Historically speaking, there has been only one reason to check out the film programming at Bumbershoot: the air conditioning. You will get hot and sweaty and tired of standing at our city's most crowded arts festival; and SIFF Cinema at McCaw Hall is there to cool you down, to dry you off, to rest your weary feet. Besides, it's kind of exciting to go to the cinema like people used to do when entertainment was dear and movies were cheap. Just show up, sit down—halfway through the show if they let you—and take what you can get.
But there are a few don't-miss slots in the lineup this year. Fans of Miranda July—plus anyone who thought Me and You and Everyone We Know was overly cute or precious—should not miss July's showing for Bumbershoot, The Short Films of Miranda July (Mon, 7 pm). Made when she was more riot grrrl than indie-movie queen, these shorts are fervently experimental. I'm sorry the early and brilliant short Atlanta got left out, but Nest of Tens, about ritual and obsessive behavior, puts a whole new slant on the unsettling parts of her better-known feature.
Thanks to more ambitious programming by the Seattle International Film Festival, the regular lineup includes a good deal of experimental work, as well—it's a welcome change from the cutesy student calling cards that used to clutter the festival. SIFF programmer Anita Monga told me she's especially excited about Fascination, a animated-shorts program that includes El Doctor, a film about a physician and drunk whose feeble diagnostic skills are altogether transformed by a visit from a saint (Mon, 9 pm). Other solid choices are Dystopia (Sat, 9 pm), The Outer Limits (Sun, 9 pm), and Stranger than Fiction (Mon, 4:30 pm). Or just show up whenever—the air conditioning will be on all weekend.