It's been a crazy month and I haven't made it to many Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) movies. Not like last year. Last year I felt tuned in. I saw eight movies, including what became my eventual no. 2 of the year, “Restrepo,” and I really only felt one of the eight (“Zona Sur”) was a waste of time.
This year I've only seen three, and, given my schedule, will probably only see one more before the whole thing shuts down in a week and a half. Of those three? One was a waste of time (“The First Grader”), one merely disappointed (“The Whistleblower”), and I'm still wrapping my mind around the third (“Black Venus”).
Each showing has suffered its technical difficulties, too.
- “The First Grader,” opening night at McCaw Hall, began 15 minutes late, and then we had to tack on another half-hour for all the corporate speeches. When the film finally began, it seemed underlit to me. Ten minutes in, the film abruptly stopped. When it came back on, we were five minutes earlier in the story and the film was, yes, now properly lit. Director in the house, too. Embarrassing.
- “The Whistleblower,” Sunday afternoon at the Egyptian, began 45 minutes late and seemed underlit.
- “Black Venus,” Sunday evening at the Egyptian, began more or less on time. But for some reason they couldn't show the digital film. Instead, in that big theater, we watched the DVD, which, particularly in far shots, was blurry, while for the entirety of the film the words PROPERTY OF MK2 PRODUCTIONS appeared in the upper right corner. Plus it seemed underlit.
I suppose we go through these kinds of technical problems every year. Doesn't make it any less bothersome. The opposite.