strickland

We've seen inanimate objects that become carriers of evil—from cars to houses to dolls to a VHS tape. But what about a dress? Peter Strickland's homage to giallo (Italian horror films) is a dark satire about consumerism that follows a cursed, life-destroying garment (killer couture!) after its latest victim/owner, Sheila (played by the great British actor Marianne Jean-Baptiste), purchases it from a department store that happens to be run by witches. The LA Times calls it "a movie of ravishing colors and textures that ultimately elevates style and sensuality into something genuinely meaningful." (LEILANI POLK)

Pacific Place Wed May 29, 4 pm

SIFF Cinema Egyptian Fri May 31, 9:15 pm

USA, 2019, 93 min., Dir. Amber McGinnis

International Falls has a similar feel to Fargo—the setting is a small, frozen Minnesota town whose residents are made up of friendly kooks—and its humor is dark, though the morbid plot device doesn't happen until the film is almost over. Rachael Harris is radiant and perfectly cast as the subtly funny Dee, a middle-aged wife and mother stuck in a tedious job and a marriage that has obviously gone past its expiration date. Rob Huebel is Tim, a depressed comedian who comes to International Falls to perform his admittedly not-very-good stand-up at Dee's hotel. It's ostensibly about two people who use each other—and comedy—to deal with real-life shit. But it's also about the momentary comfort we find in strangers, how deeply you can get to know someone in a brief period while never really knowing them at all, and how a person can completely change your life without ever really being a part of it. It will leave you feeling both sad and supremely satisfied. (LEILANI POLK)

Ark Lodge Sat May 18, 8:30 pm

SIFF Cinema Uptown Thurs June 6, 9 pm; Fri June 7, 12:30 pm

Italy, 2018, 97 min., Dir. Stefano Mordini

This is a standard thriller, true, but it's done well. A rich Italian businessman is having an affair he wants to end. He wants to return to being a regular family man. But his gorgeous lover wants to keep the affair going. Then something bad happens, and he ends up as the suspect in his lover's murder. Did he kill her or not? And did he also play a part in a car crash that killed a young man visiting his parents in rural Italy? The director keeps all the balls in the air until the very end of the film. Great stuff. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

SIFF Cinema Uptown Sat May 18, 8:30 pm; Thurs May 23, 4:30 pm

Majestic Bay Wed May 22, 9:15 pm

USA, 2019, 81 min., Dir. David Hambridge

Ever wonder what it's like to work as a rhino caretaker? This film follows the rangers who care for the only three northern white rhinos left in the world: Sudan, his daughter Najin, and his granddaughter Fatu. They all live together in a protected reserve in Kenya. People outside the reserve are very poor, and a rhino horn is worth a lot of money. Because of poachers, the rhinos can't live free, they must be behind fences and guarded 24/7. Kifaru is an uplifting story about people caring for animals and working for their well-being, but it's also a sad story about how humans are driving other species into extinction. One of the caretakers asks: "How did we get to this point? Why do we fight and plunder the world until there is nothing left?" (GILLIAN ANDERSON)

SIFF Cinema Egyptian Tues May 21, 7 pm; Mon June 3, 4:30 pm

SIFF Cinema Uptown Wed May 22, 4 pm

USA, 2019, 102 min., Dir. Nisha Ganatra

It's 2019, and there are still no female late-night television hosts. In many respects, this isn't surprising. But thankfully we have writers like Mindy Kaling to flesh out a world in which there's one who has existed for 20 years. In R-rated comedy Late Night, Kaling plays Molly Patel, a "diversity hire" in the writers room of Emma Thompson's intimidating (and secretly, delightful) Katherine Newbury, a legendary late-night host who's on the verge of being fired unless she changes up her act. No breaking of the mold here, but a fun and engaging watch without a doubt. (JASMYNE KEIMIG)

SIFF Cinema Egyptian Sat June 1, 5:30 pm

SIFF Cinema Uptown Sun June 2, 3:30 pm

Japan, 1985, 100 min., Dir. Macoto Tezuka

This is one of my favorite cult films of all time. Originally a big flop in Japan, this colorful musical biopic of a fictional new-wave duo in 1980s-era Tokyo has slowly made a comeback, now touring the international circuit as a cult gem. The son of manga genius Osamu Tezuka (Astroboy, Metropolis), director Macoto Tezuka's visual style is masterful in his first feature, depicting a wild, unique subculture (the Japanese avant-garde new wave) at its apex. If you're curious, the '80s-era clips from the Instagram account are good examples of what you're getting yourself into. (CHASE BURNS)

