What does SIFF say about Seattle?

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Jonathan Marlow has written an interesting (though not altogether shocking or revolutionary – at least for someone who has worked in small-scale film distribution for a couple years) article about the festival circuit and it’s effect on the traditional comprehensive theatrical run of films that get “picked up.”

He also adds this little jab at SIFF:

Whether you’re a filmmaker or a filmgoer, I’ll let you in on a little secret that might guide you. The enjoyment to be found at a film festival is generally counter-proportional to the number of films in the event….[there’s quite a bit more I’m skipping here; you should read the full article to fill it in] The exception that proves the rule here is the Seattle International Film Festival. SIFF is merely so damn extensive and exhaustive that several dozen good (and occasionally a few great) films are bound to slip through. It also says something about the monoculture of Seattle that a three-and-a-half week/roughly 300-film festival could even work.

So after spending your weekend seeing – 2? 5? 8? – films at SIFF, do you agree? Are there just too many movies at SIFF (despite the slimming down of this year’s fest) to guarantee quality and satisfy risk-taking? Is it just a film-goer’s event, with no room for business networking or community building? What does the festival say about Seattle film culture – and overall culture?

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2 Responses to “What does SIFF say about Seattle?”

  1. thebaxter Says:

    I think it says that SIFF is more about bringing industry types to Seattle than it is about local film and local people. The only way a person can make a decent go of seeing all quality films at SIFF is if they take the week off or go to these things for work.

  2. Alex Says:

    SIFF is like eating a chocolate cake. The first few bites are wonderful…but by the time you finish, you’re gonna feel a little sick. With so many works being shown in the festival, quality can’t be guaranteed. Unless you’re lucky or super intuitive, you’ll probably have to sit through several dozen films in order to catch two or three that are truly amazing. The upside of SIFF’s size is that it’s kinda exciting as a movie marathon (I like chocolate cake) and there’s likely something(s) for everyone (and this year I managed to avoid all but 2 or 3 that I wish I’d never even laid eyes on). The downside is that with so many films, each only gets screened twice within a two or three day period, so the ones with positive buzz are almost always long gone by the time the good word begins to get around.

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