SIFF buys Uptown Theatre, becomes permanent Queen Anne resident

SIFF Uptown signThe Seattle International Film Festival has purchased the SIFF Cinema Uptown, becoming a permanent resident of Lower Queen Anne/Uptown. SIFF announced the purchase, with funding from its “Angels of the Uptown,” David and Linda Cornfield, at the 40th Seattle International Film Festival.

SIFF has leased the Uptown Theatre, built in 1926, for the past two and a half years. Since opening night, SIFF has been a key fixture in Lower Queen Anne – and it’s drawn new customers to neighboring businesses. SIFF estimates it has brought over 500,000 people to the area, exposing them to both new cinematic experiences and the neighborhood.

According to SIFF:

“The SIFF Cinema Uptown has now become the heart of lower Queen Anne. The theatre bolsters many lower Queen Anne businesses by raising the profile of the area and bringing in new audiences to experience what local businesses have to offer.”

The cinema has become a fixture on Queen Anne Ave N, and will remain so for years to come, hosting film festivals, arts programs, and regular movie screenings for both residents and visitors to the neighborhood.

Do the chicken dance at SIFF’s Arrested Development tribute this Saturday

Are you an Arrested Development fan? Do you find yourself quoting memorable lines? Yelling out “Steve Holt” or doing the chicken dance? Well, join your fellow fans at the SIFF Film Center this Saturday to celebrate all things Bluth for a special 4-episode screening at SIFF’s Arrested Development: Celebrating TVs Funniest Comedy.

Photo courtesy of SIFF

The SIFF FutureWave Committee will be hosting the event, which will include 4 of their favorite episodes (which ones? show up to find out…) plus trivia, a chicken dance contest, and prizes!

The special celebration will benefit the SIFF FutureWave Committee, and a $5 donation is suggested. FutureWave works with schools and community organizations to provide kids with digital cinematic skills, offering opportunities for students and educators to connect with SIFF and the local filmmaking community. A great cause and a fun event!

If you’re missing Arrested Development, new episodes will be available on Netflix in May – but in the meantime, celebrate Bluth camaraderie at Saturday’s SIFF event. And remember, there’s always money in the banana stand…

Happy Valentine’s day – celebrate with Harold and Maude at SIFF

Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude… romance, dark comedy, uplifting sentiments, and a Cat Stevens soundtrack – a perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day!

At the special SIFF Valentine’s Day showing, there will be tragic-romantic candy hearts and prizes for the couples with the biggest age gap. And well if you want to sing out, sing out, there’s a pre-show Cat Stevens sing along.

SIFF celebrates those passed over at the Oscar Snubs Movie Marathon

In two weeks, the Oscars will be broadcast live, and if you’re a movie fan you’ll likely be frustrated with the Academy voters for at least one of the nominees. In the past, the Oscar for best picture didn’t go to Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” (a travesty) and William H. Macy lost Best Actor for “Fargo” to Cuba Gooding Jr. (star of “Snow Dogs”) – but, SIFF recognizes the greatness of these movies and more, and you can spend next Sunday commiserating and celebrating with other film buffs at SIFF’s Oscar Snubs Movie Marathon at SIFF Uptown.

SIFF’s 12-hour marathon showcases six films that the Academy passed over, plus food, drink, and fun! On tap are meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) from Portage Bay Café and Eltana Wood-Fired Bagels, a mid-marathon happy hour, bottomless popcorn, and brews from Ninkasi Brewing. The event is a special fundraiser with all proceeds benefitting SIFF, so they can continue to bring us great films and special events throughout the year.

The film roster is as follows:

A Star is Born, 1954 – Judy Garland’s fierce performance in George Cukor’s remake was overlooked for the Best Actress award in favor of another legendary actress, Grace Kelly, who won for her role in The Country Girl.

Fargo, 1996 – the Best Supporting Actor award was truly botched, overlooking William H. Macy’s tragic performance as misguided Jerry Lundegaard, in favor of Cuba Gooding Jr.’s catch-phrase spouting role in Jerry Maguire.

The Thin Man, 1934 – Nominated for Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Writer, this inebriated mystery-comedy classic went home empty handed.

Do the Right Thing, 1989 – One of the most controversial films of 1989, and one that made director Spike Lee a force to be reckoned with, Do The Right Thing may have been a bit too in-your-face for Academy voters, who instead chose to showcase the film’s polar opposite: Driving Miss Daisy.

