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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

SIFF 2014 opening was a grand movie party

Above photo: McCaw Hall fills up for Thursday's SIFF 2014 opening-night Gala Screening.

Here's how painless it was to attend the opening-night movie of the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival.

First, we'd booked a room at the Hampton Suites, a hotel that sits something like a four-block walk to McCaw Hall, which is located in the Seattle Center and is home to both the Seattle Opera and Pacific Northwest Ballet. So it took me all of 10 minutes to get there.

When we arrived at 6:25 (for the 7 p.m. event), online-printed tickets in hand, we were ushered right up the stairs, given our orange bracelet (which included two drink tickets to the after-screening Gala Party) and into the theater. No waiting at all.

Other than the reserved center sections, we had our choice of seats. And with the help of a super-friendly usher, we opted for a pair of box seats on the second level that provided more leg room than you get Virgin Airlines business class (not that I've even flown Virgin, but you get my analogy).

And so there we sat, fully comfortable during the screening of "Jimi: All Is by My Side," which included some 45 minutes of pre-screening announcements, speeches and bouts of self-congratulation by SIFF officials. We also stuck around for the post-screening interview of writer-director John Ridley and movie co-star Hayley Atwell.

From there, we trooped next door to the Gala Party — where, as usual, we got lost in the crowd, were able to score a couple of drinks, got turned off by the looooonnnnngggg lines at the food table and, after about 20 minutes, took off to meet up with our friend Leslie Kelly and find something substantial to eat.

All in all, it was a good evening, though. And I offer all this as a preview of what you might be able to enjoy during the coming weekends through June 8. SIFF is well worth checking out. Click here for ticket-buying info.

And enjoy.