The Seattle International Film Festival 2019 runs from May 16–June 9. See details on all the films here, and find out about parties here.

SIFF 2019 Films

#Female Pleasure

Switzerland | 2018 | 97m | Barbara Miller
Stranger Says: 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 ...

3 Faces

Iran | 2018 | 100m | Jafar Panahi
Stranger Says: 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 ...

Afterlife

Netherlands | 2019 | 93m | Willem Bosch
Stranger Says: 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 ...

American Factory

USA | 2019 | 114m | Steven Bognar
Stranger Says: 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. ...

Another Day of Life

Poland | 2018 | 85m | Raúl de la Fuente
Stranger Says: 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 ...

The Apollo

USA | 2019 | 101m | Roger Ross Williams
Stranger Says: 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 ...

The Awakening of the Ants

Costa Rica | 2019 | 94m | Antonella Sudasassi Furniss
In Antonella Sudasassi Furniss's surrealist drama, a young homemaker's frustration and thwarted sexuality begin to break out in strange ways. On the surface, Isa's life seems lovely: adorable daughters, a pleasant husband. But her surrealist imaginings suggest a suppressed revolt ...

Banana Split

USA | 2018 | 88m | Benjamin Kasulke
Stranger Says: 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). ...

Burning Cane

USA | 2019 | 78m | Phillip Youmans
Stranger Says: 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 ...

Carmen & Lola

Spain | 2018 | 105m | Arantxa Echevarría
Stranger Says: Arantxa Echevarría’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 ...

Cold Case Hammarskjöld

Denmark | 2019 | 128m | Mads Brügger
Stranger Says: In 1961, UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld died in a plane crash on his way to Congo to oversee ceasefire negotiations between UN forces and the Katanga rebels. For years, many have suspected foul play over the official's ...

Crystal Swan

Belarus | 2018 | 93m | Darya Zhuk
Stranger Says: 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 ...

The Dead Don't Die

2019 | 113m | Jim Jarmusch
The cast list alone says The Dead Don’t Die could be a winner: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Selena Gomez, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, RZA, Tilda Swinton, Tom Waits, Danny Glover, and Rosie Perez, among others. Also, it’s a Jim Jarmusch ...

The Dead Don't Die

USA | 2019 | 103m | Jim Jarmusch
The cast list alone says The Dead Don’t Die could be a winner: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Selena Gomez, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, RZA, Tilda Swinton, Tom Waits, Danny Glover, and Rosie Perez, among others. Also, it’s a Jim Jarmusch ...

DJ NicFit Presents Fantastic Planet

France | 1973 | 72m | René Laloux
I was really stoned watching the animated French film, Fantastic Planet, for good reason—it’s trippy as fuck and can only be truly appreciated after a bong hit or two. In the distant future, humans are stolen from Earth and taken ...

Driveways

USA | 2019 | 83m | Andrew Ahn
Stranger Says: In Driveways, a mother and son travel to her dead sister’s suburban house to clean it out. Turns out said sister was a hoarder, and there is a lot of work to be done. While Kathy (Hong ...

Eastern Memories

Finland | 2018 | 86m | Niklas Kullström
Stranger Says: 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 ...

El Ángel

Argentina | 2018 | 126m | Luis Ortega
Stranger Says: 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, ...

Emma Peeters

Belgium | 2018 | 87m | Nicole Palo
Stranger Says: 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 ...

The Extraordinary Journey of Celeste Garcia

Cuba | 2018 | 92m | Arturo Infante
An underappreciated middle-aged woman, played by Volver's Maria Isabel Diaz, is chosen as one of the lucky few to be taken to an alien world to start life anew. This funny comedy is the debut of Cuban director Arturo Infante. ...

A Family Tour

Hong Kong | 2018 | 109m | Ying Liang
Stranger Says: 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 ...

