SIFF opens with the latest from 'Avengers' director

The 39th Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) begins May 16 with a star-studded opening night gala that's delighting fans of cult TV shows like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Firefly" as well as last year's blockbuster "The Avengers."

The festival kicks off with a showing of beloved director, writer and producer Joss Whedon's adaptation of Shakespeare's classic "Much Ado About Nothing," but the bulk of the ado this week is that Whedon himself will be there, alongside the film's stars Nathan Fillion, Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker and Clark Gregg.

Whedon worked on the film with his wife Kai Cole after principal photography for "The Avengers" wrapped. Then, during lunch breaks and on the weekends, Whedon and assistant Daniel Kaminsky, edited the film on a laptop. Whedon is also the film's cinematic composer.

The festival's organizers are predicting a sizable turnout, both because of Whedon's star power and the film's positive reviews.

SIFF Artistic and Co-Director Carl Spence called it "the perfect film to open the 2013 festival," noting that "the mash-up of Shakespeare with Joss Whedon's creativity in storytelling contemporizes the source material, infusing it with modern-day antics and making the original text refreshingly funny and accessible."

SIFF is a 25-day festival that boasts eclectic programming; each year, over 250 features and 150 short films from over 70 countries are shown as part of the festival.

The opening night gala will feature both the showing of the film at McCaw Hall, as well as the annual opening night gala at the Center's Exhibition Hall. Tickets are available online at SIFF's website, or by calling the SIFF Box Office at 206-324-9996.