Guests on the red carpet on opening night at McCaw Hall on May 18 will include “The Big Sick” director Michael Showalter, star/co-writer Kumail Nanjiani and co-writer Emily V. Gordon.

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The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) opens 7 p.m. Thursday, May 18, with a McCaw Hall gala screening of “The Big Sick” (see capsule review below), followed by the opening-night party at Fisher Pavilion. Guests on the red carpet will include “The Big Sick” director Michael Showalter, star/co-writer Kumail Nanjiani (HBO’s “Silicon Valley”) and co-writer Emily V. Gordon, as well as a host of other local and visiting filmmakers. Opening-night tickets begin at $75 general admission ($65 SIFF members), which includes the film and party, and can be bought at or 206-324-9996. SIFF continues through June 11 at numerous venues in and around Seattle; our review roundups will be updated every Friday during the fest at


The Big Sick” ★★★


Seattle International Film Festival

Through June 11 at Egyptian, Uptown, Pacific Place, SIFF Film Center; also at Majestic Bay (through May 25), Shoreline Community College (May 26-June 3), Lincoln Square (through June 1), Ark Lodge Cinemas (June 1-8), Kirkland Performance Center (June 1-4). Individual tickets are $11 weekday matinees ($9 SIFF members), $14 evening/weekend shows ($12 SIFF members); various ticket packages available. Box office: 206-324-9996, or at festival venues.

SIFF 2017

Certainly among the better efforts in SIFF’s checkered history of opening-night films, Showalter’s “The Big Sick” is based on a charming real-life romance: that of Pakistan-born actor/comedian Kumail Nanjiani and his American wife, Emily V. Gordon. Their early relationship, troubled by his fear that his family won’t accept a non-Pakistani girlfriend, zoomed into overdrive quickly when Gordon suddenly became seriously ill. The film, with Nanjiani as himself and a sparkling Zoe Kazan as Emily (Nanjiani and Gordon wrote the screenplay), is a bit overlong but emerges as a smart, funny depiction of how love can be remarkably inconvenient, but nonetheless conquers all. With Holly Hunter, who threatens to steal the movie as Emily’s mercurial mother, and Ray Romano. (If you can’t make it to opening night, “The Big Sick” will open theatrically here July 7.)