THE SECOND WEEKEND found SIFF battling a new, devious threat: sunshine! Here it is only May and the most beautiful weather since last summer warmed the city like a tropical paradise. It also heated up packed theaters. But did warm weather deter dedicated filmgoers? Hey, this is Seattle! Flagship theater the Egyptian sold out showings of Earth (with director Deepa Mehta in attendance), The Red Violin (with director Francois Girard and co-screenwriter/actor Don McKellar), I Want You (with director Michael Winterbottom), and Judy Berlin. Also packed were After Life and the midnight showing of the cult classic Thundercrack. At the Broadway, Dance of Dust and The Mating Game sold out (though we hear the buzz was even bigger for the short Peep Show, which preceded Game), and the Australian Dead Letter Office made a solid showing. Claude Chabrol's The Swindle filled every seat of the Harvard, while audience favorite Adrenaline Drive and the Mexican satire Divine were filled almost to capacity. The rumor among theater staffers at Pacific Place is that the SIFF house is the busiest in the complex—by Saturday night SIFF was promoted to the largest auditorium. Showings of Wim Wender's Buena Vista Social Club, Don McKellar's comedy Last Night, the repeat screening of Lovers on the Bridge, You Can Thank Me Later, and the French bio-pic Lautrec all sold out.
The Canadian Consulate tossed a party for the visiting Canadian filmmakers over the weekend. Don McKellar and Deepa Mehta squeezed time out of their busy schedules for the diplomatic function, and we hear that Francois Girard played piano well into the night. I guess it's not that surprising from the director of 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould and The Red Violin, but it certainly doesn't help his case. He insisted to the sold-out audience of The Red Violin: "I don't want to be known as Mr. Music." Ms. Mehta, meanwhile, warmed the hearts of Seattleites when she revealed the secret connection between our fair city and her new film: While she was at SIFF two years ago with Fire, she took a trip to Elliott Bay Book Co., where she first discovered the book that inspired her current film, Earth. McKellar, The Red Violin co-writer and performer as well as director/writer/star of Last Night, proved to be the most popular guest of the weekend. The press kept him engaged between personal appearances and meals, and he was never less than friendly and engaging.
From the best-laid plans department: The story of Insomnio continues. After canceling the first scheduled showing of the Spanish comic thriller when it arrived shy a few reels, a second was almost scrubbed when the remaining reels came in damaged beyond repair. SIFF staffers scoured the globe for another print and found one playing at a Spanish film festival. British Airways rush-shipped it to Seattle, local courier Golden Globe whisked it through customs, and it arrived at the theater in the proverbial nick of time. End of story? Not quite—a few minutes into the screening, audience members started trickling out. The print had no subtitles, but that didn't seem to bother the Spanish-speaking contingent in the audience, who simply moved up a few seats and spread out for an evening of homegrown culture. And it's still not the end of the story—it seems that the "above and beyond the call of duty" efforts of a certain Golden Globe employee, a gentleman named Dan whose hard work and diligence has helped SIFF for years, earned him a pink slip from Golden Globe. But the story has a happy ending for Dan: We hear that within hours of losing one position he landed an even better job with a former client. His gain is SIFF's loss.
If you've heard the rumors that Gaspor Nore's I Stand Alone was stopped by customs for its controversial content, we don't know where they started, but it wasn't from the SIFF office. . . . As of this writing, all scheduled showings are still on track.
Guests sound off
"Film spoke music before it spoke words." —Red Violin director Francois Girard. Michael Winterbottom explains why producers are cutting I Want You (which played uncut for SIFF) for its upcoming American release: "I think the phrase they used was 'thrusting buttocks.'" An audience member engages Bishonen director Yonfan in a discussion of a finer point of the film: "That's what my partner and I were arguing about." "You mean you were talking during my movie?!"