With forty years under its belt, the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) can safely be described as one of the mainstays of the world film festival slate.
If not quite at the level of Cannes or Sundance in terms of marquee movie events, it is still one of the very big hitters and over the decades has developed a massive profile with its inclusive, diverse slate and the length of the festival itself: its most recent edition lasted three and a half weeks, making it one of the longest fests in the world. This means SIFF can include a huge amount of films from varying genres, and screen a raft of independent features, documentaries and foreign films that may be overlooked by other festivals.
Founded in 1976, the Seattle International Film Festival’s mission was simple: to create experiences that bring people together to discover extraordinary films from around the world. This mantra, of fostering a community bound together by a love of film, has earned SIFF the reputation of being a true ‘audience festival’ rather than an industry event, leading to it becoming the largest and most highly-attended fest in the United States yet maintaining an intimate, film buff-friendly atmosphere. The last couple of years have seen more than 150,000 attendees over the 25-day program and led to trade bible Variety to describe SIFF as ‘unmissable’.
Such is the high profile nature of SIFF that it has attracted countless industry names and critically-acclaimed directors and actors to its various editions, including Francis Ford Coppola, Ang Lee and Anthony Hopkins, while Donnie Darko, Trainspotting and Ridley Scott’s classic Alien all had their world or American premieres at the festival. 2014 saw 452 films representing 83 countries, including 44 world premieres, of which Richard Linklater’s lauded Boyhood went home with the Golden Space Needle Award for Best Film.
One of SIFF’s most unique and increasingly-popular events is the ‘festival-within-a festival’ of the Secret Festival sidebar, where a select group can attend four screenings of coming-soon, unreleased, private collection, and exceedingly rare films — with the proviso that they swear an oath that they will not discuss what they have seen before or after the event. Add to this a year-round program of public screenings, workshops and youth events and SIFF continues to evolve as an innovative, eclectic and community-focused major event in Seattle’s cultural calendar.
The 41st edition of the Seattle International Film Festival runs from May 14th to June 7th, 2015 at several venues across the city, including the iconic Egyptian Theatre, SIFF Cinema Uptown and the state of the art SIFF Film Centre.