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25th Seattle International
Film Festival (1999)

by Eddie Cockrell

I'll Need a Double ...
Posted 18 June 1999

"f this one’s no good I’ll need a double," came the voice from a few rows back just before the lights went down on one of the remarkably punctual three-a-day press screenings well into the home stretch of the 25th annual Seattle International Film Festival, held May 13 to June 6 in this beautiful and vibrant Northwest city.

This being Seattle, there’s a fifty-fifty chance the fatigued critic meant coffee -- although the pace and sheer size of this the affable event, lustily endorsed by the city and thus well-attended by the inquisitive and supportive natives, might’ve driven the scribe to a stronger drink.

Seattle is a study in contradictions, the golly-gee atmosphere of the civic embrace of the festival. And then there are the locals, the legendarily responsive and nurturing public known for being among the most savvy in the nation ("I’ve heard about you guys," said one visiting filmmaker before the lights went down on the first-ever screening of his film, echoing what a lot of directors think about premiering a movie here).

To mark the first quarter century of the festival’s existence, founding director Darryl Macdonald supplemented the usual lineup of international festival favorites and American independent premieres with a sidebar event reprising some of the titles given American premieres at the festival in years past. This impressive list of 10 titles included Denys Arcand’s Jesus of Montreal, Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Alan Rudolph’s Choose Me, Julio Medem’s Cows, Lars von Trier’s Element of Crime, Carl Franklin’s One False Move, and a selection of Dutch films -- which the festival claims to have championed well before other American events -- featuring two early works by Starship Troopers director Paul Verhoeven, 1975’s Cathy Tippel and 1983’s The Fourth Man. The print of Hector Babenco’s The Kiss of the Spiderwoman, previously announced for the section, didn’t make it due to some sort of rights snafu.

The remaining bulk of the festival, which numbered some 200+ feature films spread out over six downtown venues, was split into numerous, easy to digest sections. In addition to the de rigeur Contemporary World Cinema, there were sections dedicated to new directors, American independents (including 10 new films in a juried competition), documentaries, archival presentations, new Canadian films, films for families, packages of short works and midnight attractions. Among the most popular programs were the late-festival sneak preview of a new film, each weekend’s "Secret Festival" presentation and an all-night "Drive-In Party" of four B-movie-ish titles culled from the festival at large.

One of the more adventurous and opinionated sidebar events was "Emerging Masters," which highlighted recent work by Polish director Dorota Kedzierzawska, French auteur Francois Ozon, British helmer Michael Winterbottom and hot German filmmaker Tom Tykwer (whose new movie Run Lola Run won the festival’s Golden Space Needle Best Film award).

The flagship screenings included the opening night gala presentation of Francis Veber’s The Dinner Game, an evening with John Sayles introducing and discussing the American premiere of his new movie Limbo, 25th anniversary presentations of five new high-profile films, and the closing night premiere of the sequel starring everyone’s favorite British agent In Need of a Dentist, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

Non-screening festival events included a virtual auction of movie poster art in partnership with, work by 25 local teams of artists inspired by the festival motto "Life. Flashed Before Your Eyes.", the third edition of a self-described movie "boot camp" called "Fly Filmmaking" and a three-day "Filmmakers Forum" featuring round-table discussions with visiting professionals on a broad range of subjects affecting the creative impulse as well as the industry as a whole.

One of the programming strategies employed by the Seattle team is to backload the schedule with premieres, which serves to make the last 10 days to two weeks of the event of keen interest to the festival veteran. What follows, then, is a modest cross-section of films seen primarily during the latter stages of the festivities -- in amongst the cozy and laid-back social events that seem to be organized almost every night by the attentive but understandably frazzled staff.

Readers seeking further information on the festival and its umbrella organization, Cinema Seattle, are directed to

1999 Golden Space Needle Awards

Best film:

  • Run Lola Run (Germany) , Director Tom Tykwer


  • 2nd Place: The Red Violin (Canada)
  • 3rd Place: Limbo (USA)
  • 4th Place: Earth (Canada/India)
  • 5th Place: Say You'll Be Mine (USA)

Best Director:

  • John Sayles For Limbo (USA)


  • 2nd Place: Tom Tykwer for Run Lola Run (Germany)
  • 3rd Place: Deepa Mehta for Earth (Canada/India)
  • 4th Place: Don McKellar for Last Night (Canada)
  • 5th Place: Francois Girard for The Red Violin (Canada)

Best Actor:

  • Rupert Everett, An Ideal Husband (Great Britain)


  • 2nd Place: David Strathairn, Limbo (USA)
  • 3rd Place: Hugo Weaving, Following (Great Britain)/ Bedrooms And Hallways (Great Britain)/The Interview (Australia)
  • 4th Place: Roshan Seth, Such A Long Journey (Canada)
  • 5th Place: Alex Dimitriades, Head On (Australia)

Best Actress:

  • Piper Laurie, The Mao Game (USA)


  • 2nd Place: Julianne Moore, An Ideal Husband (Great Britain)
  • 3rd Place: Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Limbo (USA)
  • 4th Place: Helen Mirren, The Passion Of Ayn Rand (USA)
  • 5th Place: Sandra Oh, Last Night (Canada)

Best Documentary:

  • Buena Vista Social Club (Germany), Director Wim Wenders


  • 2nd Place: Ghengis Blues (USA)
  • 3rd Place: Shadow Boxers (USA)
  • 4th Place: Regret To Inform (USA)
  • 5th Place: Rabbit In The Moon (USA)

Best Short Film:

  • 12 Stops On The Road To Nowhere (USA), Director Jay Lowi


  • 2nd Place: Peep Show (USA)
  • 3rd Place: The Girl With The Scissors (Norway)
  • 4th Place: Quest For The Noble Desert Poodle (USA)
  • 5th Place: Tulip (Australia)

American Independent Award:

  • Dead Dogs (USA, 1999) , Producer Regge Bulman, Director Clay Eide

American Independent Filmmaker Award Special Jury Prize

  • Piper Laurie for her performance in THE MAO GAME (USA, 1999) , Produced by Jodi Leesley, Gail Niederhoffer, Josh Woodward, Directed by Joshua Miller

New Directors Showcase Award

  • Patrice Toye for Rosie (Belgium, 1998)

New Directors Showcase Award Special Jury Prize

  • Oskar Reif For The Bed (Czech Republic, 1998)

 New Directors Showcase Award Special Jury Prize

  • Torun Lian for Only Clouds Move The Stars (Norway, 1998)

Atom Films Short Film Award

  • Mutiny (USA, 1998), Director Henry Griffin

Honorable Mention:

  • In The Mirror Of The Sky (Mexico, 1998), Director Carlos Salles

Washington State Screenwriter Award

  • Dragons by George Wing

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