It's almost time for one of my favorite film fests, the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF), which runs a whopping 25 days, from May 24-June 17. Not only is SIFF one of the longest (if not the longest) film festivals on the planet, which is pretty cool, but it's sustained almost entirely by local support, with screenings generally well-attended throughout the fest.

I love this fest not just because it's in Seattle, where I live, which makes it a non-travel fest for me (good thing, since it's so long!), but the atmosphere of the fest is so ... Pacific Northwest. The weather is generally gorgeous -- June is one of the best months to be in Seattle, most of the venues serve popcorn with REAL butter instead of nasty "butter-flavored" grease, and folks are laid-back and friendly. This year SIFF will bring Seattle 405 films, in a sched boasting 48 world premieres and 39 North American premieres.
So what films am I excited about seeing at SIFF this year? And what films would I highly recommend you see? After all, very few of us are stalwart enough (or have enough free time) to see 405 films, even over a three-week period, and at a film fest you always want to maximize the likelihood that you'll actually be seeing something worth seeing. For starters, I'm thrilled that the fest is opening with Son of Rambow, which was one of my faves from Sundance this year. The film is about a young boy raised in a religious sect that doesn't allow TV or movies. When the boy is inadvertently exposed to the film Rambo, he develops an obsession for the film, and teams up with the school outcast to make his own sequel to the film. Another Sundance fave, Protangonist, is showing in the documentary competition. Jessica Yu's arsty and intellectually ambitious film blends puppetry with Euripidean drama.

There will be plenty of war-themed docs playing the fest (hey, it's a fest, you gotta have your slate of depressing documentaries) including Nanking, War/Dance, A Secret Genocide, and White Light/Black Rain. On the feature front, Seattleites will be getting their hands on plenty of films that have been garnering buzz on the fest circuit already: Broken English, starring Parker Posey; 12:08 East of Bucharest; Eagle Vs Shark; zombie flick Fido; Four Sheets to the Wind, which won actress Tamara Podemski an acting award at Sundance; Great World of Sound; Hula Girls; starkly beautiful Russian drama Ostrov (The Island); Judd Apatow's Knocked Up; and Red Road, which James Rocchi reviewed last year at Cannes, and which I still have not managed to see -- but I swear, I am finally going to see it at SIFF.

All those great films, and that's just barely scratching the surface of this gargantuan fest. As always, SIFF has a solid lineup of East European films, Emerging Masters and midnight fun. Once again, the programming team at SIFF appears to have put together a lineup that makes SIFF rival most of the major fests in terms of quality. I'm looking forward to exploring some films I've missed at previous fests, here on my home turf. Hey, it's Seattle. When my eyes start to blur from watching too many films, there's always a great cup of coffee waiting just around the corner.