SIFF Cinema Egyptian Fri May 31, 11:59 pm; Sun June 2, 9 pm 

SIFF Cinema Uptown Thurs June 6, 9:30 pm

UK, 2018, 91 min., Dir. Werner Herzog, Andre Singer

Using archival footage and current interviews with Mikhail Gorbachev, Werner Herzog's documentary with Andre Singer looks at the former general secretary of the USSR and examines what exactly happened before communism fell. Herzog, a Gorbachev fan, celebrates the former leader's achievements—including the dissolution of the Soviet bloc, the reunification of Germany, and the rise of social democracy—while also probing into the man's psyche. Did everything go as planned? Of course not, but when Herzog asks Gorbachev what he'd want on his headstone, the now-88-year-old says, "We tried." And it's not hard to believe him. (KATIE HERZOG)

SIFF Cinema Uptown Thurs May 30, 7 pm

Shoreline Community College Fri May 31, 6:30 pm

Colombia, 2019, 102 min., Dir. Alejandro Landes

This is one strange beast of a movie. Set in the fog-enshrouded mountains of Colombia, the action centers on the scrappy, Lord of the Flies–like members of a guerrilla operation called The Organization. When they aren't dancing around bonfires, firing assault rifles into the air, and beating up on each other, the soldiers are training to do... something (the politics are intentionally vague). Their companions include a compact drill sergeant, a milk cow named Shakira, and a POW they call Doctora (Julianne Nicholson, fully invested in a physically demanding role). If you insist on likability in your movie characters, Monos isn't for you, because these kids are basically assholes. Recommended mostly for the jaw-dropping topography, Mica Levi's synapse-scrambling score, and the Apocalypse Now–level cinematography. (KATHY FENNESSY)

SIFF Cinema Uptown Fri May 17, 3:30 pm

SIFF Cinema Egyptian Mon May 20, 9:30 pm

Australia, 2018, 136 min., Dir. Jennifer Kent

In 19th-century Tasmania, a young Irish woman and an Aboriginal tracker, united in hatred and a need for vengeance, pursue the British soldiers who committed vile deeds against them. The onslaught of sexual violence and brutality in Jennifer Kent's second feature (after The Babadook) reportedly drove distressed festivalgoers out of the theater at Sundance. The Nightingale seems to be this Australian director's unstinting reckoning with the abuse, exploitation, and genocide of the past. Those with a strong constitution and no expectations of a crowd-pleasing revenge arc may consider this a must-see. (JOULE ZELMAN)

SIFF Cinema Uptown Sat May 18, 9 pm

SIFF Cinema Egyptian Thurs May 23, 9:30 pm

France, 2018, 106 min., Dir. Olivier Assayas

Starring Juliette Binoche and Guillaume Canet, Non-Fiction tells the story of a Parisian writer who blurs the line between fact and fiction by drawing on his real-life love affairs in his incendiary new novel, setting off a chain reaction in his social circle. This flirty, chatty, smart comedy is French and bohemian as hell: Everyone is cheating on each other, having a midlife crisis, expounding on the nature of romantic relationships, and voicing loud opinions about technology. But Non-Fiction feels like breezy, seductive, European fun. So much so, you'll need a cigarette afterward. (JASMYNE KEIMIG)

Kirkland Performance Center Thurs May 30, 8 pm

Pacific Place Tues June 4, 7 pm

Iran, 2018, 102 min., Dir. Arash Lahooti

This superb Iranian film illuminates the raw reality of Iranian capitalism. And yes, Iran is a capitalist society, and so many of the problems that define this economic system in the US and Europe (class struggle, for example) are also present in this Islamic state. But what makes this feature really great are the performances, the director's eye for detail, and the effortless rhythm of his blocking (the direction of the movement of the actors during a scene). In this film, which concerns a fruit-picking enterprise and a woman in a man's world, the camera and the bodies of the actors form, scene by scene, a dance that's naturally expressed. Those who love the Dardenne brothers will love Orange Days. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

Lincoln Square Mon May 20, 6:30 pm

SIFF Cinema Uptown Wed May 22, 3:30 pm

Pacific Place Fri May 24, 11 am

USA, 2019, 78 min., Dir. Jan Haaken

Nearly half a century after the US Supreme Court legalized abortion, the access to actually getting one is continually shrinking. But at the same time that states all across the US are making it harder, if not impossible, to get this basic health-care procedure, doctors are dutifully committed to serving their patients. Through the stories of abortion doctors in four different cities and towns, Our Bodies Our Doctors explores the stigma attached to this profession, the reality of working in an abortion clinic, and how a number of brave physicians continue to fight for their patients despite the cost to themselves. (KATIE HERZOG)

