This year marks the 44th Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) featuring over 400 features, short films and documentaries that have been scooped up from all other world to be shown in various locations around the city. The best part? SIFF has created a special group of films called “Films4Families,” perfect for all ages. Scroll down to learn more about these must-see family flicks as well as five other family-friendly features playing May 17-June 10.

photo: SIFF

Bee Nation

Like an Indigenous version of Spellbound, this empowering documentary showcases the determination of six young participants in Canada’s inaugural First Nations Provincial Spelling Bee who, with the full support and encouragement of their community, dream of competing in the national championships in Toronto.

Director: Lana Slezic
Recommended Age: 7 & older
Country: Canada
Dates & Times: Sat., May 25 at 1 p.m. at Shoreline Community College; Mon., May 28 at 4 p.m. at SIFF Cinema Uptown
Running Time: 78 minutes

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photo: SIFF

Belle and Sebastian, Friends for Life

In the final chapter of the beloved family adventure about a boy and his dog, Sebastian is starting adolescence and Belle is now a devoted mother of three adorable pups, but a new challenge awaits after a stranger claims that he is Belle's rightful owner

Director: Clovis Cornillac
Cast: Felix Bossuet, Tcheky Karyo and Clovis Cornillac
Recommended Age: 9 & older
Country: France
Dates & Times: Sat., May 19 at 11:30 a.m. at Cinema Uptown; Sun., May 20 at 1 p.m. at Lincoln Square; Sat., June 2 at 1 p.m. at Kirkland Performance Center
Running Time: 97 minutes

photo: SIFF

The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales

From the creators of Ernest & Celestine comes three tales—a fox who mothers a family of chicks, a rabbit who plays the stork and a duck who wants to be Santa Claus—each told with a spontaneity and laugh-out-loud style reminiscent of classic Looney Tunes.

Directors: Patrick Imbert and Benjamin Renner
Voices: Kamel Abdessadok, Jules Bienvenu and Guillaume Bouchede
Recommended Age: 7 & older 
Country: France and Belgium
Dates & Times: Sun., May 27 at 11 a.m. at Pacific Place; Sat., June 2 at 11 a.m. at SIFF Cinema Egyptian
Running Time: 83 minutes

photo: SIFF

The Family Picture Show

Bring the whole family to the cinema for a playful set of animated, live action and documentary short films curated for the young and young at heart.

Recommended Age: All ages
Date & Time: Sat., May 26 at 11:30 a.m. at SIFF Cinema Uptown
Running Time: 82 minutes

photo: SIFF

Little Tito and the Aliens

In this moving family drama, a widowed Italian scientist (living isolated within a shipping container smack dab in the middle of nowhere Nevada) is asked to care for his teenage niece and precocious young nephew, forcing his curmudgeonly heart to find new life.

Diector: Paola Randi
Cast: Valerio Mastandrea and Clemence Poesy
Recommended Age: 9 & older 
Country: Italy
Dates & Times: Thurs., June 7 at 7 p.m., SIFF Cinema Uptown; Fri., June 8 at 4 p.m. at SIFF Cinema Egyptian; Sun., June 10 at 4:30 p.m. at Pacific Place
Running Time: 92 minutes

photo: SIFF

Moomins and the Winter Wonderland

Sweden’s beloved Rankin/Bass-style stop motion features the adorable fuzzy hippo-like creatures, the Moomins, who wake one morning to discover that winter has come to their peaceful valley.

Director: Ira Carpelan, Jakub Wronski and Bartosz Wierzbieta
Voices: Stellan Skarsgard, Alicia Vikander and Bill Skarsgard
Recommended Age: All ages
Country: Finland and US
Dates & Times: Sat., May 19 at 1 p.m. at Majestic Bay; Sun., May 20 at 11:30 a.m. at SIFF Cinema Uptown; Mon., May 28 at 1 p.m. at Shoreline Community College
Running Time: 83 minutes

photo: SIFF

Supa Modo

In this beautiful, bittersweet and profound film from Kenya, a town comes together to make the wishes of a terminally ill young girl come true—help her achieve her dreams of becoming a superhero through the magic of cinema.

Director: Likarion Wainaina
Cast: Stycie Waweru, Marrianne Nungo and Nyawara Ndambia
Recommended Ages: 9 & older
Country: Kenya and Germany
Dates & Times: Sun;, May 20 at 6 p.m. at Ark Lodge Cinemas; Sun., May 27 at 3:30 p.m. at SIFF Cinema Uptown; Fri., June 1 at 4:30 p.m. at Shoreline Community College
Running Time: 74 minutes

photo: SIFF

Zombillenium

Welcome to Zombillenium, an amusement park where every day is Halloween, staffed by actual werewolves, vampires, witches and zombies! When a nosy safety inspector unwillingly becomes a member of the undead workforce, he embarks on a mission to make the park a better place.

Directors: Arthur de Pins and Alexiz Ducord
Recommended Ages: 9 & older
Country: France and Belgium
Dates & Times: Mon., June 28 at 11 a.m.; Wed., June 6 at 4 p.m.; Sat., June 9 at 11 a.m. (all showing at SIFF Cinema Egyptian)
Running Time: 80 minutes

photo: SIFF

Zoo

As the Blitzkrieg hits Belfast in 1941, young teenager Tom Hall and a misfit crew daringly break into their local zoo to protect a baby elephant named Buster from being killed. Based on the remarkable true story.