The Farewell

USA | 2019 | 98m | Lulu Wang
Stranger Says: If you had a fatal disease, would you want to know? This question lies at the heart of a 2016 This American Life segment called “What You Don’t Know” by Lulu Wang. Her 80-year-old grandmother, known as ...

Fight Fam

World Premiere | USA | 2019 | 49m | Ruben Rodriguez Perez
Stranger Says: There isn’t anything particularly groundbreaking or moving about this short, locally produced documentary from Ruben Rodriguez Perez, created in part with funds from a 4Culture award grant. It’s about Amy and Dex Montenegro, the matriarch and patriarch ...

Ghost Fleet

USA | 2018 | 90m | Shannon Service
Stranger Says: 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 ...

Ghost Town Anthology

U.S. Premiere | Canada (Québec) | 2019 | 97m | Denis Côté
Stranger Says: A rural Quebecois town, riven by tragedy, is haunted by silent figures in this mysterious not-quite-horror film. Shot on 16mm, the movie explores the aftermath of a young man’s possible suicide. While the mayor insists that the ...

Go Back to China

China | 2019 | 96m | Emily Ting
Stranger Says: Inspired by her own biography, Emily Ting pitches her second feature between a Netflix girls-night-out comedy and a CW teen drama, which probably sounds terrible. It isn’t, though it’s definitely geared toward younger viewers. Sasha, a Chinese ...

Good Kisser

World Premiere | USA | 2019 | 76m | Wendy Jo Carlton
Stranger Says: Threesomes can be tricky. If someone isn’t up-front about their feelings—or is withholding information—things can get weird. This dynamic is the subject of local director and screenwriter Wendy Jo Carlton’s Good Kisser, which debuts at this year’s ...

Greener Grass

USA | 2019 | 101m | Jocelyn DeBoer
Included in SIFF's appropriately titled "WTF" series, Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe's Greener Grass follows two suburban housewives living in a WASPy paradise where manners are taken to ridiculous extremes (and a serial killer may be stalking the citizenry). (Peter ...

Halston

USA | 2019 | 105m | Frédéric Tcheng
Stranger Says: 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, ...

Here Comes Hell

United Kingdom | 2018 | 75m | Jack McHenry
Stranger Says: 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 ...

House of Hummingbird

South Korea | 2018 | 138m | Bora Kim
Stranger Says: Fourteen-year-old Eunhee has little comfort in life, whether at middle school (actual teacher quote: “We die every day”), with her tense family, or among fickle friends and crushes. She finds unexpected solace when she gets a new ...

House of My Fathers

Sri Lanka | 2018 | 95m | Suba Sivakumaran
Stranger Says: When an infertility plague sweeps the land, a man and a woman from two feuding Sri Lankan villages must venture into a haunted forest to seek a resolution. Tagging along for the trip is a “Strange Doctor” ...

Human Nature

USA | 2019 | 107m | Adam Bolt
Stranger Says: 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 ...

I Am Cuba

Cuba | 1964 | 141m | Mikhail Kalatozov
Stranger Says: Directed by Mikhail Kalatozov, and financed by the Soviet Union, I Am Cuba is an epic that contains neither hard individuals nor personal experiences, but only subjects of a world-historical movement, a mass advancement, a triumphant (and ...

I Do Not Care If We Go Down In History As Barbarians

Romania | 2018 | 140m | Radu Jude
Stranger Says: Odessa, October 1941: Invaders from Germany and their Romanian allies crush the Red Army’s defenses and murder the Jewish population of the city. According to the director of this dead-serious black comedy, Romania only officially acknowledged its ...

In Fabric

United Kingdom | 2018 | 119m | Peter Strickland
Stranger Says: 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 ...

International Falls

USA | 2019 | 93m | Amber McGinnis
Stranger Says: 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 ...

The Invisible Witness

Italy | 2018 | 97m | Stefano Mordini
Stranger Says: 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 ...

Kifaru

USA | 2019 | 81m | David Hambridge
Stranger Says: 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. ...

