Seattle International Film Festival moves into full swing this week, starting May 11 and running through May 21 before continuing with select online screenings May 22-28. If you’ve got teens in the house, festival programmers have created a line-up just for them. Films screened in the festival’s FutureWave program are created both by and for youth 13-18. This year’s FutureWave entries includes six features and a 94-minute reel of short films. For fully family-oriented films, check out the festival’s Films4Families program.
Below are SIFF programmer notes about each of the films offered under the FutureWave banner:
And the King Said, What a Fantastic Machine
Behold the beauty of archival footage – of which And the King Said, What a Fantastic Machine uses an amazing amount. This 88-minute documentary from Sweden’s Axel Danielson and Maximilien Van Aertryck (and which won the Sundance Special Jury Award) traces the history of the camera – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Get tickets.
SIFF program notes from Gavin Borchert: If Eadweard Muybridge—the photographer whose multiple images of a galloping horse in the 1870s became the first proto-movie—had been able to foresee Leni Riefenstahl, Showgirls, “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” and Instagram influencers, would he have bothered? Probably. But in their new doc, directors Axel Danielson and Maximilien Van Aertryck consider the question in a swift, collage-y 150-year history of the photographic image, musing about the effects, both beneficent and baleful, of its modern-day ubiquity. The title comes from a quote by Edward VII, who marveled at Georges Méliès’ 1902 silent short The Coronation of Edward VII—which was NOT a documentary simply recording the event (Méliès was denied permission to attend) but a staged recreation. And so it begins: the camera’s ability to lie as easily as it tells the truth.
Playing May 14 at 6p.m. and May 16 at 2:45 p.m. at SIFF Cinema Uptown. Get tickets.
Imagine you are a kid convinced your grandfather has come back to life as Siddhartha, the wandering 5th-century ascetic and religious teacher who founded Buddhism. That’s Anu, a 12-year-old Indian-American girl living in Seattle in this sweet 80-minute coming-of-age work by local filmmaker Sudeshna Sen.
SIFF program notes by Mackenzie Wardlow: Anu, a young Indian-American girl living in Seattle, struggles to process her grief after she witnesses her beloved grandfather Bapu die. When Bapu’s ghost visits her, Anu is convinced she can bring him back to life. Inspired by sadhu—Buddhist holy men—Anu goes on an ill-advised spiritual journey, resulting in bad haircuts, fainting spells, and a fake fortune-telling scheme. As a last-ditch effort, Anu and her friends journey to the Mystery Museum to see if the Kaptivating Konark can help her see Bapu one last time. This feature debut from Sudeshna Sen (Mehndi, SIFF 2018) delves deep into the realities of immigrant life and female agency. Keen viewers may notice that ANU is a local production, featuring businesses and locations in Ballard, Shoreline, and across Seattle. Adapted from the children’s novel “Looking for Bapu,” ANU is a family-friendly story about how kids interpret loss and how it can ultimately bring a family together.
Dates: May 14 at 4 p.m. at SIFF Cinema Egyptian and May 15 at 6 p.m. at Shoreline Community College. Get tickets.
Ah, growing up. Norway’s Aurora Gossé captures it well in Dancing Queen, a film that falls in the Little Miss Sunshine camp of feel-good films. In it, an awkward and shy 7th grader joins a hip-hop dance crew and ultimately must decide what’s most important to her. Get tickets.
SIFF program notes by Hebe Tabachnik: Bright, plucky, and still swaddled in a layer of baby fat, 12-year-old Mina (newcomer Liv Elvira Kippersund Larsson in an astonishing debut) is at that tender age where childhood games with best friend Markus are still an everyday thing, yet boys are beginning to pique her interest. Starting 7th grade in the small Norwegian village of Hamar and supported by a loving, tight-knit family, including her free-spirited grandmother (Anne Marit Jacobsen) once known as the Funky Juicy Mama, Mina’s world is rocked by the arrival of handsome new student Edwin (Viljar Knutsen Bjaadal), aka E.D. Win, famed hip-hop dancer. When Edwin announces that he’s starting a dance crew at school with the goal of winning The Mjøsa Challenge, the shy middle-schooler won’t let a little thing like not being able to dance get in her way. But as Mina rehearses new moves under grandma’s guidance, the pressure of fitting in with her hip new “friends” takes its toll as her grades suffer and tensions at home reach a breaking point. With the competition fast approaching, Mina comes to realize she must decide what matters most in this bright, joyous, and loving look at that tender age where identity is formed and being yourself is the best move of all.
Dates: May 16 at 6:30 p.m. and May 17 at 3:30 p.m. at SIFF Cinema Uptown. Get tickets.
Egghead & Twinkie
Road trip! In Sarah Kambe Holland’s 87-minute journey film, a recently out Asian American teen and her friend decide 2,000 miles is not too far to go to meet an online crush. Egghead & Twinkie is an LGBTQ+ coming-of-age comedy with heart and important life takeaways.
SIFF program notes by Emalie Soderback: After awkwardly coming out to her parents, Twinkie (Sabrina Jieafa), an Asian American teen, convinces her longtime best friend Egghead (Louis Tomeo) to accompany her on a cross-country road trip to meet her online crush at “LezDance,” a huge lesbian dance party happening in Texas. Among the many comic twists and turns that threaten the simple joys an open road has to offer is that the nerdy (and straight) Egghead also just confessed his love for Twinkie. Infused with bursts of vibrant animation and kinetic dream sequences, and filled to the brim with charm and humor, director Sarah Kambe Holland breathes some Gen Z fresh air into the classic road trip genre popularized in the 1980s. This debut feature confidently embraces the joy and freedom that so many queer coming-of-age movies don’t allow their characters and is a quirky, youthful celebration of embracing your identity, the ups and downs of best friendships, and the importance of taking risks.
