The Stranger's 2019 SIFF Picks

I Wish I'd Had Booksmart in High School

Annapurna Pictures

Booksmart is about Molly and Amy (Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever), two accomplished girls who are currently enjoying their final day of high school—and realizing that they've alienated all of their peers by focusing only on school and each other. (Molly and Amy are fun! Just focused.)

Then something snaps, and Molly decides the pair needs a party experience before graduation, which kicks off an epic night of social awkwardness, attempted hook-ups, accidental drug use, and inescapable theater kids.

The love-you-to-death friendship between Molly and Amy is the heart of director Olivia Wilde and writers Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, and Katie Silberman's movie, and major credit is due to Dever and Feldstein for crushing that chemistry.

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Seattle's Queen of Gospel Soul Receives Cinematic Hallelujahs in the Reverent Patrinell: The Total Experience

The woman of the hour
The woman of the hour

With the public primed by Amazing Grace, the documentary about the making of Aretha Franklin’s 1972 gospel album, it’s a propitious time to view Patrinell: The Total Experience. Reverend Patrinell Staten Wright is the closest thing Seattle has to the Queen of Soul (albeit with a heavier emphasis on church life), and this film portrays the septuagenarian gospel/R&B singer’s inspirational story with utmost reverence. A strict disciplinarian, Wright headed the multiracial Total Experience Gospel Choir and impacted hundreds of lives through her spiritual and artistic tutelage. Patrinell reveals a woman who’s battled racism, sexism, gentrification, and health problems to become what one of her protégés called “our Rosa Parks, MLK, and Barack Obama.”

Patrinell: The Total Experience screens this Sunday and Monday, May 26 and 27, at the 45th Seattle International Film Festival. Further details here. Check out The Stranger's complete SIFF guide here.

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Party in the Middle of Lake Union

Lester Black

I was sitting on a sailboat on Lake Union on a warm Tuesday in May when the ship's captain ran into a problem. We were minutes into the first Duck Dodge sailing race of the season, and the skipper was yelling at his crew to jibe—a difficult sailing maneuver where one sail goes slack and flips to the opposite side of the boat. No amount of rope tugging could put the sail in the correct position. Other ships raced past us. Our boat sat still. Disorder ensued.

"It's stuck on the cooler!" someone yelled. A young woman in khaki shorts freed the rope, letting the sail slide into position and catch the wind. Our cooler snafu had cost us precious minutes. But our captain, BJ, a fiftysomething retired Microsoft employee, seemed more concerned with the temperature of the boat's beer than our scuttled start.

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Regina Hall Is in the House at the 45th Seattle International Film Festival

Regina Hall (center) is the emotionally exhausted manager of a breastaurant in ‘Support the Girls.’
Regina Hall (center) is the emotionally exhausted manager of a breastaurant in Support the Girls. COURTESY OF MAGNOLIA PICTURES

The 1990s saw the birth of a new kind of black cinema. These were films that, despite being produced for black audiences, had real budgets. They cost millions to make and upheld basic Hollywood production standards. True, the budgets of these films were, in comparison to those made for white audiences (default Americans), small—but compared to earlier black-made films for black markets, the budgets were gigantic. The black people portrayed in these films—which were, if not a romantic comedy/drama, a straight-up comedy or drama—tended to be middle- or upper-class and not preoccupied with racism.

Black 1990s cinema also featured a new breed of black talent that was eventually identified as "black Hollywood," and its stars are now black-household names: Nia Long, Larenz Tate, Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox, Jada Pinkett Smith, Omar Epps, Ice Cube, and, of course, Regina Hall.

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Juan Antin’s César-Nominated Pachamama Is a Gorgeously Wrought Animated Incan Adventure

Our adventuring heroes
Our adventuring heroes

Named for the earth/fertility goddess revered by the indigenous people of the Andes, Juan Antin’s César-nominated animated adventure Pachamama follows two precocious youths and their trusty animal companions, as they embark from a small Peruvian village at the edge of the vast Incan empire on a quest to the royal capital (which ends up besieged by Spanish conquerors) to retrieve a sacred statue forcibly taken by an Incan overlord.

Antin’s gorgeously wrought 3-D CGI animation is inspired by vibrant indigenous art, and has a soft, simple, and whimsical feel, like a children’s storybook. Paired with a soundtrack that features pre-Columbian music (ancient water flutes included) and themes of love, respect, and gratitude to our earth threaded throughout, Pachamama manages to entertain, charm, and introduces a new culture to younger viewers. The film was acquired by Netflix and will be available for streaming in June.

