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Missed the Highlights of the Seattle International Film Festival 2019? Best of SIFF is Your Second Chance – TheStranger.com

The witty comedy Tel Aviv on Fire by Sameh Zoabi won the Golden Needle Audience Award this year.

The grand Seattle International Film Festival 2019 ended on Sunday, but don’t fret: Every year, the festival brings back viewer favorites (like the Golden Space Needle Audience Award-winning Tel Aviv on Fire) and jury award recipients (like the Official Competition-winning House of Hummingbird) for Best of SIFF, so you’ll have a second shot at the greatest movies on the program. All will be screened at SIFF Cinema Uptown. For more film events, openings, and festivals, check out our film calendar, or see even more options on our movie times page. Find more activities around Seattle on our complete Things To Do calendar.

FRI JUNE 14

Carmen & Lola
Youth Jury Prize for Best FutureWave Feature
Arantxa Echevarría’s assured debut revolves around two Roma teens in Madrid. The brassy Carmen, a high-school dropout, can’t wait to get married and become a hairdresser. The solitary Lola, a graffiti artist and closeted lesbian, longs to be a teacher. The women meet while working at their family’s market stalls, lust blooming with the touch of a hand. Soon they’re sneaking out for smoke breaks and passionate kisses. The potential for tragedy comes from their patriarchal community’s inability to accept same-sex romance, but the possibility for triumph lies with their stubbornness and strength. Bonus: The riot of sequins with which their culture celebrates even the most mundane occasions. KATHY FENNESSY

International Falls
Grand Jury Prize: New American Cinema Competition
International Falls has a similar feel to Fargo—the setting is a small, frozen Minnesota town whose residents are made up of friendly kooks—and its humor is dark, though the morbid plot device doesn’t happen until the film is almost over. Rachael Harris is radiant and perfectly cast as the subtly funny Dee, a middle-aged wife and mother stuck in a tedious job and a marriage that has obviously gone past its expiration date. Rob Huebel is Tim, a depressed comedian who comes to International Falls to perform his admittedly not-very-good stand-up at Dee’s hotel. It’s ostensibly about two people who use each other—and comedy—to deal with real-life shit. But it’s also about the momentary comfort we find in strangers, how deeply you can get to know someone in a brief period while never really knowing them at all, and how a person can completely change your life without ever really being a part of it. It will leave you feeling both sad and supremely satisfied. LEILANI POLK

Sink or Swim
First Runner-Up, Best Film: Golden Space Needle Audience Award
The charismatic French actor and director Mathieu Amalric plays an angsty middle-aged guy who puts together an all-male synchronized swim team in this comedy by Gilles Lellouche. The film was nominated for three Césars (the French equivalent of the Oscars).

SAT JUNE 15

Official Secrets
Best Film, Second Runner-Up: Golden Space Needle Audience Award
After catching wind of a plot to lie Britain into war with Iraq, a reluctant whistleblower (Keira Knightley) finds her freedoms rapidly slipping away. Gavin Hood’s firmly buttoned-up drama strictly follows the based-on-actual-events playbook, right down to the now standard (and dramatically deflating) glimpse of the actual people at the end credits. Still, while the narrative may lack oomph, there is some good stuff in Official Secrets, particularly when the ridiculously stacked cast moves past the exposition-heavy setup and starts to actually interact. (As Knightley’s lawyer, Ralph Fiennes’s decision to underplay an already quiet character gets you leaning in to catch every word.) Compellingly dry, and dryly compelling. ANDREW WRIGHT

Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins
Best Documentary, Second Runner-Up: Golden Space Needle Audience Award
Did you know one of George W. Bush’s most ardent critics was a journalist from his own state? Molly Ivins was the loudest liberal voice covering the Texas legislature. She eventually followed the Bush clan from the state house to the White House. But that was hardly the height of her career. Ivins had long made a name for herself as a journalist. Her sometimes abrasive style was unique and boisterous. In Raise Hell, Ivins’s story clips along breezily, punctuated by her dry wit. It’s an easy watch, but it’ll leave you wondering: What would the late Ivins have thought of the White House’s current tenant? NATHALIE GRAHAM

Top End Wedding
Audience Favorite
Viewers love this sweet story of a young Indigenous woman whose mother goes missing when she brings her non-Indigenous fiancé home to Australia’s Northern Territory. Will Lauren be able to find her mama and reconcile with her?

We Are the Radical Monarchs
Best of SIFF – Best Documentary: Golden Space Needle Audience Award
Meet the Radical Monarchs, an Oakland-based group for girls of color who advocate for social justice in the face of the hope-crushing machine that is post-2016 American society.