Blazing Saddles, 1974 – Many hoped Madeline Khan would break the Academy’s comedy curse after she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress but she lost to Ingrid Bergman, more for legacy than performance, in Murder on the Orient Express.

Secret Snub! – SIFF isn’t divulging this title yet, but they’ve provided a hint: it features one of history’s best-selling soundtrack albums, yet Academy voters didn’t find it worthy of a single Best Song nomination, much less a win.

“Not everyone can always be a winner and with our Oscar Snubs marathon event we salute those films that belong alongside those that actually received a golden statue. Extraordinary, unforgettable and masterful film works that stand the test of time.” – SIFF Artistic Director, Carl Spence

“Oscar winners have been and will always be celebrated, but what about those deserving films, actors and crew members not lucky enough to take home the gold? This year, SIFF’s annual movie marathon examines the history of the Academy Awards, and celebrate some of the famously snubbed films and performances. After all, upsets are often just as – if not more – exciting to discuss than the winners!”  – SIFF programmer, Clinton McClung

Heads up, film buffs – make your plans to spend next Sunday at SIFF, with great movies, food, drink, and fun!

SIFF’s Women in Cinema Festival Kicks Off This Wednesday

SIFF’s Women in Cinema (WIC) festival kicks off this Wednesday at SIFF Uptown, celebrating films from women directors around the world.

Wednesday’s Opening Night features Hannah Arendt, followed by a reception at SAM’s Taste restaurant (note: limited tickets for Taste reception). The festival runs through Sunday, January 27th, featuring a selection of the best new films from women directors. Films will be shown at SIFF Uptown, and a free panel discussion entitled “Beyond the Director” will be held at SIFF Film Center on Saturday. (reserve tickets in advance)

The festival highlight’s SIFF’s “interest in the exceptional contribution of women in the world of cinema” and has curated a range of films for this year’s festival, from documentaries to shorts to feature films, including:

  • Hannah Arendt – Opening Night film
  • The Dandelions
  • Ginger & Rosa
  • Lore
  • Love, Marilyn
  • Midnight’s Children
  • Satellite Boy – director Catriona McKenzie in attendance
  • Vanishing Waves
  • The World Before Her – Skype Q&A with director Nishna Pahuja and President of Friends of the United Nations Population Fund Valerie DeFillipo on Saturday
  • WIC Shorts – a collection of films from women short filmmakers from around the world

SIFF’s official Women in Cinema trailer:

SIFF Uptown Hosts Free Neighborhood Celebration and Awards for “A Story Runs Through It”

As part of the Seattle Center’s Next 50 Civic Action Month, local residents both young and old submitted short films about Seattle neighborhoods for a competition being held this Wednesday, October 17 at the SIFF Uptown. The awards ceremony is free and begins at 7pm.

“A Story Runs Through It: Neighborhood Film Celebration and Awards” features short films (3 minutes or less) that tell stories about Seattle and its neighborhoods from the viewpoint of residents. Filmmakers could showcase any part of Seattle, regardless of which neighborhood they call home.There are 3 categories: Youth Filmmaker, Adult Filmmaker, and additional submissions not up for awards.

All film submissions to “A Story Runs Through It” are available in their entirety online. Awards will be presented for Youth Filmmaker, Adult Filmmaker, Civic Relevance, and Special Recognition.

Courtesy: “Love, Seattle” Megan Leonard, Peter Edlund & Rachel Klein

There’s a wide range of films and neighborhoods highlighted in the submissions – if you’re looking for Queen Anne specific films, check out Mike Clarke’s “Next 50 Project” and for a showcase of Seattle images, including some Queen Anne icons, check out “Love, Seattle”. And, root for your favorite on Wednesday night!

SIFF to reopen Uptown Theater October 20

The Seattle International Film Festival announced Saturday that it will be revitalizing Lower Queen Anne’s historic Uptown Theater, which shuttered its doors back in November after its partent company AMC opted to close the old theater house rather than invest in updates.

SIFF plans to reopen the neighborhood theater in October, as it transitions out of its current location in McCaw Hall, in conjunction with the Grand Opening of its own new SIFF Film Center at Seattle Center. SIFF says the new space will provide the organization with increased seating capacity and three additional screens, which will allow it more flexibility for year-round programming.

