Jesus Christ, this is a lot of movies. As usual, SIFF is big (bigger than last year, not as big as the year before that): 392 total films from 62 countries, comprising 199 features, 54 documentaries, 11 archivals, 4 in the Secret Festival, and 124 shorts. Whether or not Seattle is clamoring to watch 392 films in 25 days is unclear (the ever-present question—wouldn't, say, 300 fucking movies be sufficient?), but don't feel overwhelmed. There are plenty of treasures among the multitude, and Stranger writers have worked their eyeballs to the eyebone to bring you more original reviews than one human could physically read in a lifetime (not scientifically verified).
SIFF has made better—and lighter—choices with this year's gala films: Opening night is In the Loop, an alternately dry and goofy British satire about stupid, stupid governments; the centerpiece is Seattle filmmaker Lynn Shelton's Humpday, late of Sundance and Cannes; and the closing night is OSS 117: Lost in Rio, which is about a Frenchman in a very small bathing suit. There are more local films than ever before, and they've added screenings on the Eastside and in West Seattle. This year's SIFF is also an Academy-Award-qualifying festival for short films, resulting in more entries of perceptibly higher quality. And beyond that, there's all your usual SIFFy action: people having a hard time in life, a lot of action on the Kazakh steppe, French madcappery, Siberian rape, Chinese gymnastics, and all the rest. Enjoy!