Jordan Peele's newest horror film, Us, which stars Lupita Nyong’o, opens March 21. Claudette Barius
Below, we've rounded up the top film events and openings for the season, from the gargantuan Seattle International Film Festival to Jordan Peele’s new horror movie Us to Pokémon Detective Pikachu. You can also find a complete list of film events in Seattle this spring on our Things To Do calendar, or check out the rest of our critics' picks from Seattle Art and Performance.

FILM FESTIVALS & SERIES



March 21 & April 18

Nocturnal Emissions Series Local sex-positive horror maven Isabella Price hosts this series on third Thursdays of classic slashers and supernatural chillers, with a burlesque performance and other fun before every screening. The remaining films are Wes Craven's cannibal satire The People Under the Stairs and the woman-directed Slumber Party Massacre II. (Northwest Film Forum)


March 23–31 & April 6–7

Seattle Jewish Film Festival This annual film festival explores and celebrates global Jewish and Israeli life, history, complexity, culture, and filmmaking. It showcases international, independent, and award-winning Jewish-themed and Israeli cinema, and the audience votes on their favorites. Most of the films are shown in March; in April, the fest migrates to the Eastside. This year's VIP guest is Jamie Bernstein, author and daughter of the famous composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein (West Side Story, Candide). Special events will include a performance by Garfield High School Jazz Combo, the Sunday Klezmer Brunch & Sports Film, and the Sephardic Spotlight. (Various locations)


April 4–25

Cadence Video Poetry Festival NWFF, in association with programmer Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, celebrates National Poetry Month with a "cinepoem" series, with screenings and workshops for youth and adults. Cine-poetry can be anything from a visual adaptation of an existing poem to "poets creating video from, or as, their writing." (Northwest Film Forum)


April 11–14

Cascadia International Women's Film Festival This festival in the small, artsy city of Bellingham showcases women's filmmaking every year. Don't miss Edge of the Knife, the first-ever feature to be exclusively filmed in the Haida language. (Bellingham)


Sat April 13 & Sat June 15

Pr0n 4 Freakz ScumTrust Productions and NWFF are partnering to bring you queer and trans smut. Arrive early to hang out with freaky new friends and shop the "sexy witch market." Stay on after the dirty movie for a Q&A on sex, pleasure, queerness, and gender. (Northwest Film Forum)


April 15 & May 6

Silent Movie Mondays The Paramount presents silent-era masterpieces and rediscovered European treasures with live musical accompaniment: The City Without Jews/Die Stadt Ohne Juden (April 15, with a commissioned score by Gunter A. Buchwald performed by Music of Remembrance) and A Man There Was/Terje Vigen (May 6, with Tedde Gibson on the Mighty Wurlitzer organ). (Paramount Theatre)


April 19–20

SPLIFF Film Fest Hey stoners, have you heard the most important news of 2019? We're baking up a trippy new film festival! The creators of HUMP! and Savage Love have created SPLIFF. It's the world's first film festival created by the stoned, for the stoned. Expect trippy films, comedic shorts, quickie documentaries, parodies of anti-pot educational films (think Reefer Madness), total mind-fucks, and maybe even some pot-influenced actual fucks. (21-plus only, thanks!) CB (SIFF Cinema Egyptian)


May 2–5

Translations: Seattle Transgender Film Festival Here is something that Seattle should take pride in. We have the world's largest trans film festival. Not Berlin, not London, not New York City—but Seattle. The festival is called Translations, and it features a bunch of films from places that do not have the largest trans film festival. CM (Northwest Film Forum)


May 3–4

HUMP! Film Festival Missed Dan Savage's boisterous festival of amateur porn, HUMP!, back in November? No worries! The films will be re-screened in all their raunchy glory. This year's festival was wilder than ever, full of kink, queerdom, and...human goats? Don't miss out. (SIFF Cinema Uptown)


Through May 16

British Comedy Classics The finest British comedies of the 1940s and '50s—Green for Danger, The Man in the White Suit, The Lavender Hill Mob—have aged marvelously well, thanks to understated, funny scripts and endlessly watchable professionals. Catch a vintage treasure every Thursday at the museum. (Seattle Art Museum)


May 16–June 9

Seattle International Film Festival The 45th annual Seattle International Film Festival is the largest film festival in the United States, with more than 400 films (spread over 25 days) watched by around 150,000 people. It's impressively grand and one of the most exciting and widely attended arts events Seattle has to offer. (Various locations)


