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SIFF 2024: Day 5 Recap

Posted by May 14th, 2024 No Comments »

Seattle International Film Festival
May 9-19, 2024 in Seattle
Day 5 Recap (Monday, May 13)

The ambitious goal for my fifth day at the Seattle International Film Festival was to catch four films. Spoiler alert: I failed.

Arriving late at the Uptown Theater in Queen Anne, I missed The Quiet Maid, a Columbian film presented by Steven Soderbergh. Fortunately, the Lithuanian drama Slow was just about to start—a serendipitous pivot, thanks to The Uptown Theatre dedicating three screens to SIFF festival programming.

Slow may just be the most romantic film I’ve ever seen. Directed by Marija Lavtaradze, it elegantly explores the budding relationship between a sign language interpreter and an interpretive dancer. Lavtaradze’s storytelling prowess was evident, making me eager to check out her debut, Summer Survivors, though it looks like I’m signing up for another streaming service called Film Movement Plus since I couldn’t find a copy at my beloved Scarecrow Video.

Next up was Young Hearts, a nuanced coming-of-age drama set against the rustic backdrops of rural Belgium. Though the trailer might give “Saltburn for tennagers” vibes, Young Hearts is far from another teenage angst film. Instead, it offers a thoughtful portrayal of acceptance and generational disconnect, peppered with humor thanks to veteran Belgium television actor Geert Van Rampelberg’s portrayal of a delightfully clueless father. The performances by Lou Goossens as Elias and Marius De Saeger as Alexander brought an authentic touch to their adolescent characters, making even the most sentimental lines resonate with sincerity.

Visually, the film showcases the Belgian landscape with beautiful shots of farms and country roads, culminating in a joyful harvest celebration… or what Americans call “the county fair.” Fans of the excellent films Moonlight (2016) and Close (2022) should catch the second showing on Wednesday, May 15 at 4 p.m. at SIFF Downtown.

After getting a peek at the shortlist of SIFF feature films, the one I was most excited to see was Victor Erice’s fourth film, Close Your Eyes (2023). His debut, Spirit of the Beehive (1973), remains one of my all-time favorites. So I ended my Monday at SIFF by meeting fellow film critic and friend Peter Cameron at the Majestic Bay in Ballard, filled with high hopes.

And indeed, we were impressed. Erice employs a fascinating narrative technique that not only pays tribute to classic cinema but also revitalizes it, making his mark as a relevant filmmaker in the 21st century. Whether the setting is Madrid, an unnamed Spanish beach, or an asylum inhabited by nuns, the set design and locations are stunning. The blocking is a masterclass in filmmaking. The dialogue is rich, and the director’s autobiographical touch in the film was not lost on either Peter or me. Don’t be deterred by the runtime—make plans to attend the second showing on Wednesday, May 15, at 12:30 p.m. at AMC Pacific Place.

Though I didn’t hit my four-film target, the three films I did see were more than worthwhile. While my quest for a four-film marathon day continues, another day like this would be just as rewarding.

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