There are few things in the life of a cinephile more exciting than opening night of a film festival. Okay, it's not world peace, maybe, or birth of a child, but on the scale of coolness and sheer energy, Opening Night is way up there. Last night was the Opening Night of the 32nd Annual Seattle International Film Festival -- the largest film fest in the United States, according to the festival staff who kicked things off. 400-plus films, shown over 25 days, to more filmgoers than anywhere else in the US. Why? Well, because we really love our movies here. That, and it rains a lot here.
Opening Night, showcasing Neil Burger's darkly magical fairy tale The Illusionist, was held at The Paramount, an historic "movie palace" complete with balconies, lots of gold overlay, and sparkly chandeliers. The theater was packed with the usual eclectic Seattle blend of party people: film geeks, college students, yuppie couples all dressed up for a night on the town, and, of course, the passholes. This is Seattle, not Cannes, so formal wear is not required (heck, we might even laugh at you), but a few people show up dressed to the nines anyhow. Most of the crowd was "Seattle-dressy" - meaning you wear your nice blue jeans (the $500 ones with the holes artfully placed in just the right places), and add on a dressy top, jewelry, and non-Birkenstock footwear to gussy it up.