SUN JUNE 16

Our Bodies Our Doctors
Best of SIFF – Lena Sharpe Award for Persistence of Vision
Nearly half a century after the US Supreme Court legalized abortion, the access to actually getting one is continually shrinking. But at the same time that states all across the US are making it harder, if not impossible, to get this basic health-care procedure, doctors are dutifully committed to serving their patients. Through the stories of abortion doctors in four different cities and towns, Our Bodies Our Doctors explores the stigma attached to this profession, the reality of working in an abortion clinic, and how a number of brave physicians continue to fight for their patients despite the cost to themselves. KATIE HERZOG

House of Hummingbird
Best of SIFF – Grand Jury Prize: Official Competition
Fourteen-year-old Eunhee has little comfort in life, whether at middle school (actual teacher quote: “We die every day”), with her tense family, or among fickle friends and crushes. She finds unexpected solace when she gets a new Chinese tutor: Youngji, a gentle, independent woman who recognizes Eunhee’s acute loneliness and confusion. Bora Kim’s debut film, set in the outskirts of 1990s Seoul, explores the teenager’s relationships rather than following a single narrative. Though we focus on Eunhee, played by an incredibly natural Ji-hu Park, every character seems to be hiding an inner universe, and we’re soon invested in the friendships, loves, and heartbreaks of this parochial world. JOULE ZELMAN

The Extraordinary Journey of Celeste Garcia
Best of SIFF – Grand Jury Prize: New Directors Competition
An underappreciated middle-aged woman, played by Volver‘s Maria Isabel Diaz, is chosen as one of the lucky few to be taken to an alien world to start life anew. This funny comedy is the debut of Cuban director Arturo Infante.

Best of SIFF 2019 Shorts: Audience Award Winners
Revisit the most highly rated short films at SIFF this year, like the charming animated films Zog and Muteum, the dramas Miller & Son and Paperboy, and the documentary Sweetheart Dancers.

MON JUNE 17

Vai
Best of SIFF – Best Film, Third Runner-Up: Golden Space Needle Audience Award
Watch eight vignettes centered on Indigenous women from Fiji, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, Kuki Airani (Cook Islands), Samoa, Niue, and Aotearoa (New Zealand)—studies of femininity and strength.

The Awakening of the Ants
Grand Jury Prize: Ibero-American Competition
In Antonella Sudasassi Furniss’s surrealist drama, a young homemaker’s frustration and thwarted sexuality begin to break out in strange ways.

TUES JUNE 18

Yuli
Learn about the life of famed Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta from this documentary by Iciar Bollain.

Best of SIFF 2019 Shorts: Jury Award Winners
The SIFF Jury decided that these are the short films you need to see: the borderlands love story Sin Cielo; All On a Mardi Gras Day, a documentary portrait of a Mardi Gras Indian; the strange fantasy The Seahorse Trainer; and more.
WED JUNE 19

Tel Aviv on Fire
Best Film: Golden Space Needle Audience Award
Set in 1967, against the backdrop of the time before the Six-Day War, Sameh Zoabi’s comedy follows a lowly production assistant on a Palestinian soap opera whose chance encounter with an enthusiastic Israeli checkpoint commander begins to shape his own career. At first, the soldier’s ideas for the show help the Palestinian PA, but things soon get more complicated.

Q Ball
Grand Jury Prize: Documentary Competition
With Tucker Carlson’s rep, you’d think a film from Fox would want to demonize black and brown inmates, but this documentary does just the opposite. The San Quentin Warriors, an all-inmate team in one of America’s most well-known prisons, are united by a desire to have a winning season. But the basketball games, while as exciting as any March Madness match, are the least compelling part of this movie that uses the sport more as a vehicle to explore the journey these inmates have been on since arriving at San Quentin. TIMOTHY KENNEY

THURS JUNE 20

The Woman Who Loves Giraffes
Audience Favorite
In 1956, just after graduating college, Anne Innis Dagg went alone to South Africa to study giraffes. She was a pioneer in the research of a single animal in the wild, bringing back amazing film footage and observational notes. After returning from Africa, she earned a PhD, published numerous articles, wrote a foundational textbook on giraffes, and got into teaching. She wanted to do more giraffe research but found her way frustratingly blocked by sexist attitudes. So she worked to expose gender bias in academia and the failure to support women’s research. There’s been an effort lately to shine a light on women whose work may not have been adequately recognized before, and this doc shows the important scientific contributions and fascinating life of a giraffe-loving feminist pioneer. GILLIAN ANDERSON

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