SIFF Notes provide you with the combined efforts of cinephiles, film scribes, and lowly interns who've studied, taught, and analyzed what film festivals mean to cinema as a whole and to you in particular. Opinions expressed in these notes aren't rigid dogma meant to discourage your intellectual exploration. You should use them as starting points to open yourself to new methods of encouraging, understanding, and appreciating the behemoth that is SIFF. Acquire some knowledge about the director and the film, and then see the film itself, reviewing and consulting SIFF Notes when necessary.

SIFF Notes give you the basics-information about the films (country of origin, theater and showtime information, and critical analysis), a full programming grid, and a list of special events-to help you make more informed decisions about what films to see and more fully enjoy the ones you choose. A film festival can be a daunting experience, especially for novices. SIFF Notes are intended to help make your cinematic gambling as painless and responsible as possible.

One final note: This year The Stranger once again held its 28 Seconds film contest, wherein local filmmakers were given the challenge of creating an entertaining film lasting a mere 28 seconds. From the overwhelming amount of entries we received, one winner was chosen: Astronaut vs. Caveman by Sean Reid, which can be viewed before the following Stranger-sponsored films in the festival: 3-Iron (Sat May 21, 6:30 pm; Sun May 22, 4:15 pm); The Gits (Sat May 28, 9:00 pm; Mon May 30, 3:45 pm); My Summer of Love (Fri May 20, 7:00 pm; Sat May 21, 4:15 pm); and Tropical Malady (Fri June 3, 9:30 pm; Mon June 6, 4:00 pm).

-Bradley Steinbacher, Film Editor