Ten Seattle International Film Fest Movies to Watch For

The Seattle International Film Festival is huge. Something like 400 feature films are shown, plus goodness knows how many shorts, and the thing lasts 25 days. The fest is epic.

Even if you had unlimited time and resources, you still couldn't see everything in the festival. We haven't seen everything, either, but here are 10 films we've seen and can recommend to you. And if you're not attending SIFF (which kicks off this week and runs through June 15), keep an eye out for these movies at other festivals or -- hopefully -- in theaters in the coming months.

10 SIFF Films To Watch For:

American Teen

This outstanding documentary about a random assortment of Midwestern high school seniors is, as I've said before, one of the best movies of any kind that I've seen all year. It's entertaining and captivating and you'll love it. Maybe you will read my review and see what I'm talking about.

Anvil! The Story of Anvil

OK, I haven't actually seen this. But it played at Sundance this year, and I heard from one person after another that it was fantastic, so much better than you'd think. It's a doc about a heavy metal band that's been together for 20 years without ever becoming famous. Someone described it as a real-life Spinal Tap.

Baghead

This is an example of the Mumblecore movement that Cole Drumb explained to us a few days ago. In fact, it's in some ways a spoof of the movement, about four twentysomething would-be filmmaker friends who go to a cabin for a creative weekend and are terrorized by ... a man with a bag on his head. It's funnier than it sounds.

Choke

It's hard to believe that a novelist as brilliant as Chuck Palahniuk has only been adapted once before, with Fight Club. This one's not quite at that level, but the film -- starring Sam Rockwell as a sex-addicted, colonial-village reenactor who pretends to choke in restaurants so that witnesses can save his life -- is audacious, funny, and very, very screwed up.

The Great Buck Howard

John Malkovich plays a cheesy "mentalist" (think The Amazing Kreskin) whose career is in need of revitalization. Colin Hanks (Tom's son) plays his new assistant tasked with helping him. Malkovich's performance is hilariously nutty. (Editor's Note: Amanda reviewed the film here.)

Mongol

Didn't C. Robert Cargill tell us just a couple weeks ago how fantastic this Russian-made biopic of Genghis Khan is? Yes, I believe he did! It was nominated for an Oscar, too. You should watch it.

Phoebe in Wonderland

Elle Fanning plays a peculiar little girl whose obsessive-compulsive tendencies only seem to let up when she's rehearsing for her school play. With sweet humor and insight, the film examines modern parenting techniques and schools that seek to squeeze all the childishness out of children. Felicity Huffman, Bill Pullman, Patricia Clarkson, and Campbell Scott are on board, too.

Stranded: I've Come From a Plane that Crashed on the Mountains

Remember the story about the 1974 plane crash in the Andes where the survivors had to resort to cannibalism? This is a documentary about it. With the survivors. Who have never told their stories on film before. And who are taken back to the place where it happened as part of the documentary process. Yes, it's as compelling as it sounds.

Timecrimes

This is an ingenious little Spanish film about a guy who sees a naked woman in the woods near his house, and then a man with bandages on his head, and then some other crazy stuff. Time travel is involved. It's mind-bending and awesome. An American remake is in the works; I have every confidence it will be disastrous. See the original.

Towelhead

A 13-year-old Arab-American girl is sent to live with her strict Lebanese father in Texas -- in 1990, right in the middle of the first Gulf War. Not a good time to be Arab-American and in Texas. Not helping: the man three times her age who lives down the street and has the hots for her. You can read my review from Sudance to see how, exactly, the film manages to be witty and empowering rather than sleazy.

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Eric D. Snider (website) is also witty and empowering rather than sleazy.