Director: Colin McIvor
Cast: Toby Jones, Art Parkinson, Ian McElhinney, Peneope Wilton and Amy Huberman
Country: Ireland
Dates & Times: Sun., June 3 & Sun., June 10 at 11:30 a.m. at SIFF Cinema Uptown
Running Time: 96 minutes

photo: SIFF

Inventing Tomorrow

Meet the passionate teen innovators from around the globe who dedicate their blood, sweat and Bunsen burners to craft cutting-edge solutions to the world's environmental threats and present their findings at the world's largest high school science competition, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

Director: Laura Nix
Cast: Jared Goodwin, Sahithi Pingali, Shofi Latifa Nuha Anfaresi, Fernando Miguel Sanchez Villalobos and Jesus Alfonso Martinez Aranda
Country: US
Dates & Times: Fri., May 18 at 4:30 p.m. at Majestic Bay; Fri., June 1 at 6:30 p.m. at SIFF Cinema Uptown; Sat., June 2 at 11:30 a.m. at SIFF Cinema Uptown
Running Time: 105 minutes

photo: SIFF

Making the Grade

Every year, over 30,000 students prepare for rigorous and daunting piano exams in Ireland. Welcoming audiences into living rooms, music studios and churches, this edifying documentary explores the bond between teachers and pupils as well as the intense musical dedication required to make the grade.

Director: Ken Wardrop
Country: Ireland
Dates & Times: Tue., May 22 at 6:30 p.m., Sat., May 26 at 11 a.m.; Sun., June 3 at 1 p.m. at Kirkland Performance Center
Running Time: 96 minutes

photo: SIFF

Pick of the Litter

It's puppies galore and a ruff'n good time as you watch five Labrador siblings undertake guide dog training, from basic manners to the intensive 10-week course, after their first birthday. If only everyone could graduate; not that there's anything wrong with being a fluffy civilian.

Directors: Don Hardy Jr. and Dana Nachman
Country: US
Dates & Times: Wed., May 23 at 4:30 p.m. at Majestic Bay; Mon., June 4 at 7 p.m. at AMC Pacific Place
Running Time: 80 minutes

photo: SIFF

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom) presents the heartwarming life of Fred Rogers whose cherished PBS series used cardigans, puppets, and the Neighborhood of Make-Believe to imaginatively and compassionately inspire children, while not shying away from complicated issues.

Director: Morgan Neville
Cast: Fred Rogers
Country: US
Dates & Times: Sat., May 26 at 6 p.m.; Sun., May 27 at 1:30 p.m. (both screenings at SIFF Cinema Uptown)
Running Time: 93 minutes

photo: SIFF

The SIFF VR Zone

This year, the festival is unveiling a new feature called The SIFF VR Zone created by Seattle’s WonderTek Labs. Presented at Pacific Place, the VR Zone will include both 360 Storytelling stations, presenting arthouse-level 360 video content and an Interactive Gallery featuring interactive experiential content in 8-10 individual booths. Each 90-minute session will allow guests to choose over two dozen VR and 360 video experiences, including 360 Outer Space, 360 Out of Africa, 360 Experimental Storytelling, 360 Narrative Storytelling 360 Documentary, 360 Art & Music and Youth 360 Showcase.

VR Zone Session Times: Fri.-Sun., May 18-20 at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Location: Pacific Place

Good to Know
According to SIFF, more than 70 percent of the films screened at the festival will not return to theaters, so this may be the only time that you can catch these flicks. Movies accumulated for this grouping come from France, Japan, Spain, China, the United Kingdom and, of course, the United States.

Venue Locations
AMC Pacific Place  – 600 Pine St., Seattle
Ark Lodge Cinemas – 4816 Rainier Ave. S., Ballard
Kirkland Performance Center – 350 Kirkland Ave., Kirkland
Lincoln Square Cinemark Theatres – 700 Bellevue Way N.E., Bellevue
Majestic Bay Theatres – 2044 N.W. Market St., Seattle
Shoreline Community College Theater – 16101 Greenwood Ave. N., Shoreline
SIFF Cinema Uptown – 511 Queen Anne Ave. N., Seattle
SIFF Cinema Egyptian – 805 E. Pine St., Seattle
SIFF Film Center – 305 Harrion St., Seattle

Ticket Information
Tickets for regular screenings: $14/Adults; $13/Youth (20 & under) and Seniors (65 & older); $12/SIFF members (present card at box office).

Tickets for matinee screenings (before 5:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri. excluding Memorial Day): $11/Adults; $9/SIFF members (present card at Box Office); $5/Teen Tix members (day of show only).

Tickets for Films4Familes (select morning screenings): $8/Adults; $6/SIFF members (present card at box office); $5/Teen Tix members (day of show only).

Tickets for the VR Zone: $25/Adults & Youth; $20/SIFF members (present card)

Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 206-324-996.

Online: siff.net/festival

Are you planning to attend this year’s SIFF with your kids? Have you attended in the past and have tips to share? Tell us in the comments below.

—Jeffrey Totey

All photos courtesy of the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF).

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