Dates: May 19 at 6p.m. AMC Pacific Place, May 20 at 3 p.m. and May 22-28 streaming through SIFF. Get tickets.
Lonely Castle in the Mirror
For Japanese animation fans, Keiichi Hara’s Lonely Castle in the Mirror is a must. It’s the story of seven teenage outcasts who discover a portal to a magic castle. The trick is, once inside, they have to find a hidden key that will grant them wishes. 116 minutes.
SIFF program notes by Mackenzie Wardlow: One day, seven middle schoolers find themselves transported to a mysterious castle on the other side of their bedroom mirrors. Conspiring to win the prize set out by the mysterious Wolf Queen, they bond over their stories and make their own rules. Kokoro is miserable. She can’t bear to keep attending school, but she also can’t bring herself to tell her mom the extent of the bullying she faces. When her bedroom mirror mysteriously starts glowing one day, she takes her chance at escaping reality. She ends up transported to a magic castle and is given a quest by a girl who calls herself the Wolf Queen. Kokoro and six other kids have one year to find the magic key hidden inside the castle; whoever finds it first will get one wish granted. As months pass by, the kids begin to bond in their newfound safe space and discover they are more alike than they thought. Adapted from the bestselling Japanese novel of the same name, Lonely Castle in the Mirror is a magical realism story about struggling with mental health and how friendships can help you overcome your despair. It deftly balances its seven protagonists to create characters and relationships you deeply care about in the end. Appropriate for young audiences, but universal in themes of loneliness and friendship, Lonely Castle in the Mirror is a family-friendly crowd-pleaser.
Dates: May 14 at 4 p.m. at Shoreline Community College and May 19 at 3:30p.m. at SIFF Cinema Egyptian. Get tickets.
The theater camp founder is in a coma. That leaves counselors, the camp’s new owner, and a group of campers to pull together a summer show on their own. What could go wrong? Theater Camp is an 88-minute mockumentary about exactly that. Get tickets.
SIFF Program notes by Gavin Borchert: The feature-length expansion of the series of YouTube stop-motion shorts about Marcel the Shell with Shoes On led to a SIFF 2022 slot and an Academy Award® nomination; maybe the same will happen for this mockumentary about aspiring stage performers, taking off from an acclaimed 2020 short of the same name. The subject hasn’t changed: It’s still about a cash-strapped teen theater program led by talent-strapped faculty in upstate New York, and writers Ben Platt and Noah Galvin (who plays “third-generation stage manager” Glenn) and co-director Molly Gordon still anchor the cast. The plot? When the founder (comedy goddess Amy Sedaris) falls into a coma, prompting a foreclosure threat from a richer rival camp, the camp is forced to say, “Hey, kids, let’s put on a show!” as both a fundraising benefit and as a tribute to her. As anyone who’s seen Waiting for Guffman knows, there’s no easier target for satire than theater folk, but there’s also no audience more reliably presold, which led to a rapturous standing ovation at Theater Camp‘s January Sundance premiere.
Dates: May 20 at 6:30 p.m. at SIFF Cinema Uptown. Get tickets.
Film shorts are for the true movie lover. One sitting includes films is all shapes and genres and can be an exciting way to see promising new filmmakers. The Futurewave short film package is chock full of gems. This is a screening not to miss.
Dates: May 20 at 1 p.m. at SIFF Cinema Uptown and May 22-28 on SIFF streaming. Get tickets.
American Ball Game, 9 minutes, USA: During an awkward dinner with his best friend’s white family, Dan begins to face the harsh realities of his faith, appearance, and mortality.
The Audition, 2 min, USA: A teenage girl confidently arrives at her high school musical audition only to find that she doesn’t look like the other actors going for the part.
The Big One: The Day Bigfoot Shot Dad, 3 minutes, USA: A gruff father follows his lifelong dream of tracking down Bigfoot, only to realize that the biggest prize has been by his side all along.
Clean Sheet, 11 minutes, USA: The strength of a best friendship is tested when a new girl joins the group.
The External-Internal Monologue of an Interdependent Insomniac, 7 minutes, USA: Fraught with insecurities over sexuality, self-acceptance, and gender, a sleep-deprived teenager explains various smells.
The Flesh of Another, 10 minutes, USA: An experimental visual essay on toxic love that feels like a love letter to the New Queer Cinema movement of the 1990s.
Hanging by a Thread, 3 minutes, USA: A woman with a love for fashion design struggles to make money while pursuing her passion.
How to Survive Your First Date, 9 minutes, USA: In this dark parody of 1950s instructional films, Dotty and her date Darryl try to survive against the voyeuristic narrator manipulating their first date.
Ivy, 14 minutes, Germany: During a serious bout of pneumonia, Ivy experiences a fever dream in which she faces her greatest fear: death.
Maya, 8 minutes, USA: An adopted teenager struggles to understand her cultural identity and relationship with her mother after discovering her hidden baby photos.
ROOM, 9 minutes, USA: A teenager struggles with depression and social anxiety and locks himself away in a room of his own making.
The Station, 9 minutes, USA: A teenage boy and an outlaw find themselves on an abandoned steam train and discover that one of them does not belong there.
More at Seattle’s Child:
SIFF 2023: Family-friendly films