The Legend of the Stardust Brothers

Japan | 1985 | 100m | Macoto Tezuka
Stranger Says: 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 ...

Meeting Gorbachev

United Kingdom | 2018 | 91m | Werner Herzog
Stranger Says: "Mikhail Sergeyevich, please allow me to explain myself," says Werner Herzog. "I am a German, and the first German that you probably met wanted to kill you." So begins Herzog's affecting documentary about Mikhail Gorbachev, built chiefly ...

MEMORY - The Origins of Alien

USA | 2019 | 93m | Alexandre O. Philippe
Ridley Scott's 1979 sci/fi-horror classic gave us two indelible icons: the hypercompetent blue-collar badass Ellen Ripley and the ever-morphing phallic monster xenomorph. Alexandre O. Philippe's documentaries delve into the film's cultural background, from EC Comics to H.P. Lovecraft to screenwriter ...

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool

USA | 2019 | 115m | Stanley Nelson
Stranger Says: Miles Davis was one of the greatest musicians ever. He was also a nasty motherfucker. Stanley Nelson’s documentary Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool pivots on these two immutable elements of the jazz trumpeter’s existence with a ...

Monos

Colombia | 2019 | 102m | Alejandro Landes
Stranger Says: 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 ...

The Nightingale

Australia | 2018 | 136m | Jennifer Kent
Stranger Says: 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 ...

Non-Fiction

France | 2018 | 108m | Olivier Assayas
Stranger Says: 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 ...

Official Secrets

USA | 2019 | 112m | Gavin Hood
Stranger Says: After catching wind of a plot to lie Britain into war with Iraq, a reluctant whistleblower (Keira Knightley) finds her freedoms rapidly slipping away. Gavin Hood's firmly buttoned-up drama strictly follows the based-on-actual-events playbook, right down to ...

Orange Days

Iran | 2018 | 102m | Arash Lahooti
Stranger Says: 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 ...

Our Bodies Our Doctors

USA | 2019 | 78m | Jan Haaken
Stranger Says: 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 ...

Pachamama

France | 2019 | 72m | Juan Antin
Stranger Says: Named for the earth/fertility goddess revered by the indigenous people of the Andes, Juan Antin’s César-nominated animated adventure follows two precocious youths and their trusty animal companions from a small Peruvian village at the edge of the ...

Patrinell: The Total Experience

World Premiere | USA | 2019 | 94m | Andrew Elizaga
Stranger Says: 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 ...

Pause

Cyprus | 2018 | 95m | Tonia Mishiali
Stranger Says: 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 ...

Piazzolla, The Years of the Shark

Argentina | 2018 | 90m | Daniel Rosenfeld
Stranger Says: 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 ...

Putin’s Witnesses

Latvia | 2018 | 102m | Vitaly Mansky
Stranger Says: The United States of America elected its first dictator in 2016. Since Trump took office, he's wielded power with all the cunning and foresight of a racist, rampaging baby. But imagine if he actually wanted the job. ...

Q Ball

USA | 2019 | 97m | Michael Tolajian
Stranger Says: 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 ...

Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins

USA | 2019 | 91m | Janice Engel
Stranger Says: 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 ...

Roll Red Roll

USA | 2019 | 80m | Nancy Schwartzman
Stranger Says: 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 ...

Sink or Swim

France | 2018 | 122m | Gilles Lellouche
The charismatic French actor and director Mathieu Amalric plays an angsty middle-aged guy who puts together an all-male synchronized swim team in this comedy by Gilles Lellouche. The film was nominated for three Césars (the French equivalent of the Oscars). ...

Stuffed

Canada | 2019 | 85m | Erin Derham
Stranger Says: This is one of those documentaries where you don’t think you’re that interested in the subject matter, and maybe the whole thing seems sort of morbid, but then it ends up being really fascinating and you learn ...

