Andy Spletzer

I've always enjoyed the three-day Filmmakers' Forum; not as an opportunity to learn about the art of writing and the appreciation of film, but to learn about the almighty business of moviemaking, particularly the business of independent film. Friday is devoted to the ups and downs of shooting on digital video, while Saturday has a panel devoted to the influence of critics on independent film, not to mention the unveiling of the Fly Filmmaking films and filmmakers.

As for films, I saw Tom Tykwer's Deadly Maria years ago and liked it so much I was disappointed it never got any sort of release, so I look forward to the opportunity to see it again. My fondness for that film also helps me look forward to his follow-up, Run Lola Run, though I have heard mixed-to-good stuff about it. I'll see local boy John Jeffcoat's Bingo: The Documentary and maybe the Sneak Preview, but not the closing night movie, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Oversold even before tickets went on sale, even the press can't get in to see that. But the party should be another thing entirely....

Bruce Reid

Are you still going to the Film Festival? Hell, I've burned out already, and it's only the midpoint as I write this. By the final weekend, it really needs to be something special to drag me back into a dark theater. Fortunately for me, SIFF's wrap-up week is dominated by lame films from England and America, which allows for plenty of guilt-free TV watching. There are a few points of interest, though the only screening that even approaches must-see status is a rare screening of Jacques Becker's 1960 Le Trou, by all accounts one of the greatest prison movies.

Other than that? I've heard raves about Tom Tykwer's Run Lola Run, but they're the kind of raves (feel-good alert!) that make me wary. The Bed sounds intriguing, mostly because it's hard to tell from summaries if it's poking fun at macho hysteria or feminine duplicity, or both (if it's any good). It's also Shinichi Tsutsumi week at the festival; the Japanese actor stars in two films, the could-be-good mystery Keiho, and the enjoyable Unlucky Monkey, which I might go see again. Then again, I might not. So many choices, so little desire to choose.

Gillian G. Gaar

All the other archival films SIFF has shown this year have been great, so the French prison drama Le Trou should be worth checking out for that reason alone. Another film set in the realm of gangsters is Germany's Run Lola Run, which is getting rave write-ups seemingly everywhere, but it's also set for a wider release post-SIFF. To Walk with Lions celebrates the beauty of the so-called "lower animals," and includes Richard Harris as a conservationist.

On the surface, Get Real appears to be yet another teenage coming-out story, but it's also said to be a grade above the recent barrage of similarly themed films, chiefly because of its humor. I'm also tempted by Battleship Potemkin, as I love seeing silent films with live musical accompaniment. And don't forget the Sneak Preview, Saturday June 5: like the Secret Fest, you pays your money and you takes your chances. One year the Sneak film was Lily Tomlin's The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe; another year it was (ulp!) Dirty Dancing.

Charles Mudede

In 1905 Russia declared war on Japan, and lost. Ninety-four years later, Russia and Japan are at war again, except this time it's not over land or resources, but over who has offered SIFF the most impressive list of films. The way it stands so far, it seems we may have a tie on our hands. For the final week, the Russians have two films that promise great things: MuMu, and a screening of Battleship Potemkin, with a live score by the Bellevue Philharmonic. Meanwhile, the Japanese also have two worthy features: Unlucky Monkey and Keiho. Unlucky Monkey has a stunning opening, and ends--like all great films should--with a man rising from the dead. Keiho is a Kafka-esque psychological thriller, directed by veteran Japanese director Yoshimitsu Morita.

Other films of note are the German film Run Lola Run, which has generated a lot of media attention, and Carl Franklin's masterpiece One False Move, written by and starring Billy Bob Thornton. I also plan to watch This Space Between Us just for its enticing title (I also did this with The Shores of Twilight--an amazing title, but a thoroughly disappointing film). Then, during the closing night party, I'll start wondering what to do now that it's over.

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