The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF), held annually in Seattle, Washington since 1976, is among the top film festivals in North America. Audiences have grown steadily; the 2006 festival had 160,000 attendees. In recent years, the SIFF has run for more than three weeks (24 days), in May/June, and features a diverse assortment of predominantly independent and foreign films and, in recent years, a strong contingent of documentaries.
SIFF 2006 included 300+ films and was the first SIFF to include a venue in neighboring Bellevue, Washington, after an ill-fated early attempt. However, in 2008, the festival was back to being entirely in Seattle, and had a slight decrease in the number of feature films. The 2010 festival featured over 400 films, shown primarily in downtown Seattle and its nearby neighborhoods, but also in West Seattle, Everett, Kirkland, and Juanita Beach Park.
The festival began in 1976 at a then-independent cinema, the Moore Egyptian Theater, now back under its earlier name as the Moore Theater and functioning as a concert venue. When founders Dan Ireland and Darryl Macdonald of the Moore Egyptian lost their lease, they founded the Egyptian theater in a former Masonic Temple on Seattle's Capitol Hill. The Egyptian theater remains a prime festival venue to this day, although the festival now typically uses about half a dozen cinemas (including, since 2007, its own SIFF Cinema at Seattle Center), with the exact roster varying from year to year.
During the 1980s, SIFF audiences developed a reputation for appreciating films that did not fit standard industry niches, such as Richard Rush's multi-layered The Stunt Man (1980). SIFF was instrumental in the entry of Dutch films into the United States market, including the first major American success for director Paul Verhoeven.
The nature of the festival
The festival includes a component that is unique among major film festivals: a four-film "Secret Festival". Those who attend the Secret Festival do not know in advance what they will see, and they must sign an oath that they will not reveal afterwards what they have seen.
In general, SIFF has a reputation as an "audience festival" rather than an "industry festival". The festival often partially overlaps the Cannes Film Festival, which can reduce attendance by industry bigwigs; in 2007 there were two days of overlap, May 24 and 25.
The SIFF group also curates the Global Lens film series, the Screenwriters Salon, and Futurewave (K-12 programming and youth outreach), coordinates SIFF-A-Go-Go travel programs (organized tours to other film festivals), and co-curates the 1 Reel Film Feastival at Bumbershoot and the Sci-Fi Shorts Film Festival at the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame.
In 2006, Longhouse Media launched the SuperFly Filmmaking Experience, in partnership with the Seattle International Film Festival, which brings youth together from diverse backgrounds to work collaboratively on film projects that promote awareness of indigenous issues and mutual understanding of each other's cultures. Fifty youth from across the United States arrive in Seattle to then travel to a local Pacific Northwest reservation to create 4 films in 36 hours.
November 28, 2006, SIFF and Seattle mayor Greg Nickels announced that SIFF will soon have a home and a year-round screening facility in what has been the Nesholm Family Lecture Hall of McCaw Hall, the same building at Seattle Center that houses the Seattle Opera. The city contributed $150,000 to the $350,000 project. This auditorium was a "flagship venue" for SIFF festivals and the site of most press screenings.
Shortly after the 2011 festival, SIFF moved its operations to the SIFF Film Center on the Seattle Center campus. The Film Center includes a 90 seat multi-use theater, multi-media classroom, exhibition spaces, archives, and offices for SIFF and the Film School. In October 2011, SIFF Cinema moved from McCaw Hall to its current location in the Uptown Theater. SIFF utilizes all three of the Uptown's three screens for year round programming. SIFF currently has year round programming for four screens in Seattle.
In May 2014 it was announced that SIFF had purchased the Uptown Theater, and would be leasing and renovating the Egyptian Theater (abandoned roughly a year earlier by Landmark Theatres) from Seattle Central College.
Since 1985, the Seattle International Film Festival has awarded the Golden Space Needle award each year to the festival's most popular movie. Ballots are cast by audience members at the end of each movie. Previous winners of the Golden Space Needle include Whale Rider for 2003, Trainspotting for 1996 and Kiss of the Spider Woman for 1985.
Golden Space Needle (Best Film) and SIFF Awards for Best Short and Documentary
SIFF Awards for Best Director, Actress and Actor
Among the films that have received North American or world premieres at SIFF are:
- Alien â" Ridley Scott (1979, World premiere)
- Arafat, My Brother â" Rashid Masharawi (2005, North American premiere)
- Banlieue 13 â" Pierre Morel (2005, North American premiere)
- Burning in the Wind â" Silvio Soldoni (2003, World premiere)
- Creature â" Parris Patton (1999, World premiere)
- Ghost World - Terry Zwigoff (2001, World premiere)
- I Murder Seriously â" Antonio Urrutia (2003, North American premiere)
- Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean â" Matthew Mishory (2012, World premiere)
- Last Days â" Gus Van Sant (2005, North American premiere)
- Mars â" Anna Melikian (2005, North American premiere)
- Mongolian Ping Pong â" Ning Hao (2005, North American premiere)
- Monster House â" Gil Kenan (2006, North American premiere)
- Nate Dogg â" Thomas Farone (2003, World premiere)
- PTU â" Johnny To (2003, North American premiere)
- Tomorrow's Weather â" Jerzy Stuhr (2003, North American premiere)
Gala Event Films
- List of film awards
- ^ a b c "SIFF to Create New Home for Great Films at Seattle Center". www.siff.net (press release). November 28, 2006.Â
- ^ "Venues". www.siff.net. Archived from the original on 2010-06-20.Â
- ^ Lynn Jacobson, Locals swarm huge Seattle fest. Variety, Jun. 19, 2005
- ^ "ORA: SIFF Film Center". Retrieved June 2, 2014.Â
- ^ Paul Constant, SIFF To Renovate and Reopen the Egyptian Theatre, slog.thestranger.com (blog of Seattle alternative weekly The Stranger, 2014-05-15.) Accessed online 2014-05-17.
- ^ a b c d Reel News (SIFF), Autumn 2007, p. 5.
- ^ 1979 SIFF program (guide/booklet) states this is the World Premiere of Alien
- ^ a b c d e News in 2005, SIFF. Accessed 23 November 2006.
- ^ Burning in the Wind, SIFF, Accessed 23 November 2006.
- ^ Hunter, David (January 14, 2000). "'Creature'.". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 22 August 2014.Â
- ^ a b c Press release, SIFF. Accessed 23 November 2006.
- ^ , SIFF, Accessed 29 April 2012.
- ^ 
- ^ Tomorrow's Weather, SIFF, Accessed 23 November 2006.
- Official website
- Official SIFF Flickr Page
- SIFF celebrates 30 years of movies (2006)