SIFF Cinema Uptown Thurs May 30, 6:30 pm

Pacific Place Sat June 1, 11 am

France, 2019, 72 min., Dir. Juan Antin

Named for the earth/fertility goddess revered by the indigenous people of the Andes, Juan Antin's CĂ©sar-nominated animated adventure follows two precocious youths and their trusty animal companions from a small Peruvian village at the edge of the vast Incan empire. They embark on a quest to the royal capital (which ends up besieged by Spanish conquerors) to retrieve a sacred statue forcibly taken by an Incan overlord. Antin's gorgeously wrought 3-D CGI animation is inspired by vibrant indigenous art, and has a soft, simple, and whimsical feel, like a children's storybook. Paired with a soundtrack that features pre-Columbian music (ancient water flutes included) and themes of love, respect, and gratitude to our earth threaded throughout, Pachamama entertains, charms, and introduces a new culture to younger viewers. (LEILANI POLK)

Pacific Place Sun May 19, 11 am

Lincoln Square Mon May 27, 1 pm

USA, 2019, 94 min., Dir. Andrew Elizaga, Tia Young

With the public primed by Amazing Grace, the documentary about the making of Aretha Franklin's 1972 gospel album, it's a propitious time to view Patrinell: The Total Experience. Reverend Patrinell Staten Wright is the closest thing Seattle has to the Queen of Soul (albeit with a heavier emphasis on church life), and this film portrays the septuagenarian gospel/R&B singer's inspirational story with utmost reverence. A strict disciplinarian, Wright headed the multiracial Total Experience Gospel Choir and impacted hundreds of lives through her spiritual and artistic tutelage. Patrinell reveals a woman who's battled racism, sexism, gentrification, and health problems to become what one of her protégés called "our Rosa Parks, MLK, and Barack Obama." (DAVE SEGAL)

SIFF Cinema Egyptian Sun May 26, 4 pm

SIFF Cinema Uptown Mon May 27, 3 pm

Cyprus, 2018, 95 min., Dir. Tonia Mishiali

After a fateful encounter at the doctor's office, a long-suffering Mediterranean housewife finds herself bombarded by visions of a life without her boorish husband. Said daydreams rarely end peacefully. Tonia Mishiali's absorbingly odd directorial debut keeps the viewer hopping throughout, combining grim routine and violent flights of fancy to fascinatingly wobbly effect. (A running gag involving a chatty neighbor with a fondness for cosmetic surgery just kills, every time.) The film jumps between humdrum reality and surreal gallows humor with ease, anchored (barely) by Stella Fyrogeni's tremendously adaptable lead performance. Whenever her eyes get that faraway look, watch out. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

Lincoln Square Tues May 28, 8:30 pm

SIFF Cinema Uptown Sun June 2, 8 pm; Mon June 3, 3:30 pm

Argentina, 2018, 90 min., Dir. Daniel Rosenfeld

Astor Piazzolla was a genius bandoneon player (the instrument looks like an accordion) who caught tons of flak for revolutionizing tango with gestures from jazz and classical composition. Sort of like what A Tribe Called Quest did for hiphop, or what Magma did for rock. This documentary weaves together two stories with newly found archival footage and home movies. The first story is Piazzolla's rise to international acclaim, and the second is about his son, Daniel Rosenfeld, the film's director, who's been tasked to preserve his father's legacy while also facing their complicated past. Both stories don't hold tons of tension, but the music makes the movie worth a watch. And, I mean, this man changed tango with a squeeze box. What did you ever do? (RICH SMITH)

Pacific Place Mon May 27, 1:30 pm

SIFF Cinema Uptown Thurs May 30, 9:30 pm

Kirkland Performance Center Fri May 31, 9 pm

USA, 2019, 97 min., Dir. Michael Tolajian

With Tucker Carlson's rep, you'd think a film from Fox would want to demonize black and brown inmates, but this documentary does just the opposite. The San Quentin Warriors, an all-inmate team in one of America's most well-known prisons, are united by a desire to have a winning season. But the basketball games, while as exciting as any March Madness match, are the least compelling part of this movie that uses the sport more as a vehicle to explore the journey these inmates have been on since arriving at San Quentin. (TIMOTHY KENNEY)

Ark Lodge Fri May 17, 6:30 pm

SIFF Cinema Uptown Sat May 18, 12 pm; Tues May 21, 3:30 pm

USA, 2019, 91 min., Dir. Janice Engel

Did you know one of George W. Bush's most ardent critics was a journalist from his own state? Molly Ivins was the loudest liberal voice covering the Texas legislature. She eventually followed the Bush clan from the state house to the White House. But that was hardly the height of her career. Ivins had long made a name for herself as a journalist. Her sometimes abrasive style was unique and boisterous. In Raise Hell, Ivins's story clips along breezily, punctuated by her dry wit. It's an easy watch, but it'll leave you wondering: What would the late Ivins have thought of the White House's current tenant? (NATHALIE GRAHAM)