Pachamama has its last screening on Monday, May 25, at the 45th Seattle International Film Festival. Further details here. Check out The Stranger's complete SIFF guide here.

PACHAMAMA - Movie Trailer

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Reader Advice Round-up: Cremasters, Huzzbenns, and Abortions in Georgia


Recent Savage Love Letters of the Day: His boyfriend made constant and baseless accusations of cheating and then he cheated, the man she married stole her car, he loves having his balls sucked but it hurts and that sucks, sexually inexhaustible husband expects too much from completely exhausted wife, and, as always, last week's column and Savage Lovecast.

I talked about abortion rights and Georgia's abortion ban on the top of a recent Lovecast and someone involved in the fight on the ground there wrote in with some great points...

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A New Restaurant from the Chef Behind Il Corvo and More Seattle Food News You Can Use: May 24, 2019 Edition

Book your tables now: Il Corvo chef Mike Eastons newly opened West Seattle restaurant Il Nido is the most coveted new reservation in town.
Book your tables now: Il Corvo chef Mike Easton's newly opened West Seattle restaurant Il Nido is the most coveted new reservation in town. Kelly O

Il Corvo fans tired of waiting in line for handmade pasta, rejoice: This week, chef Mike Easton opens his buzzed-about restaurant Il Nido in West Seattle, and it's open for dinner five nights a week (snagging a reservation, however, might be easier said than done). Plus, Capitol Hill gets a new spot for Sichuan-style Chinese food, and a new chocolate factory opens in Pike Place Market this weekend. Read on for that and more culinary inspiration and food news for your weekend. For more ideas, try our list of Seattle food and drink specials to try in May, our Memorial Day calendar, and our full food and drink calendar.

Chuan on Capitol
This Chinese restaurant specializing in Sichuan-style "dry pots" (a hot pot dish without the broth) softly opened in Capitol Hill on Sunday, May 19, and plans to have its grand opening by the end of next week. The dry pots are customizable, with protein choices like rabbit, spare ribs, and fried shrimp and options for spice levels and add-ons. The menu also includes side dishes like wontons, beef noodle soup, and fried rice and drinks like iced tea and Hong Kong-style milk tea.
Capitol Hill

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SDOT Recommends Spending up to $420 Million on a New Magnolia Bridge

An artistic interpretation of one of Seattles wealthiest neighborhoods.
An artistic interpretation of one of Seattle's wealthiest neighborhoods. STEVIE SHAO

The city released their latest study yesterday on what to do with the aging Magnolia Bridge, which was built 90 years ago and needs to be demolished. The city’s Department of Transportation (SDOT) studied four options for after the bridge comes down and, surprise surprise, their recommendation is to spend between $200 to $420 million on building a new automobile bridge.

SDOT’s two preferred options are to either rebuild the Magnolia Bridge with a nearly identical, modern bridge ($340 to $420 million). Or replace the Magnolia Bridge with a new span positioned about a half mile north ($200-$350 million). If these projects seem expensive wait till I tell you the second part of this story: the city has not identified any local, state, or federal funding sources for these bridges, according to Ethan Bergerson, an SDOT spokesperson.

“What we’re looking at now is there are several different possibilities but funding hasn’t been identified for them,” Bergerson told The Stranger on Thursday. He also said SDOT does not have a specific year that the bridge needs to come down and that it is currently being monitored for safety.

Here were the four options studied:

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Going Hiking in the Mountains? You Don't Need to Take Your Car

Courtesy of King County

If you haven't been enjoying the mountain wilderness lately, you might not know that parking at the more popular hikes off Interstate 90 has become a nightmare.

Two weeks ago, as I pulled into the Mailbox Peak parking lot at 9 a.m., two county employees stopped me. They said the lot for the trailhead had been full since 7:30 a.m. If I wanted somewhere safe to park, I'd need to drive back to North Bend and catch a shuttle to the trailhead. Like an idiot, I ignored the recommendation, parked a mile away, and walked down a dangerous mountain road back to the trailhead, complaining that I'd never seen the Mailbox parking lot so full, especially not this early in the season.

This is exactly the kind of situation King County Metro and King County Parks were trying to avoid when they introduced the Trailhead Direct program in 2017.

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Human Nature Looks at a Powerful New Discovery, CRISPR, That Has the Potential to Change Humanity, for Better or Worse

Science fiction has become reality
Science fiction has become reality

CRISPR, a recently discovered molecular cleaver that revolutionized genetic editing, could end genetic diseases as we know them—but it could also usher in a new era of eugenics and designer babies. Adam Bolt's Human Nature doesn’t shy away from either of these extremes and offers no easy answers to the ethical minefield of tinkering with our DNA. Far from a dry science seminar, the beautifully shot documentary uses a clever combination of simplistic genetic animations and compelling characters to convey the power of this discovery and why it has the potential to change what it means to be human.

