SIFF Begins! Checking in with Carl Spence

Jenise Silva has been attending the Seattle International Film Festival for more than a decade—logging in more than 100 films viewed in some years. She's been attending other film festivals for more than two decades including the Toronto International Film Festival, the Montreal Film Festival, Sundance and Tribeca. Jenise has also served on film programming committees for several organizations including Cinema Center (Fort Wayne, IN), the Festival of New Canadian Cinema (Indianapolis) and Three Dollar Bill for the Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. Most recently she served as an advisory committee member for the Seattle Jewish Film Festival. Here she speaks with SIFF artistic director Carl Spence about his long hisory with movies and the festival.

Q. What is one of your earliest film recollections?
A. As a kid I recall seeing lots the animated Disney films. Even the non-animated films from Disney—like Freaky Friday with Jodie Foster—really made an early film impression on me.
Q. What was your first break into the film industry?
A. My film career really started at the University of Washington in the early '90s. I spent two years curating film programs for ASUW. It was a great experience to just figure out what you were doing and how to basically get things done on your own. As a student I couldn't think of a better job!
Q. With all of the years you've been overseeing the artistic vision for SIFF, what are some of the directors and films that have made an impression on you?
A. There are really so many, but I would have to say that I have a strong affinity for Lars Von Trier—specifically his film The Kingdom. I'm also taken by Terry Gilliam's Brazil and (David) Lynch's Wild at Heart. Akira Kurosawa is another director that I'm always impressed with and would have to say that his film Dodesukaden is on the top of my list. And I guess I would round things out with a director and film that we had at the festival a few years back—Paul Berger's Toreminos 73.
Q. You've obviously spent many hours sitting in movie theaters throughout the years. In your opinion what are some of the best houses to see a movie?
A. Well, of course in Seattle, SIFF Cinema. There's also a great little theater in Eugene, OR, called the Baghdad. And if you are ever in Berlin I would highly recommend the Zoo Palast, which used to host the Berlin Film Festival.
Q. Any favorite movie snacks while you're watching all of those films?
A.  Chocolate salted caramels. And of course, the movie classic: popcorn.
Q. SIFF runs for 25 days and offers more than 400 films—what are the highlights folks should look for while combing through their festival schedules?
A. Again, there are so many to choose from, but if I had to mention a couple off the top of my head I would say you can't beat Hedgehog or Trotsky. And I really like this film we found at the Berlin Film festival called Imani. The director, from Uganda, will also be a guest at the festival.
The Seattle International Film Festivals runs through June 13th. For a complete listing of films, showtimes and ticket information please visit