Monday, May 14, 2018

12 SIFF 2018 Films You Need To See

The Seattle International Film Festival is an ungainly monster. It runs almost four full weeks (25 days), more if you hit up press screenings and screeners that start two weeks ahead of time, and features more than 400 movies, 168 of them features. You’ll find things that literally won’t see anywhere else. And while that’s awesome, wading through everything gets a bit much.

My must-sees change and evolve over the course of SIFF. They always do. Every year, I miss things I wanted to see and love random films I’d never heard of before. Hell, over the ten years I’ve covered the fest, at least a few of my favorites from every installment come from recommendations I get from people in line, asking strangers what blew their hair back. Every year. But as of right now, these are the SIFF 2018 films I’m most excited to see.

I’ve already seen a bunch of these. It’s pretty obvious which ones. Others have made a bunch of noise on the festival circuit, come from filmmakers who’s work I love, or just look rad. And this is only a sampling. My initial run through the SIFF program guide left me with 56 features on my list. These are the highlights. We’ll see how many I actually make.

There’s actually a decent slate of horror films—it can be hit and miss from year to year—but for some reason, most of them didn’t wind up on this list. That’s weird. But rest assured, if it looks horror-ish, I’ll be there.

Keep checking back HERE throughout SIFF for my reviews. I'm also covering the fest for The Seattle Times again this year, so be sure to follow along for my reviews there. 

Sorry to Bother You

From Boots Riley, the frontman of radical hip hop collective The Coup, Sorry to Bother You is a nutty racial satire set in the near future where a lowly telemarketer discovers he has a gift that will lift him to great heights. With Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, and Armie Hammer, the dystopian feature is surreal and drug-fueled and looks all kinds of bonkers.

Dead Pigs

Before Cathy Yan becomes the first Asian-American woman to helm a major comic book movie—she’s been tapped to helm a Harley Quinn/Birds of Prey movie for DC—you can check out her feature debut, Dead Pigs, at SIFF 2018. And don’t you want to be that dickhead who says, “Well, I’ve been a fan since…” You know you do.

Wrath of Silence

A western-inspired Chinese crime saga? You had me at hello. This class-conscious tale follows a mute miner with a violent past—he bit off his own tongue in a fight—who sets off on a journey of retribution after his son is kidnapped.

The Guilty

You wouldn’t think a dude sitting in a single location talking on the phone for 85 minutes would be thrilling and exhilarating, but Gustav Moller’s The Guilty is just that. It’s a tense, clever, twisting ride that sucks the air out of your lungs multiple times.

First Reformed

Paul Schrader’s First Reformed is another title makig waves on the festival circuit. An A24 film already has our eyes on it, but Ethan Hawke—I’m real into this current stage of his career—playing a pastor dealing with his troubled past, a crisis of faith, and a radical environmentalist, you have my full, undivided attention.

Hearts Beat Loud

Brett Haley’s Hearts Beat Loud looks almost too adorable for words. The comedic drama about a father/daughter musical duo going through a transition period in their lives could be too cutesy, but with Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Toni Collette, Ted Danson, and Blythe Danner, the upside is too high to pass up.

Tigers are Not Afraid

If Guillermo del Toro names your movie his favorite of 2017, you’re onto something. Tigers Are Not Afraid tells a dark fairy tale about kids dealing both with drug cartel violence and the ghosts created by said violence. Yeah, Issa Lopez’ gritty fantasy sounds right up my alley.


A grim, brutal, feminist-as-fuck rape-revenge film from new French director Coralie Fargeat, you know you’re in for a rough watch. But everything I’ve heard, it’s also supposed to be an amazing evolution of the New French Extremity. If you can’t make the lone midnight SIFF screening, don’t worry. The aptly titled Revenge actually got a limited theatrical and VOD release on May 11 (including at Seattle’s own Grand Illusion), a few days before the fest begins.


Longtime pals Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal wrote this buddy comedy/intense look at race, police violence, and gentrification that follows a recent parolee (Diggs) as he tries to avoid going back to prison, a task made difficult by his off-the-chain BFF (Casal). If there’s any justice in the world, this is the first step to Diggs becoming a massive star.

Three Identical Strangers

Three Identical Strangers is one of those documentaries it’s best to go into as cold as possible. It’s a true story that’s so bizarre you expect someone to show up and tell you it’s all been an elaborate prank. When three total strangers discover they’re actually identical triplets separated at birth, that’s just the beginning of a strange, dark saga that leaves your jaw on the floor.

Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts

After surviving an attack and robbery by a group of entitled locals, Marlina sets out on a quest for justice and revenge in this spare, gorgeous neo-western from Indonesia. She also spends most of the movie walking around holding a severed head, so there’s that. See it on as big a screen as possible.


Joseph Kahn’s satiric rap battle picture Bodied set the festival circuit on fire last year. It’s been one I’ve been dying to see ever since, and now we can as it touches down in Seattle near the end of SIFF.

1 comment:

George said...

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