Seattle International Film Festival, 2024 Edition – A Preview of SIFFTY, and my First Ever SIFF 

It’s time for the 50th Anniversary of the Seattle International Film Festival, taking place May 9th to the 19th. And it’s my first time ever attending the festival. For this film and festival die-hard, this is a very personal journey for me to go to Seattle to take part in 11 days of movies, Q&A’s, parties and events in one of my favourite cities in the United States. 

As a regular attendee of major film festivals in Toronto and Austin, Seattle has always been JUST outside of my radar of my home city of Victoria, BC, as for a long time I felt the festival was far too long to make the trip to attend. With the festival much shorter and with most of the main venues within walking distance of each other, making the trip on the Clipper Ferry from Victoria was a pretty easy one. 

But there are more reasons. So why Seattle and SIFF, to break out of my usual festivals? The answer has been a year in the making for this festival journalist. The main reason I want to attend are the venues themselves and this pilgrimage to Seattle has been a year in the making. It took off for me when at last year’s opening, at the gala screening of PAST LIVES at the Paramount Theatre (which, ironically, was the original Cinerama venue in the 1950s before the Seattle Cinerama opened in 1963), it was announced that my favourite cinema in the world, Seattle Cinerama (pictured above), would be reopening under the festival’s care and is now known as SIFF Cinema Downtown. I cheered out loud when I learned this news and since then have been making plans to come to the city for the festival and wish it a happy half century. I did a few festivals in the meantime, but SIFF 2024 is a dream that is about to come true. 

This, of course, is in addition to SIFF CInema Uptown (now over 100 years old!), the mammoth SIFF Cinema Egyptian and the gorgeous AMC Pacific Place finishing off the downtown venues. There are also venues outside of the downtown core at the Majestic Bay location along with Shoreline College, both a car or transit ride outside of the city.

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SIFF celebrates the festival by opening with THELMA, a true show-case for actor June Squibb and also starring the likes of Parker Posey and  Malcolm McDowell where Squibb plays a woman seeking revenge after a call scammer gets her out of $10,000. Ms. Squibb will be honoured with a special tribute along with attending the opening gala screening at the Paramount Theatre along with a tribute lunch and talk at SIFF Cinema Downtown the following days at the festival. 

The festival closes with SING SING on the finishing Saturday night. For your convenience, I have a blurb about the movie below but if you are attending SIFF this is an absolute not-miss event as there is Oscar buzz around Colman Domingo’s lead performance. 

Inbetween the galas there will be ten-plus days of documentaries, narrative features, foreign films, movies made for families and many, many festival favourites, curated by an incredibly strong team of programmers who absolutely know their movies. While the term “there is something for everyone” isn’t always accurate for film festivals, the SIFF team really 

Throughout the fest you are going to hear more about what is playing at SIFF, but because of the aforementioned TIFF and SxSW festivals I have seen several of the movies playing at SIFF already, so I come bearing gifts! with love from my festival travels. Read below for the ten films NOT to miss at SIFFTY! 




From filmmakers Kelly O’Sullivan and Alex Thompson, GHOSTLIGHT was the best movie that I saw at South By Southwest in Austin earlier this year. In fact, the two also had another movie at SxSW called SAINT FRANCES that was also on my best list of that respective year of 2019. And to my delight, where SAINT FRANCES was a comedy, GHOSTLIGHT is one of the most effective independent dramas I have seen in years. What starts as a family drama becomes something deep and powerful for its entire running time, with the main cast being a real family based out of Chicago. Like with SAINT FRANCES, O’Sullivan and Thompson have complete attention to detail and command over their vision and are some of the best independent filmmakers working today. This movie is absolutely not to be missed, especially if you are a theatre fan.



This is SIFF’s closing gala which will take place at the SIFF Cinema Downtown, and will be an extraordinary way to see this gorgeous, shot-on-film drama that has had raves and Oscar buzz ever since I saw the movie at TIFF last fall and is even another story about theatre. The movie is led by a breathtaking performance by Colman Domingo (recently seen in THE COLOR PURPLE remake), leading a cast who use theatre and performance as a coping mechanism for their mental health. Filmmaker Greg Kwedar, who will be attending next week, has total control ov and the movie takes so many surprising and emotional turns that I dare not reveal, but this will be a great finish to the 2024 edition. 



Led by two incredible performances by Justice Smith (recently seen in THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MAGICAL NEGROES) and Brigette Lundy-Paine, I SAW THE TV GLOW is a LGBT friendly story about two people who find solace in one wacky TV show called THE PINK OPAQUE, but their connection runs much deeper, leading to a second half that I can’t even explain, but left the audience riveted when it screened at SxSW earlier this year. Filmmaker Jane Schoenbrun takes a lot of chances here and it’s one that I know I want to see again. One of the most unique and daring friendship turned horror movies that I have seen so far this year. A24 will be releasing the movie later in May and I really hope it gains a cult audience. The ultimate trip! 