Human Nature screens this Saturday and Monday, May 25 and 27, at the 45th Seattle International Film Festival. Further details here. Check out The Stranger's complete SIFF guide here.

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What's Going on with Bumbershoot 2019?

It's been two weeks since Bumbershoot said they were going to announce their 2019 lineup. On May 6, they tweeted a big sparkly "B," which seemed to hint at their headlining act, telling us that the lineup would come that Friday. Since then, there's been near radio silence. After several hours of waiting, the festival simply tweeted "We're still tinkering. 'B' right back" with a "BRB" photo like some sort of AIM away message.

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Director Ying Liang Returns to Familiar Territory (Chinese Authoritarianism) but Adds a Personal, Humorous Touch in A Family Tour


While attending a film festival in Taiwan, an exiled-from-China filmmaker (Gong Zhe) takes the opportunity to secretly reunite with her mainlander mother via the chaos of a sightseeing bus tour. The Chinese government does not approve. Writer/director Ying Liang, himself an exile, brings an absorbing sense of reality to the potentially melodramatic scenario in A Family Tour, particularly during the times when the characters are able to briefly drop the charade. (The hushed conversations between the lead and her supportive husband have a gorgeously unforced intimacy.) It’s a small marvel of gentle humor—the glimpses of the surrounding tourists are hilariously on-point—and uncomfortably pointed insights, featuring multiple sneaky moments of grace.

A Family Tour screens Friday, May 24, and Monday, May 27, at the 45th Seattle International Film Festival. Further details here. Check out The Stranger's complete SIFF guide here.

Last-Minute Plans: 82 Free, Cheap & Easy Things To Do in Seattle This Weekend: May 24-27, 2019

The Memorial Day weekend hippie fest Northwest Folklife Festival kicks off on Friday.
The Memorial Day weekend hippie fest Northwest Folklife Festival kicks off on Friday. Christopher Nelson

Panicking because you don’t know what to do for Memorial Day weekend and you're short on cash? Don't worry—below, find all of your options for last-minute entertainment that won't cost more than $10, ranging from the a show with lauded Seattle rapper DoNormaal to Free Burgers on Memorial Day at Li'l Woody's, and from a Cold Cube Anthology Release Party to Pride Asia Fest. For even more options, check out our complete Things To Do calendar and our list of cheap & easy things to do in Seattle all year long.

Found something you like and don't want to forget about it later? Click "Save Event" on any of the linked events below to add it to your own private list.



  1. Northwest Folklife Festival
    The goal of Folklife is noble as heck: “We envision strong communities, united by arts and culture… When people share aspects of their culture, opportunities are created to dissolve misunderstandings, break down stereotypes, and increase respect for one another.” What does this translate to? A gigantic Memorial Day weekend hippie fest full of lovely people dancing, performing world music from “yodeling to beatboxing” and everything in between, serving tasty street food, and leading workshops in arts and crafts. It’s a great, if potentially overwhelming, people-watching experience, plus a great way to see local music. The 2019 spotlight is "Youth Rising."
    (Seattle Center, $10 suggested donation)

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Stuffed Offers an Intriguing and Surprisingly Not Morbid Peek Into the World of Taxidermy

Allis Markham of Prey Taxidermy in Los Angeles
Allis Markham of Prey Taxidermy in Los Angeles working on a subject.

This is one of those documentaries where you don’t think you’re that interested in the subject matter, and maybe the whole thing seems sort of morbid, but then it ends up being really fascinating and you learn about things that you never even knew existed. Witnessing the dedication of the artists and the broad range of people who are drawn to the craft of taxidermy is what makes Stuffed a great watch.

It’s definitely not (only) a bunch of guys dressed in camo who shoot animals and are trying to figure out what to do with them. There are people working for natural history museums, artists making still-lifes that include real birds and animals, and avant-garde creators producing creature hybrids or internal organ taxidermy.

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Democratic Sen. Guy Palumbo Resigns to Become a Lobbyist for Amazon

Have fun in the private sector, my man!
Have fun in the private sector, my man! Lester Black

On Friday morning, Sen. Guy Palumbo (D-Maltby) told colleagues he's resigning before the last year of his term to return to the private sector. Palumbo defeated Republican Mindie Wirth to win his seat in 2016.

The party organizations in the 1st Legislative District, which spans King and Snohomish counties, will nominate three people to both county councils for approval. The councils will pick one of those choices to fill out the term.

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