The all-digital 2021 Seattle International Film Festival will look very different this year, but it’s still maintaining many of its traditions — among them, a presence of Northwest films. Here’s the list; note that all are available for streaming throughout the festival (April 8-18). For more information, see siff.net.
“All Sorts,” written and directed by J. Rick Castañeda, is described by SIFF as “a movie about a lonely data entry clerk who stumbles into the world of championship folder filing” and “a quirky comedy about finding magic in everyday life.” Castañeda originally wrote the film, which stars Eli Vargas and Greena Park, 19 years ago, inspired by his own experiences with mundane office jobs. Though now based in Los Angeles, Castañeda is from Yakima County, and he shot the film there, importing many cast and crew members from Seattle. (His previous film, “Cement Suitcase,” was also filmed in the region.) “All Sorts” will make its world premiere at SIFF; Castañeda will participate in a live Q&A on April 15 at 8:30 p.m.
Filmed partly in the Spokane area and partly in the United Kingdom, Andrew Hyatt’s “All Those Small Things” was completed just before the pandemic hit. It’s the story of an aging British game-show host (played by James Faulkner, who you might know as Randyll Tarly on “Game of Thrones” or Lord Sinderby on “Downton Abbey”) who unexpectedly travels to the Pacific Northwest after receiving a letter from a young fan. “All Those Small Things” will make its world premiere at SIFF, with a live Q&A on April 11 at 8:30 p.m.; Hyatt, producer Nike Imoru, and actors Faulkner, Kerry Knuppe and Aaron Dalla Villa are scheduled to participate.
Local treasure Tom Skerritt stars in Seattle-based filmmaker SJ Chiro’s drama “East of the Mountains,” as a widowed heart surgeon facing a cancer diagnosis who travels to his boyhood home in Eastern Washington. The film, based on David Guterson’s novel, also stars Mira Sorvino as his daughter. It’s a rare leading role for Skerritt, who’ll be given SIFF’s Outstanding Achievement in Cinema Award on April 15. Chiro’s previous work includes “Lane 1974,” which won SIFF’s New American Cinema award in 2016. “East of the Mountains” will make its world premiere at SIFF; Chiro will participate in a live Q&A on April 9 at 8:30 p.m.
“Potato Dreams of America” was inspired by Seattle-based writer/director Wes Hurley’s childhood as a gay kid from the USSR who arrived here with his mother in the 1990s. He previously made a short film, “Little Potato,” about the same experiences; it was a prizewinner at the SXSW festival in 2017. The feature-length film stars Dan Lauria (“The Wonder Years”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange is the New Black”) and Jonathan Bennett (“Mean Girls”), along with many Seattle actors including Marya Sea Kaminski, Sarah Rudinoff and Sophia Mitri Schloss. “Potato Dreams of America” made its world premiere at SXSW last month, and makes its Seattle premiere at SIFF. Hurley, Kaminski, producer Mischa Jakupcak and production designer Kristen Bonnalie will participate in a live Q&A on April 10 at 5 p.m.
Also with local connections are two SIFF documentaries: “Super Frenchie,” a profile of mountain-jumping daredevil Matthias Giraud, is directed by Spokane-based filmmaker Chase Ogden. And Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler’s documentary “Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America” features ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jeffery Robinson, who has spent much of his career in Seattle.