SEATTLE – The Seattle International Film Festival kicked off Thursday night with a critically-acclaimed film and a packed red carpet.

SIFF is the largest and most well-attended film festival in America - 400 movies in 25 days.

Heartfelt comedy The Big Sick was the opening night selection. Star Kumail Nanjiani co-wrote the movie with his wife Emily V. Gordon, and couldn’t wait to watch it inside McCaw Hall.

"I hear it's huge. It's like an opera theater, right?” he said. “I'm excited!”

Opening night was also a celebration of Seattle's vibrant creative community.

"I'm so happy to bring this film home,” said SJ Chiro, writer and director of Lane 1974. “We premiered in Austin at SXSW but to bring it here is so special and it just makes my heart explode."

The festival runs through June 11th and includes 36 world premieres, 161 feature films, 58 documentaries, and an array of shorts. The full schedule includes showtimes and locations.

"The arts matter. They matter to people,” said SIFF’s Beth Barrett. “Cultures matter. Recognizing differences and appreciating them matter. It all matters a lot."