The Seattle International Film Festival is turning 40 this year and they’re already gearing up for this year’s festival which runs May 15 through June 8, 2014. The biggest/longest/hardest film festival in the country will kick things off with their huge opening night gala, on Thursday, May 15 at McCaw Hall with a new film with some local (Seattle) subject matter…
Jimi: All Is By My Side A is a new film from writer/director John Ridley, probably best known for his Academy Award winning screenplay for last year’s acclaimed film, 12 Years A Slave. This new film is also a labor of love for Mr. Ridley as it examines the life of Seattle raised rock ‘n’ roll icon, Jimi Hedrix. Starring actor/musician/style icon André Benjamin as Jimi, the film examines a very specific time in the icon’s life, when he was living in London and features a largely British cast, although for tax reasons, the film was actually filmed in Ireland.
The sad news to report is that the Hendrix Estate refused to cooperate with the filmmakers and would not license any Hendrix penned songs for the film. Mr. Benjamin will only be singing covers made famous by Jimi, including The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” plus such famous songs as “Wild Thing” and “Hound Dog”.
Director John Ridley is scheduled to attend the gala. No word if any actors will be present. Also no word if any of Hendrix’s family will attend. The star is buried in Greenwood Memorial Park in Renton.
From SIFF’s press release:
It’s 1966 and James Hendrix is an unknown backup guitarist in New York City. One night, Linda Keith (rising British talent Imogen Poots) – girlfriend to Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards – happens to catch a set he’s playing and, mesmerized by his skills, brings Hendrix into her inner circle in London. There, Hendrix has the freedom to develop his craft and personal style. Before long, however, he finds himself caught between Linda’s protective grasp and the charms of a new admirer (Hayley Atwell, Captain America). With these two women by his side, Jimi, as he is now known, navigates the London music scene and begins to make his mark in the world of rock ‘n’ roll – the rest is history.
Ridley, who also wrote and executive produced the film, has crafted a daring, wholly original interpretation of an artist’s origins, perfectly blending his story with archival footage of the era. Benjamin’s magnetic, nuanced performance is the beating heart of Jimi: All Is By My Side; he brilliantly distills the essence of Hendrix before Hendrix. The result is an intimate portrait of the early, momentous years in the life of the legendary guitarist.
The film will be released in theaters this summer by XLrator Media with Open Road Films.
Tickets for the Opening Night Gala at McCaw Hall are available at the SIFF website or by calling the SIFF box office at 206.324.9996.
SIFF also released the trailer for this year’s festival. Check it out. More info on the 40th festival line-up to be released next week including their extensive list of LGBTQ films. (SIFF usually features at least 20 films a festival with total or partial queer content/creators.) The box office will open May 1.