Seattle 2016: Documentary Overview

SIFF_2016_WebsiteHeader_800x450(0)Tonight, Thursday, May 19 sees the kick-off of the three-week-long Seattle International Film Festival. The 42nd edition of the popular event will wrap on Sunday, June 12 after presenting scores of new and retrospective films, including approximately 75 feature documentaries. In addition to several competitive and thematic strands, organizers have grouped the lineup according to eight “Moods,” several of which are covered below:

NalediNonfiction figures heavily in “Open My Eyes,” a section for revelatory films, including the world premieres of: Leah Warshawski and Todd Soliday’s BIG SONIA, a portrait of a short woman with an outsized personality; Kate Dandel’s GOLD BALLS, which follows elder athletes in their quest to win the senior tennis circuit; Sue Williams’ DEATH BY DESIGN, an exploration of the environmental and health risks of our technology-addicted society; Kathlyn Horan’s THE IF PROJECT, which looks at a writing program for female prisoners; Naotaro Endo’s TSUKIJI WONDERLAND, a day in the life of Tokyo’s largest seafood market; Aaron Bear’s FINDING KIM, about a fifty-year-old FTM’s transition; Ben Bowie and Geoff Luck’s NALEDI: A BABY ELEPHANT’S TALE (pictured), about an orphaned elephant; Jennifer Galvin and Sachi Cunningham’s THE MEMORY OF FISH, on the dam removal on Washington’s Elwha River; Matt Wechsler’s SUSTAINABLE, an exploration of the sustainable food movement in America; and Leila Conners’ WE THE PEOPLE 2.0, about grassroots efforts challenging corporations on environmental grounds.

babelAlso evidencing significant documentary presence is “Creative Streak,” a multidisciplinary look at artistic expression, which includes the world premieres of David Novack’s FINDING BABEL (pictured), about dissident Soviet author Isaac Babel through his grandson’s eyes; and Martin Bell’s TINY: THE LIFE OF ERIN BLACKWELL, which revisits a memorable subject from Mary Ellen Mark’s STREETWISE; as well as the North American premieres of Miguel Ángel Vidaurre’s RED GRINGO, about an American singer who found pop stardom in socialist Latin America; and Iñigo Ruiz and Alfonso Cortés-Cavanillas’ DECONSTRUCTING DANI GARCÍA, on a Spanish chef’s reinvention.

kedi“Show Me the World” offers explorations of other lands, with work such as Bernardo Arsuaga’s THE WEEKEND SAILOR, about a novice Mexican seaman’s trip around the world; Ceyda Torun’s KEDI (pictured), a consideration of Istanbul’s cats; Emiliano Mazza de Luca’s NUEVA VENECIA, a profile of a Colombian fishing village; and Hogir Hirori’s THE GIRL WHO SAVED MY LIFE, about the filmmaker’s encounter with an orphaned girl in his native Kurdistan.

ActionComandanteFinally, provocative stories take the spotlight in “Dare,” which includes the world premiere of Nadine Angel Cloete’s ACTION COMANDANTE (pictured), which explores the impact of a slain anti-aprtheid freedom fighter on South African youth. Most of the fest’s other Mood sections – such as “Make Me Laugh,” “Thrill Me,” and “WTF” – include additional docs, representing recent nonfiction that has premiered elsewhere on the circuit this year.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Overviews, Recommendations

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