The First Grader will open the 37th Seattle International Film Festival on May 19 and Ewan McGregor will receive the 2011 Golden Space Needle Award for Outstanding Achievement in Acting.

Announcing a roster of 441 films of which 257 are features, artistic director Carl Spence said the line-up was the festival’s biggest to date, “highlighting the best in cinema from around the world.”

Among the gala screenings are the centerpiece screening of Philippe Le Gauy’s comedy Service Entrance and the closing night screening of Life In A Day (pictured), directed by Kevin Macdonald. The First Grader is directed by Justin Chadwick.

Apart from McGregor, there will be tribute to action sports film legend Warren Miller, who receives the Golden Space Needle for Lifetime Achievement, and a one-night-only event with Al Pacino.

World Premieres include A Lot Like You (US), Lys (Germany) and The Darkest Matter (US), while North American premieres include Killing Bono (UK), Yellow Sea (South Korea), Above Us Only Sky (Germany), Absent (Argentina), Angel Of Evil (Italy), Backyard (Iceland) and Spud (South Africa).

In a new sidebar the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences will present Asian Crossroads spotlighting 13 films such as Saigon Electric (Vietnam), The Bengali Detective (India), Eternity (Thailand) and Flying Fish (Sri Lanka).

Competition strands include New Directors, documentary and FIPRESCI for the New American Cinema section and the Golden Space Needle Awards presented for best film, best documentary, best director, best actor, best short film.

The festival is scheduled to run from May 19-Jun 12. For full programme details visit the official website.