FILM OPENINGS AND SCREENINGS



Wed March 20

Island of the Hungry Ghosts Embarrassingly, I had no idea what Christmas Island was before I stumbled onto this film. It sounds cute and jolly, but it's not. It's been referred to as Australia's Guantánamo; an island filled with refugees, asylum seekers, and detained immigrants. People go in and they don't come out. It's haunting, and currently the subject of a dramatic political debate in that southernmost continent. Filmmaker Gabrielle Brady has created an arresting, emotional documentary about the island's effects. CB (Northwest Film Forum)


March 21–24

What Is Democracy? This may not sound like a strange question: What is democracy? But it is. Why? Because democracy is not as obvious as we normally think it is. In our own moment (which is described as neoliberal), the second-largest economy in the world, China, is not a democracy. The iPhones in your hands were made by workers who do not vote. Democracy is not an automatic occurrence. It is odd. And, I think, this is the understanding of the new documentary by the director of Zizek!. This political ideology needs to be examined and explained. CM (Northwest Film Forum)


Opening Thurs March 21

Us We live in strange times. If we all went back to 2012 or 2013 and told those watching the Key & Peele show that Jordan Peele would end up, at the end of the decade, not only writing and directing a blockbuster horror film, Get Out, but also hosting a reboot of Twilight Zone, and, damn, also directing a second horror film called Us, they would have said: "You crazy." CM (Wide release)


March 22–24

Wrestle Four teenage wrestlers in one of Alabama's failing schools vie for sports success—and opportunities otherwise closed to them—in Suzanne Herbert and Lauren Belfer's multi-award-winning documentary, pitched as Hoop Dreams on the mat. (Northwest Film Forum)


March 22–26

Howl's Moving Castle When it comes to animation gods, there's Hayao Miyazaki, and then there's everybody else. Although reportedly considering retirement after completing the Oscar-winning Spirited Away, Miyazaki was apparently intrigued enough by the prospect of adapting a novel by children's author Diana Wynne Jones to return to the drawing board. ANDREW WRIGHT (Central Cinema)


March 22-28

Birds of Passage Directors Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego, who previously collaborated on the wondrous Embrace of the Serpent, return with a Colombian epic about an indigenous family who become beneficiaries, then victims, of the marijuana trade. (Grand Illusion)


March 24 & 27

To Kill a Mockingbird At its root, I can't stand this film. As a black person, it offends me. The story about a black man who is about to be executed for a crime he clearly did not commit ends up being all about his white lawyer. But why recommend it? Because it shows exactly how the US struggled and often failed to get to the core of its deep racist history by a path that proved to be empty: white empathy. For a black viewer, it really tells us what we are up against. Not just racism, but also hollow empathy. CM (AMC Pacific Place & Regal Thornton Place)


March 29–April 2

O Brother, Where Art Thou? The jaunty, slapstick-filled, bluegrass-scored adaptation of the Odyssey never gets old, thanks to that obsessively detailed yet effortlessly goofy Coen Brothers touch. (Central Cinema)


March 30–31

A Bread Factory: Parts One and Two In Patrick Wang's subversive two-part comedy, the married lesbian founders of a small-town arts center are alarmed when a pair of Chinese performance artists build a monster-sized complex down the road. (Northwest Film Forum)


Opening Fri April 5

Peterloo In 1819, forces of the British crown attacked 60,000 democratic protesters on St. Peter's Field in Manchester. The great left-wing filmmaker Mike Leigh helms this historical drama set in his hometown. (Limited release)

Transit A man takes advantage of a dead author's papers to flee the Nazi occupation—but in Marseilles, he meets the wife of the man he's impersonating, who doesn't realize her husband has died. (SIFF Cinema Uptown)


April 5–10

The Fifth Element It's Luc Besson's futuristic semi-classic, starring Bruce Willis, the musician Tricky, and love. (Central Cinema)


April 10–12

The Fate of Lee Khan A badass army of female warriors hunts an official of the Mongol Court, who's stolen a map of the Chinese resistance's bases, in King Hu's 1973 wuxia classic. (Northwest Film Forum)


Opening Fri April 12

Long Day's Journey into Night Chinese filmmaker Bi Gan likes to experiment with form, time, and space. This melodrama about a man searching for the woman he loves in Southwest China is divided into two parts: one chronological, one dreamlike and non linear. (SIFF Cinema Uptown)