SIFF Media


A true human drama/comedy that absolutely wowed me at TIFF last fall was this love story that takes place, of all things, in a chicken factory in Northern England after an ex-flame comes to town. While the concept seems familiar its presentation is absolutely unique as it features some jaw-dropping sequences where our leads turn to music for escape, along with sequences of pure love like also a tender relationship not only between the two lovers, but also the mother of one of the characters. Read my TIFF reaction!

Courtesy of Focus Features / Tal Izaac Wang stars as “Chris” in writer/director Sean Wang’s DÌDI, a Focus Features release. Credit: Courtesy of Focus Features / Talking Fish Pictures LLC © 2024 All Rights Reserved.


Get your late 2000’s social media on with a complete love letter to the masterwork that was AOL Instant Messenger matched with a coming of age story of young Didi who is making his way through middle school. The performance by (name here) is absolutely incredible, and it’s also wonderful to see great support from the legendary Joan Chen as his mother. The two of them have some of the most emotionally strong moments together that you will see at the festival, along with big laughs at just how far we have evolved in social media. 

SIFF Media


A very careful and considerate study of people of different backgrounds clashing with other characters. EVIL DOES NOT EXIST is from filmmaker  Ryûsuke Hamaguchi. whose DRIVE MY CAR was an favourite of mine from a few years ago, even at its near epic, three hour running time. This latest movie is almost half the length but just as fascinating, as it presents a subject of modernization coming to a small mountain village that seems to be stuck decades in the past. The small Japanese town has such a similarity to many small towns here in the Pacific Northwest so viewers will relate to a lot of it. The effect that this potential change in their town starts as a simple city-versus-local, switches to the big city, and then the two worlds collide in such a stunning final act that left me speechless. 

(Note: the SIFF Cinema Uptown screening has had all advance tickets sold out for weeks so if you plan to go to either show, get their early if you are a pass holder!) 

Game Theory Films


I remember meeting filmmaker Meredith Hama-Brown many years ago at the genre fest Fantastic Fest in Austin and was impressed already by her work. As a fellow BC-native, it was also great to see her from time to time at festivals at home. Finally, Meredith is here with her terrific and visually powerful feature debut that as already enjoyed a theatrical release in Canada and is still making its way through festivals in the US. SEAGRASS is both a telling story about marriage but also a coming of age story at the same time, both involving a married couple headed out to a couples’ therapy retreat along with the effect that it has on their kids who are both going through personal issues. Lensed on film negative by the always outstanding Norm Li that features the British Columbia shoreline in fascinating detail, this very slow-burn becomes quite effective in the second half, especially when secrets about everyone’s past start to be revealed. I loved how there is a balance of time between the husband and wife as they connect with another married couple (notable here is the always great Sarah Gadon in a supporting role) and the children, who are both incredibly natural here. The movie has a slight but eventual build, a dread forming and especially a great couple of sequences where we see terror of a beach spot from the child’s perspective makes for some pretty terrific storytelling.

SIFF Media


This is such a difficult movie to pin down, but it’s essential viewing if you are a fan of Harmony Korine’s work. The filmmaker has never been one to shy away from trying new things, and this genre-bending, color-negative reversed heist is more of a movie that you feel and get inside its own rhythm rather than follow a cohesive storyline. I never saw so many walkouts than I did at TIFF last year, and in a way that’s okay. I had so many arguments about the movie at TIFF and I hope to get into a few conversations about this one in Seattle. Bonus points if you get to view this at the SIFF Cinema Downtown with that screen. Oh, you know you want to. 

SIFF Media


I have always admired the work of Crystal Moselle (THE WOLFPACK and SKATE KITCHEN have had repeat viewings here over the years) and her latest work partners her with the extraordinary Derrick B. Harden, who co-directs and stars as Khalid, a man who makes his way to Bulgaria from New York for a job, can’t get said job but then assimilates himself into the culture with his complete and utter charm. Not only is this based on real events, the movie itself feels and plays real throughout and is less about racial points and more about cultures clashing with each other. Shot in a near documentary style with mostly hand-held and natural light, THE BLACK SEA really feels a movie to get lost in in the best way possible. 



If you are down for an uprorarious and loud comedy that puts our two leads to the highest comedic test on who can out-gross the other, BABES is absolutely for you. One of the leads (Ilana Glazer) finds herself pregnant after a one night stand and we are taken through one screwball mishap after another with her best friend (Michelle Buteau), already with child. All of these shenanigans would make Blake Edwards proud. I got major old school New York, Woody Allen vibes too out of the setting, and the movie goes out of its way to make you laugh, even when it can cross the line into extreme vulgarity at times. But I’m fine with that! BABES had big, loud laughs when it screened at SxSW to the point I couldn’t hear some lines of dialogue, and no doubt will have the same effect when it shows here in Seattle.

SIFF Media

A LOT more to come to Get Reel Movies on the entire SIFF experience! Watch our site, my social media along with hitting our hashtag to read reactions of as many SIFF movies as I can handle! We will also have some non-SIFF movie contests happening as per usual, so follow our site or our social media channels to stay in touch. 

 HUGE thanks to the Smarthouse Creative PR team and the SIFF press team for assistance with coverage. 

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