SIFF 2018 Picks: Week 2

A wide variety of comedies highlight the fest’s offerings from May 29–June 3.

Lots of Kids, a Monkey and a Castle

As as newlywed, director Gustavo Salmerón’s mother Julita believed that all she needed to be happy were lots of kids, a monkey, and a castle. After building a comfortable life with six children and a monkey, Julita suddenly inherits a real castle which she turns into a hoarder’s haven. Salmerón kept his camera rolling for over a decade to create a documentary about his mother’s eccentric, but loving, ways, told through the woman, the castle, and the knickknacks she has collected over the years. – KD

May 29 at 4:30 p.m., Pacific Place

The Long Dumb Road

A road-trip buddy comedy in which Jason Mantzoukas gets to go full manic Mantzoukas opposite an uptight straight man (Grand Budapest Hotel’s Tony Revolori) for 90 minutes? Book the ticket. Revolori plays a college photography student on the road searching for his idealized “real” America before a car mishap leads to Mantzoukas’ eccentric mechanic joining the journey through the Southwest. – SS

May 30 at 7 p.m., Egyptian | June 1 at 4 p.m., Uptown


Wajib examines the tenuous relationship between a Palestinian Christian father/son duo as they try to understand each other despite the vastly different lives they lead. It stars the real life father and son pair of Mohammad and Saleh Bakri as Abu Shadi and Shadi. Shadi returns from Rome where he works as an architect to help his father hand-deliver his sister’s wedding invitations all over the city of Nazareth. The ensuing conversations are sometimes awkward, sometimes funny, but always heartfelt. – KD

May 30 at 9:30 p.m., Pacific Place | June 1 at 12:30 p.m., Uptown

Every Act of Life

The world of theater has always been gay, but it hasn’t always been out, and one playwright who helped make it so was Terrence McNally. The rise of his career, now in its second half-century, paralleled the struggle for gay rights and visibility, just as the roller-coaster of his emotional life has replicated the vicissitudes of critical response to his work—both acclaim (two Tonys) and opprobrium. A delectable array of Broadway-icon talking heads helps trace all these interweaving narratives in this documentary. – GB

May 31 at 6:30 p.m., Uptown | June 2 at 11 a.m., Pacific Place

Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist

One woman was behind almost every successful early punk band: Vivienne Westwood. The veteran fashion designer’s wild and rule breaking vision helped create the punk scene’s style, which grew into one of the world’s biggest subcultures. Along the way, she became one of Britain’s most influential designers. The documentary follows Westwood as she reflects on her 40 year career from her roots as the queen of punk, receiving damehood, and becoming a leader of environmental activism in an industry that is one of the worst culprits of global pollution. – KD

June 1 at 4 p.m., Pacific Place | June 4 at 6:30 p.m., Uptown

Leave No Trace

Debra Granik’s terrific Winter’s Bone (2010) burrowed deep into the Ozarks backwoods and made a star of Jennifer Lawrence. Not sure why it’s taken so long for Granik to return with another fictional feature, but this one sounds promising, and close to home: In the forests outside Portland, a troubled vet (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter (Thomasin Mackenzie) avoid the civilized world as much as they can. It intrudes anyway. Producer Anne Rosellini, a Seattle native, will attend. – RH

June 1 at 6:30 p.m., Egyptian | June 2 at 1:30 p.m., Pacific Place


A serial killer is on the prowl in Tehran–decapitating its finest filmmakers and carving khook (pig) onto their foreheads. A blacklisted, egotistical filmmaker develops a twisted sense of jealousy when he finds out the mysterious killer has decided to ignore him. His life turns into a wild ride when he is hurled into the center of the drama after being named a prime suspect. This black comedy by Mani Haghighi strays far from the subtle and solemn mood that often dominates Iranian cinema and isn’t afraid to get k(h)ooky. – KD

June 1 at 9:30 p.m., Uptown | June 2 at 2:30 p.m., Uptown| June 3 at 3:15 p.m., Kirkland Performance Center

Being There

In Hal Ashby’s 1979 satire, Peter Sellers (in arguably his greatest performance) plays an isolated man whose only knowledge of the world comes through television and whose oblique utterances are misread as profound wisdom. Through a series of comic happenstances, he winds up President. Needless to say this could never happen in real life. (Hal, a documentary about Ashby, also screens at the festival.) – GB

June 2 at Noon, Uptown

Sorry to Bother You

The buzz out of Sundance on this indie comedy was giddy, which suggests an ideal piece of non-blockbuster summer programming. Lakeith Stanfield (indelible as a dazed zombie in Get Out) stars as a telemarketer who learns that putting on his “white voice” opens up a whole new world. Director Boots Riley (another scheduled SIFF guest) takes a slightly surreal approach to something that might have been a one-joke comedy—not a bad tactic, given the success of Get Out. Tessa Thompson and Armie Hammer co-star. – RH

June 2 at 5:30 p.m., Egyptian

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