April 14 & 17

Ben-Hur The one thing you have to enjoy in a movie like Ben-Hur, produced 60 years ago, is the enormous number of extras. When watching these kinds of films in the 21st century, one has to marvel not at the story (dumb) and acting (dumb), but at all of the actual human beings who fill this and that scene. It's fucking insane. So many bodies. Real bodies. Bodies not generated by computers. Wow. Ben-Hur. CM (AMC Pacific Place & Regal Thornton Place)


Wed April 17

Black Representation in Horror: 'Candyman' The genius of Jordan Peele notwithstanding, horror in mass culture is still pretty white—but there have always been exceptions! Watch the 1992 chiller Candyman, which cast Tony Todd as the terrifying bee-gargling specter, and discuss with "Oprah of the Underworld" Isabella Price. (Central Cinema)


Opening Wed April 17

Penguins A cute Adélie penguin named Steve pals up with emperor penguin Wuzzo in this new nature doc from the Disneynature studio. The footage looks gorgeous, if nothing else. (Wide release)


Thurs April 18

Life of Brian This deathless masterpiece is as smart, silly, and overpoweringly hilarious as it was in 1979. Life of Brian's ingenious production design (by Terry Gilliam, no less) and whole-cloth satirical takedown of religious/ideological idiocy gives it the nod as the most essential of Monty Python's features. SEAN NELSON (SIFF Cinema Uptown)


April 19–24

Monty Python and the Holy Grail Join the valiant Knights of the Round Table in their struggles with deadly rabbits, sorcerous riddlers, castle-bound sexpots, and Terry Gilliam's delightfully disturbing animated sequences. (Central Cinema)

Night of the Living Dead The George Romero classic that spawned a thousand zombie flicks—not to mention essays on race relations in America. The ravenous dead besiege a group of white survivors, who are led by a determined African American man (Duane Jones). Low-budget, occasionally laughable...and still a punch in the gut. (Central Cinema)


Wed April 24

Tomorrow Never Knows Adam Sekuler, who'll be visiting the Forum for this screening, filmed couple Shar and Cynthia as Shar began to succumb to Alzheimer's. This doc examines the onset of death and breakdown of the personality, paying tribute to Shar's bravery. (Northwest Film Forum)


Opening Fri April 26

Avengers: Endgame We all know what happened in the last Avengers movie, right? Clearly, the superheroes have a lot of cleaning up to do: basically the entire universe. (Wide release)


Opening Fri May 3

Ask Dr. Ruth On a recent episode of The View, the 90-year-old sex therapist and media personality warned the roundtable of women that threesomes are "very bad" for a marriage. "Do not engage in a threesome," she said, "because that third person might be a better lover." This is bad advice. Have threesomes. But this documentary isn't about Dr. Ruth's advice, it's about Dr. Ruth. And damn, her story's long overdue for a good documentary. She is a pioneer, and a very funny one. CB (SIFF Cinema Uptown)


Opening Fri May 10

Pokémon Detective Pikachu Two years ago, Pokémon Go took over the world just like Pokémon Red and Blue did in the '90s, and now this: a blockbuster live-action animated Pokémon movie. Based on a 2016 Nintendo 3DS game of the same name, Detective Pikachu is the first live-action film set in the Pokémon universe, and it stars actor Justice Smith alongside a fuzzy, talking Pikachu voiced by Ryan Reynolds. It shouldn't work, and yet when I saw the trailer, I was instantly smitten—and scared. Jigglypuff looks fucking terrifying. CB (Wide release)


Sat May 11

Shelf Life
Paul Bartels's black comedy is about three warped adults raised in a bomb shelter, where their parents hid with them after the Kennedy assassination. After the screening, renowned PNW director Lynn Shelton will facilitate a Q&A with co-writers O-Lan Jones, Andrea Stein, and Jim Turner. (Northwest Film Forum)


Opening Fri May 24

Brightburn This highly anticipated horror/sci-fi movie is a dark-universe version of Superman. A childless couple joyfully adopts an alien baby that looks just like a human...but is something much more powerful and (arguably) more destructive. (Wide release)


Opening Fri June 7

Dark Phoenix Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) begins to turn into an insanely powerful and destructive being, and the other Marvel heroes have to weigh her life against the entire world's welfare. (Wide release)