The Seattle International Film Festival, running May 24-June 17, sprawls all over town this year, making its presence known in Capitol Hill...

Share story

The Seattle International Film Festival, running May 24-June 17, sprawls all over town this year, making its presence known in Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, downtown, the University District and even across the bridge in Bellevue. With its venues so far-flung, festivalgoers may wish to hunker down in one location and make a day of it, rather than trying to race all over town. But how to get there? Where to eat? Where to sit? And do I really have to stand in line in the rain?

Herewith, a guide to the SIFF venues and a hint of some of the more promising-looking films that will screen there. For more information on bus routes, see or call 206-553-3000. To learn more about the festival and its 400-plus films, see or pick up a Seattle Times SIFF Guide at any festival venue or all Tully’s Coffee locations in Western Washington.

SIFF Cinema

Address: 321 Mercer St., at Nesholm Family Lecture Hall, McCaw Hall. (Enter from the sidewalk on Mercer below the overpass, not through the McCaw main lobby.)

Bus routes: 2, 3, 4, 13, 16, 45, 74, 82 and the monorail.

Parking: Closest is the Mercer Garage on Third Avenue North between Mercer and Roy, whose overpass connects directly to McCaw (with a wheelchair-accessible elevator). Prices vary widely: $5-$15 for the day or evening. Street parking, particularly if you head closer to Aurora Avenue North, is worth a look.

Quirks: Sightlines are very good at SIFF’s classy, royal-blue new home; even the aisle seats on the far ends (there’s no center aisle) afford a fine view. The perpetually thirsty should note, however, that this is the only main SIFF venue without cupholders.

Indoor/outdoor lines? Outdoor.

Food (in cinema): Limited snack counter. You may bring outside food into this cinema, politely (meaning: the smell of your lunch shouldn’t overpower anyone else’s movie experience).

Food (outside): Two gleaming-new supermarkets — Metropolitan Market to the west and QFC to the east — are a short walk from SIFF Cinema. If you want to sit for a bit, there’s pub food (and drinks) at McMenamin’s on Third and Roy, Thai food at Bahn Thai (409 Roy St.) and Racha (23 Mercer St., at First Avenue North), and fancier fare at Moxie (530 First Ave. N.) and Ten Mercer (10 Mercer St., natch).

Good bets: Most of the Saturday Swashbuckler series (“Captain Blood,” “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” “Scaramouche”) screens here; bring the family. Sir Anthony Hopkins introduces “Slipstream,” an experimental film that he wrote and directed, here on May 29 at 7 p.m. And, as part of SIFF’s Face the Music programming, composer/musician Lisa Gerrard (“Gladiator,” “Whale Rider”) and filmmaker Julien Temple (“The Filth and the Fury,” “Glastonbury” and many music videos) will appear here, May 25 and June 5, respectively.

Lincoln Square Cinemas

Address: 700 Bellevue Way N.E., Bellevue (third floor of the Lincoln Square complex). Finding the theater can be confusing the first time, as the elevators from the garage go only to the second level. Take the escalator from there, or for wheelchair access use the hard-to-find elevator to the third floor (to the right, next to the Thomasville furniture store).

Bus routes: 220, 222, 230, 234, 240, 243, 253, 261, 271, 550, 921.

Parking: Garage parking is plentiful and free, in the Lincoln Square lot (enter on Northeast Eighth Street, just east of Bellevue Way) or in any Bellevue Square garage. Arrive early on weekends; the lots get congested with shoppers.

Quirks: Very, very comfy stadium seating. This is a large multiplex; note that the SIFF screen is to your right as you enter the theater lobby. Lincoln Square’s SIFF box office is within the regular cinema box office, to the right as you approach the theater.

Indoor/outdoor lines?: Indoor.

Food (in cinema): Extensive snack counter, with the usual movie items plus pizzas, pretzels, nachos, Polish sausage and hot links, hand-scooped ice cream and Tully’s coffee drinks. No outside food may be brought into the theater.

Food (outside): The Lincoln Square restaurants are leisurely and fairly pricey — McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant, Maggiano’s Little Italy, Manzana Rotisserie Grill, Trader Vic’s — but there are plenty of quick options in Bellevue Square, just across the street.

Good bets: Eighteen days of programming at this theater begin May 31 with the gala premiere of Seattle filmmaker John Jeffcoat’s comedy “Outsourced,” set in Seattle and India. Also screening here: the irresistible-looking New Zealand horror film “Black Sheep” (killer sheep! yikes!) on May 31; Javier Bardem in the Milos Forman film “Goya’s Ghosts” (June 11); and the award-winning French adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s novel, “Lady Chatterley” (June 12).


Address: 801 E. Pine St., Seattle.

Bus routes: 2, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 43, 49, 60.

Parking: Seattle Central Community College’s Harvard Garage, just a hop from the Egyptian at 1609 Harvard Ave., is a deal: $3 Friday nights or all day Saturday/Sunday; $4 Monday-Thursday evenings.

Quirks: Iffy sound but charming ambiance and one of the larger screens in town. If you’re seeing something with subtitles here, try to sit in the back third of the theater, otherwise you might have a head blocking your view. And, if you’re female and enjoyed a refreshing beverage during the movie, run like the wind to the much-too-small ladies’ room when it’s over — or expect a very long line.

Indoor/outdoor lines?: Outdoor.

Food (in cinema): The usual suspects, plus an espresso bar. No outside food can be brought in.

Food (outside): A big QFC and plenty of restaurants are a block south on Pike Street; Bill’s Off Broadway, as well as more takeout options are just west on Pine.

