SIFF 2017 Highlights: Inescapable Powers

City of Ghosts (dir. Matthew Heineman, 2017)

City of Ghosts (dir. Matthew Heineman, 2017)

Editor’s Note: The following review is part of our coverage of the 2017 Seattle International Film Festival . For more information please visit .

Seattle’s 43rd International Film Festival saw an incredibly diverse selection of films, giving attendees more options from more countries than ever before – but in themes, the selection was just as diverse. One pattern I saw, in particular, was films about inescapable powers. As for what powers those might be, well, it varied from film to film, but three in particular stood out to me. One was about the inescapable relationship between capitalistic men and racism; one was about toxic masculinity’s unshakeable stranglehold on young males; and one was about the impossibility of outrunning both terrifying regimes and survivor’s guilt.

Beatriz at Dinner

Director: Miguel Arteta

In the duration of just one dinner party, Miguel Arteta’s Beatriz at Dinner paints both humor in how irrationally and amorally the money-hungry, elite businessmen of the world conduct themselves, and horror in the understanding that a million men like them will continue to be apathetic monsters. As Salma Hayek’s clash with John Lithgow tells us (especially during the second-most despairing ending I saw at SIFF): the courage to act as in individual is so, so noble, but this monster stopped will only be replaced by another of the million. I loved it.

Hello Destroyer

Director: Kevan Funk

My favorite subject in film is that of toxic masculinity, a trait that has permeated male culture and bred the worst, most apathetic members of our population. Kevan Funk must think so too, because his film, Hello Destroyer, shames the men who allow toxic masculinity to thrive. His story of a young hockey player shamed for hurting an opponent, despite being begged to, is a quiet poem with practically nothing on its soundscape yet everything to say. Communities don’t take responsibility for the people they ruin. I’m upset about that—so is Kevan Funk. What’s the first-most despairing ending I saw at SIFF? Watch Hello Destroyer to find out.

City of Ghosts

Director: Matthew Heineman

From its director, Matthew Heineman, to each member of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (a group of citizens from the ISIS-claimed city of Raqqa, who fight ISIS with their cameras, their words, and the media), there may not be a greater cinematic display of bravery in 2017 than City of Ghosts. For 90 minutes, we watch the men of RBSS struggle to escape the physical and psychological reaches of ISIS, as well as the guilt they tragically carry while hiding outside of Raqqa. Bravo, Matthew Heineman, and bravo to RBSS.


About Author

Brandon is attached to all forms of media, whether TV-related or social, but loves film the most. He strives to watch as much as possible, whenever possible.