By Noah Foster-Koth

This year’s Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) began on Thursday, May 14th, with a screening of the Melissa McCarthy comedy, Spy. Over the next month, SIFF will host screenings of several foreign and domestic films at various theater venues in Seattle, including the Egyptian Theater and the organization’s own SIFF Film Center. SIFF was founded by Dan Ireland and Darryl MacDonald in 1976. Back then, the festival lasted two weeks and showed less than twenty films. For 2015, SIFF will run for more than three weeks and feature 450 movies. The festival is known for screening small, low budget films, although mainstream movies like The Empire Strikes Back and Braveheart have also premiered at the festival. The following are The Roosevelt News’ picks for the three most promising films to screen during this year’s festival.

 

Ex Machina

Attendees can only speculate on the quality of the other films on this list, which won’t be released until SIFF opens its doors this Thursday. However, Ex Machina has already been released and is recommended for sci-fi buffs, especially fans of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.  The directorial debut of novelist-turned-screenwriter Alex Garland depicts the tense relationship between a computer programmer, an ego-maniacal scientist, and the latter’s humanoid robot creation. The central question of the film is whether or not artificial intelligence could fully replicate the mind of a living creature. Many other films have explored this idea, but Garland’s eerie, clever screenplay injects new life into the familiar premise.

Mr. Holmes

Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories have been brought to the silver screen dozens of times, most recently with a machine-gun-toting Robert Downey Jr. in the title role. Early trailers for Mr. Holmes suggest that director Bill Condon and star Ian McKellen are taking a very different approach than Richie and Downey did. Unlike BBC’s TV series, Sherlock, which transposes Holmes’ adventures to the modern day, Mr. Holmes depicts a 93-year-old incarnation of the famous detective after his brilliant mind has partially succumbed to dementia. It’s a melancholy premise, but anything starring Ian McKellen is a safe bet.

Shaun the Sheep

Nowadays, most animated films are brought to life with computers, which is why many are excited to see Shaun the Sheep for a cheery change of pace. The latest film from Aardman Animations, the studio behind Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run, was crafted using “claymation”, an old-fashioned animation technique similar to stop-motion animation. Early reviews report that Shaun the Sheep doesn’t have any dialogue; the characters only communicate with their facial expressions. Shaun the Sheep isn’t the most daring or complicated film to screen at SIFF, but it might be a nice break from the festival’s darker, R-rated fare.

You can buy tickets for screenings here

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