SIFF Cinema Uptown Fri May 31, 7 pm; Sat June 1, 12:30 pm

USA, 2018, 80 min., Dir. Nancy Schwartzman

Steubenville, Ohio, is synonymous with two things these days: high-school football and sexual assault. They go hand in hand. There's a line in Roll Red Roll, Nancy Schwartzman's documentary about the 2012 Steubenville rape case, that goes something like this: "This is not a victim-blame BUT..." and then the speaker, the defense attorney for one of the high-school boys who raped a teenage girl at a party, predictably goes on to victim-blame her. Rape culture, and the social-media posts that added fuel to the fire, are laid bare in this expertly shot, explicit, and hard-to-watch film. Also, did you know Anonymous, the hacker group, got involved? Me neither. (NATHALIE GRAHAM)

Majestic Bay Mon May 20, 4:30 pm

SIFF Cinema Uptown Tues May 28, 6:30 pm; Wed May 29, 4:30 pm

Australia, 2018, 97 min., Dir. Stephan Elliott

Few countries have a knack for tales of the tacky quite like Australia, and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert director Stephan Elliott's semiautobiographical outing is an explosion of polyester and lacquered hair. In Wonder Years–style voice-over, an adult Jeff Marsh remembers a 1970s summer dominated by the Jones family—including love interest Melly—on one side, and the Halls on the other. A screening of Jaws spurs him to become a filmmaker, and his Super 8 films punctuate the action. If it starts from a place of fun, the vibe in the cul-de-sac turns as rotten as a beached whale after the adults indulge in a key party. There's a lesson here about the limits of permissive parenting, but it's mostly a Martin Parr–like evocation of a cartoonishly narcissistic time. (KATHY FENNESSY)

SIFF Cinema Egyptian Sat June 1, 8:30 pm

Shoreline Community College Sun June 2, 6 pm

SIFF Cinema Uptown Mon June 3, 4:30 pm

Estonia, 2018, 102 min., Dir. Liina Trishkina-Vanhatalo

This Estonian story follows a man who's thrust into unexpected fatherhood and his struggle to be seen as a capable parent. Erik is a peripatetic construction worker and an immature hothead. His ex-girlfriend calls unexpectedly to tell him she had a baby, and it's his. When she says she doesn't want the baby, he must decide if he will take the baby or give her up for adoption. Affecting without being overly sentimental, the film looks at the role of fathers and society's expectations of them, learning to care about someone else instead of just yourself, and finding strength you didn't know you had. (GILLIAN ANDERSON)

Pacific Place Mon May 27, 9:30 pm

SIFF Cinema Uptown Thurs May 30, 9 pm; Tues June 4, 6 pm

Mexico, 2019, 105 min., Dir. Hari Sama

Film critic Nate Jones (or his editor) wrote a good headline in his review of This Is Not Berlin for Vulture: "The Movie That Will Make You Want to Become a Pansexual New-Wave Performance Artist in 1980s Mexico." I very much identified with this while watching director Hari Sama's semiautobiographical film about being a teenager in mid-1980s Mexico City, although the looming AIDS epidemic part is certainly something to consider when pondering time travel. Anyhow, the film's riotous new wave fun, paired with drugs and ennui and a bustling Mexico City backdrop, makes it a more interesting addition to the glut of '80s nostalgic teen movies coming from today's Gen X filmmakers. Also of note: Academy Award nominee Marina de Tavira, from Roma, stars as the lead character's mother. (CHASE BURNS)

Pacific Place Thurs May 23, 9:30 pm

SIFF Cinema Uptown Sun June 2, 9 pm

SIFF Cinema Egyptian Thurs June 6, 4 pm

USA, 2019, 91 min., Dir. Nick Zeig-Owens

I know this much is true: (1) Trixie Mattel did not deserve to win RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars 3, and (2) Trixie is one of the funniest people ever to appear on that show. BenDeLaCreme should have won, but she self-eliminated because she hates competitions, and without Ben there, Shangela should have won, but democracy is an asshole. Still! Trixie Mattel is hilarious. Most recent example: BenDeLaCreme tweeted, "What's Game of Thrones about?" and Trixie tweeted back, "It's about people fighting for a crown. You would hate it!" Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts is a documentary about the performer. (CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE)