Support The Girls

USA | 2018 | 91m | Andrew Bujalski
Stranger Says: Before there was mumble rap, there was mumblecore, and many believe that Andrew Bujalski’s debut film, Funny Ha Ha, is the first film in this genre, which produced many boring films but also launched the careers of ...

Swinging Safari

Australia | 2018 | 97m | Stephan Elliott
Stranger Says: 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 ...

Sword of Trust

USA | 2019 | 89m | Lynn Shelton
Stranger Says: Lynn Shelton is the first local filmmaker to open the Seattle International Film Festival twice. Her last film to kick off SIFF, Your Sister’s Sister, back in 2012, starred Emily Blunt and was set in the San ...

Take It or Leave It

Estonia | 2018 | 102m | Liina Trišhkina-Vanhatalo
Stranger Says: 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 ...

Tel Aviv on Fire

Luxembourg | 2018 | 97m | Sameh Zoabi
Set in 1967, against the backdrop of the time before the Six-Day War, Sameh Zoabi's comedy follows a lowly production assistant on a Palestinian soap opera whose chance encounter with an enthusiastic Israeli checkpoint commander begins to shape his own ...

Thin Skin Event

USA | 90m | Charles Mudede
Sneak-peek short excerpt from Seattle filmmaker and author Charles Mudede’s upcoming feature THIN SKIN. The excerpt will be followed by an on-stage interview with the creative team about the process of turning a true story into a feature film, with ...

This Is Not Berlin

Mexico | 2019 | 105m | Hari Sama
Stranger Says: 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 ...

Top End Wedding

Australia | 2019 | 103m | Wayne Blair
Viewers love this sweet story of a young Indigenous woman whose mother goes missing when she brings her non-Indigenous fiancé home to Australia's Northern Territory. Will Lauren be able to find her mama and reconcile with her? A young Australian ...

Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts

USA | 2019 | 91m | Nick Zeig-Owens
Stranger Says: 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 ...

Troop Zero

USA | 2019 | 97m | Bert & Bertie
Stranger Says: 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 ...

Vai

New Zealand | 2019 | 90m | Nicole Whippy
Watch eight vignettes centered on Indigenous women from Fiji, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, Kuki Airani (Cook Islands), Samoa, Niue, and Aotearoa (New Zealand)—studies of femininity and strength. A sequel of sorts to SIFF 2018’s breathtaking WARU, featuring eight vignettes directed ...

We Are the Radical Monarchs

USA | 2019 | 96m | Linda Goldstein Knowlton
Meet the Radical Monarchs, an Oakland-based group for girls of color who advocate for social justice in the face of the hope-crushing machine that is post-2016 American society. Follow the founding and growth of the Radical Monarchs, an Oakland-based alternative ...

Who Let the Dogs Out

Canada | 2019 | 70m | Brent Hodge
Stranger Says: I always thought it was obvious who let the dogs out: the 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 ...

Widow of Silence

India | 2018 | 85m | Praveen Morchhale
Stranger Says: 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, ...

The Wild

World Premiere | USA | 2019 | 60m | Mark Titus
Stranger Says: In 2014's The Breach, director Mark Titus addressed the salmon crisis in the Northwest United States—in particular, in Bristol Bay in Alaska, where a Canadian mining company threatened the ecosystem where sockeye salmon thrived. When The Breach ...

The Woman Who Loves Giraffes

Canada | 2018 | 83m | Alison Reid
Stranger Says: 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 ...

X - The eXploited

Hungary | 2018 | 114m | Károly Ujj Mészáros
Stranger Says: 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 ...

Yesterday

United Kingdom | 2019 | 112m | Danny Boyle
Stranger Says: 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 ...

Yuli

Spain | 2018 | 104m | Icíar Bollaín
Learn about the life of famed Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta from this documentary by Iciar Bollain. Legendary dancer Carlos Acosta looks back on a troubled, transcendent life—from a tough working-class upbringing to the pinnacle of his artistry—in this heartfelt biography ...