Film lovers in the area are in the midst of the 39th annual Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). Over the course of 25 days ending June 9, an estimated 150,000 people will attend screenings of films. SIFF says this makes it the longest and most-attended film festival in the United States.

The festival kicked off May 16 with a screening of Much Ado About Nothing by director Joss Whedon, who was flown in along with members of the cast to discuss the movie with the audience.

SIFF features films from around the world, but an important role of the festival is providing a big stage for local talent.

Leah Warshawski from West Seattle is debuting her first feature film, Finding Hillywood, about how Rwanda s burgeoning film industry is helping heal the war-torn country.

While it was filmed in Africa, Warshawski used a nearly all-local crew to produce the film, including her husband, Todd Soliday, who handled sound and post production.

It was really important to us to try and give back to the community and hire as many local resources as we could, said Warshawski. Our composer doesn t live in Seattle, but other than that, it was pretty much a Seattle production even though we were filming on the other side of the world.

You can watch the world premiere of Finding Hillywood at SIFF on May 29.

Related links:

Seattle International Film Festival

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