SIFF Cinema Egyptian Fri May 24, 7 pm; Sat May 25, 4:15 pm

USA, 2019, 97 min., Dir. Bert & Bertie

Any film that has Viola Davis and Allison Janney in one lineup (not to mention Jim Gaffigan and Mike Epps) is one you want to watch. Set in 1977, Troop Zero is about a misfit 9-year-old girl named Christmas (played by the adorable Mckenna Grace of Gifted fame) who desperately wants to get her voice on NASA's Voyager Golden Record, and the lengths she goes to with help from her crew of oddball misfit pals to do it. (LEILANI POLK)

SIFF Cinema Egyptian Sun June 2, 6:30 pm

SIFF Cinema Uptown Tues June 4, 4:30 pm

Canada, 2019, 70 min., Dir. Brent Hodge

I always thought it was obvious who let the dogs out: Baha Men. But in this documentary, artist and cultural curator Ben Sisto proves that the answer is a bit more complicated than that. Who Let the Dogs Out explores the knotty history of that song, going from London to Trinidad to Miami to Michigan to get to the bottom of who truly came up with the earwormy hook. And though sometimes the short doc reaches for deeper, weightier meaning, it explores creativity and ownership rather well. By the end, you'll have that song stuck in your head, possibly forever! (JASMYNE KEIMIG)

SIFF Cinema Uptown Fri May 17, 9:15 pm

Pacific Place Sun May 19, 3:30 pm

Shoreline Community College Sat May 25, 8:30 pm

India, 2018, 85 min., Dir. Praveen Morchhale

Deep within the powder keg of Kashmir, a beleaguered Muslim "half-widow" repeatedly makes the hazardous trek to the nearest government center to try to claim the death certificate of her long-missing husband. Her attempts to move on, however, are stymied by a society where, to quote one of the wormier bureaucrats, it's the "responsibility of the people to keep their government happy." Writer/director Praveen Morchhale's film isn't exactly subtle about its message, beginning with the image of an elderly woman literally tied to a chair. Thankfully, though, much of the thematic heavy-handedness is leavened by an expert use of framing, Shilpi Marwaha's clear-eyed lead performance, and a final moment of irony that's keen enough to shave with. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

Lincoln Square Thurs May 23, 8:30 pm

Pacific Place Thurs May 30, 9:30 pm; Fri May 31, 11 am

Canada, 2018, 83 min., Dir. Alison Reid

In 1956, just after graduating college, Anne Innis Dagg went alone to South Africa to study giraffes. She was a pioneer in the research of a single animal in the wild, bringing back amazing film footage and observational notes. After returning from Africa, she earned a PhD, published numerous articles, wrote a foundational textbook on giraffes, and got into teaching. She wanted to do more giraffe research but found her way frustratingly blocked by sexist attitudes. So she worked to expose gender bias in academia and the failure to support women's research. There's been an effort lately to shine a light on women whose work may not have been adequately recognized before, and this doc shows the important scientific contributions and fascinating life of a giraffe-loving feminist pioneer. (GILLIAN ANDERSON)

SIFF Cinema Uptown Fri May 17, 6 pm; Mon May 20, 4 pm

Ark Lodge Sat May 18, 1 pm

Hungary, 2018, 114 min., Dir. KĂĄroly Ujj MĂ©szĂĄros

Much of this excellent crime thriller has aerial shots of an upside-down Budapest. On the ground, there is a detective, a woman who, with dread-filled eyes, can spot the clues that other cops miss, and also make the unseen connections between the dots visible. When she enters a crime scene, her feet are down and her head is up. But from the perspective of the upside-down Budapest—her city, and the city of the crimes she investigates—we see that it is the other way around: Her feet are up and her head is down. There is something truly profound about this inversion. The local (the crime scene) is a lower truth, and the general (the whole city) is a much higher truth. We are in fact always upside down. What holds us down to the ground is gravity. This film will certainly be remembered long after the festival ends. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

Ark Lodge Wed May 22, 8:45 pm

Pacific Place Fri May 24, 9 pm

SIFF Cinema Egyptian Sun May 26, 9:30 pm

UK, 2019, 112 min., Dir. Danny Boyle

SIFF's closing film is The Farewell, but the new outing from Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire) is playing at the same time on the last night of SIFF, and it feels like it's the other closing SIFF film. Yesterday is about a musician, Jack, who, after a freak bus accident during a mysterious global blackout, wakes up to a world where the Beatles never existed... but Ed Sheeran (who plays himself) does? Jack remembers the Fab Four, however, and finds rocketing fame and fortune (and a sense of dwindling creative self-worth) performing their songs as if they were his own. (LEILANI POLK)

SIFF Cinema Uptown Sun June 9, 6 pm