Best bets: The ever-mysterious Secret Festival (see story below for details) takes place here on Sunday mornings. Also here are a couple of gala screenings — Julie Delpy’s “2 Days in Paris” (June 2), Lars von Trier’s “The Boss of It All” (June 9) — and a special preview of the summer comedy “Knocked Up” (May 26), from the writer/director of “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.”

Harvard Exit

Address: 807 E. Roy St., Seattle.

Bus routes: 9, 14, 49, 60.

Parking: Take the bus if you can; street parking is a chore here (try several blocks north of the theater). In a pinch, there’s always the Broadway Market lot to the south, but you’ll pay dearly for the privilege.

Quirks: This 1920s-era art house has the prettiest lobby in town (complete with a fireplace and grand piano); a lovely place to wait between screenings. Try for balcony seating, if it’s open.

Indoor/outdoor lines?: Outdoor.

Food (in cinema): The usual. No outside food can be brought in.

Food (outside): The Deluxe Bar & Grill, just next door on Broadway and Roy, is a good place to get a burger or fortifying drink. Plenty of restaurants line Broadway within a few blocks of the theaters; the Broadway Market has many options for takeout to eat in line (including a large QFC).

Good bets: SIFF can be counted on for a strong selection of documentaries, many of which will appear at the Exit. Among them: “Girls Rock!,” a Northwest doc about a rock-music camp for girls (May 25); “Lake of Fire,” Tony Kaye’s complex examination of the abortion debate (June 2, June 6); “Soldiers of Conscience,” a look at soldiers who choose to serve but not kill (June 9); and “Red Without Blue,” in which identical twin brothers contemplate one’s gender change (June 5, June 7).


Address: 1303 N.E. 45th St., Seattle.

Bus routes: 9, 43, 44, 48, 66, 67, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 79.

Parking: Try the shadow of the Safeco building for street parking at night; otherwise, see the University District Parking Association Web site at for info on the neighborhood’s many lots (some of which are quite cheap).

Quirks: The front rows of the balcony make for a great view (though leg room is tight); make your way up there if you can. Beware the pillars on the main floor.

Indoor/outdoor lines?: Indoor.

Food (in cinema): The usual stuff. No outside food.

Food (outside): For a treat, head around the corner on University Way Northeast to the ice-cream shop Mix (4507 University Way N.E.). Matt’s Gourmet Hot Dogs, on the corner of Northeast 45th Street and Brooklyn Avenue Northeast, is right next door to the theater. Should you require something a little fancier, the District Lounge at the Hotel Deca is just half a block west, on Brooklyn.

Good bets: “Evening,” Lajos’ Koltai’s drama starring Claire Danes, Vanessa Redgrave, Meryl Streep and Glenn Close, has its gala premiere here June 16, with the director present. A.J. Schnack’s locally made documentary “Kurt Cobain About a Son” screens here (June 2), as does the world premiere of Daniel Gildark’s “Cthulhu (June 14),” filmed in Seattle and Astoria and inspired by the work of H.P. Lovecraft. Also, look here for Saturday midnight movies throughout the fest.

Pacific Place

Address: 600 Pine St., Seattle (on the fourth floor of the Pacific Place shopping center).

Bus routes: 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 16, 25, 43, 49, 54, 64, 66, 82, 358.

Parking: Pacific Place’s underground lot is convenient and not too pricey ($4 for weekday evenings); note that it can fill up and cost more on weekends.

Quirks: It’s a shopping-mall multiplex and fairly personality-free. That said, the seats are comfortable, the screens big and the restrooms plentiful.

Indoor/outdoor lines?: Indoor.

Food (in cinema): The usual snacks, along with pizza, nachos and pretzels. Outside food may be carried in.

Food (outside): Just outside the cinema door is Johnny Rockets (burgers/sandwiches/fries), Thai Ginger, Mexico Cantina y Veracruz, Todai (sushi) and Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant; plus, more-than-decent food can be had in the Nordstrom cafe, just a skybridge walk away on the third floor.

Best bets: Many of the films in SIFF’s German Spotlight screen here: “The Cloud” (June 1 and 2), about love in the shadow of a nuclear plant; the coming-of-age comedy “French for Beginners” (June 17); the black comedy “A Friend of Mine” (May 30 and 31), starring Daniel Brühl (“Goodbye, Lenin!”); and the thriller “Yella”(June 13 and 16), about a young woman chased by her past. Also at Pacific Place, for all ages: the animated comedy “Surf’s Up” (May 26), a surfing mockumentary starring penguins (and the voices of Shia LaBeouf and Jon Heder).

And, in supporting roles …

Northwest Film Forum (1515 12th Ave., Seattle) will host SIFF for six days of screenings May 25-30, featuring the festival’s Alternate Cinema section. On later dates, it will host several panels and special presentations. “An Afternoon with Robert Benton,” an intimate chat with the screenwriter of “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Kramer vs. Kramer” and “Places in the Heart,” sounds like a treat; it’ll be at NWFF June 3 at 2 p.m.

The Triple Door (216 Union St., Seattle) will join SIFF for two screenings of the classic 1927 silent film “Berlin: Symphony of a City.” The Seattle rock band Kinski will perform a new original score to the film, June 15 at 7 and 9:30 p.m.

Broadway Performance Hall (1625 Broadway, Seattle) is usually a busy screening venue during SIFF, but this time it’s only used for a panel discussion (“Evolution of Music in Film,” June 16) and for a variety of workshops and classes at its Digital Media Lab.

Cinerama (2100 Fourth Ave., Seattle) and its gloriously big screen make only a cameo appearance at SIFF this year, hosting the gala closing-night screening of Laurent Tirard’s “Molière” June 17.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or