When the Uptown Theater closed last fall, many in the community were heartbroken to see the longstanding neighborhood cinema house, originally opened in 1926, fall by the wayside. We reached out to SIFF to see if the organization had any interest or intention of taking over the newly vacated space. At the time SIFF representatives told us they were not in a position to take over the theater.

“It really is unfortunate that Uptown theater is closing. I used to go there many times and even when I was growing up so personally it’s a shame that it is closing,” SIFF representative Tod Steward wrote to Queen Anne View back in November. “Maybe Paul Allen or someone like him would finance it to stay open…just like what he did with Cinerama.”

Fortunately for the Queen Anne community, the tides have changed since last fall. In addition to helping expand its year-round programming, SIFF says the reopening of the theater will give it the opportunity to establish first-class educational programs and solidify the future of the organizations and its programs.

Mayor Mike McGinn came out in support of the deal, stating, “SIFF is one of Seattle’s true treasures not only for the work they do in Film and Education, but for being a leader in our community and saving the Uptown Movie Theatre. The leadership that SIFF is demonstrating should not only be recognized but applauded.”

“On behalf of the Greater Queen Anne Chamber of Commerce, we are especially pleased to endorse the acquisition of the Uptown Theater by the Seattle International Film Festival,” Chamber vice president Ann Pearce said in a statement. “We applaud their actions in preserving a valuable part of Seattle’s Uptown neighborhood and creating more opportunities for Queen Anne community businesses. Another wonderful forum for unique entertainment will now be available for residents and tourists alike to enjoy for years to come!”

“We couldn’t have scripted a better opportunity for our organization than to have SIFF Cinema Uptown and the new SIFF Film Center in such close proximity and located in such a vibrant part of the city. Seattle Center and Queen Anne are the perfect locations for us to expand in and we’re excited to be opening our doors in time for Seattle Center’s ‘Next 50’ celebration next year,” SIFF Artistic Director Carl Spence said.

“We are thrilled to welcome SIFF as a new resident here, and we embrace its move to use the former Uptown Theater space as a SIFF screening venue. What a wonderful means to enlivening the neighborhood and further connecting Seattle Center to the Uptown area,” Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams said.

Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG challenge underway

Today is your chance to donate to Queen Anne charities and have your money go further.

The Seattle Foundation is hosting the “GiveBIG” challenge from 7 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. to support a long list of charities around town, a great many of which are based right here in Queen Anne, including the American Cancer Society – Great West Division, ArtsFund, Book-It Repertory Theatre, Forgotten Children’s Fund, Friends of KEXP, GreenStage, Hilltop Children’s Center, KCTS Television, Northwest Folklife, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pacific Science Center, Pottery Northwest, Queen Anne Helpline, Seattle Center Foundation, Seattle Children’s Home, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, SIFF, Susan G. Komen for the Cure Puget Sound Affiliate, Whim W’Him and more.

The money donated to charities through GiveBIG will be “stretched” by $500,000. Here is how the “stretch pool” and match works:

Credit card donations made during this time period will be counted as GiveBIG donations and used to calculate distribution of the stretch pool. The amount of a nonprofit organization’s share of the stretch pool will be based on the percentage of donations the nonprofit receives of the total online contributions made through on June 23. In other words, distribution of the stretch pool will be pro-rated. If X organization receives 1% of the donations through our site on GiveBIG, they will receive 1% of the stretch pool dollars.

Here is the long list of charities that are participating. There will also be a Golden Ticket given away every hour. Donors will be chosen at random to have more money donated to the charity they chose to support. Most tickets are worth $1,000 but the one-time extra special Golden Ticket is worth $5,000.

Seattle International Film Festival opens today

The 37th Seattle International Film Festival will host its Opening Night Gala at McCaw Hall Thursday at 5:30 p.m., beginning the 25-day film extravaganza.

Among the special events, spectacles and movie stars at this year’s festival, Ewan McGregor is set to receive the Golden Space Need Award for Outstanding Achievement in Acting May 22 at the Egyptian Theatre. The event will also feature a screening of his new film “Beginners,” a U.S. comedic drama by director Mike Mills.

Tickets for the Opening Night Gala can be bought here, which include screening of “The First Grader” and Gala party to follow. “The First Grader” is a UK film shot in Kenya by director Justin Chadwick, who previously directed “The Other Boleyn Girl,” about an 84-year-old Kenyan villager trying to get an education. General admission is $50 and includes two complementary drink tickets, while premium admission is $100 and includes open bar at the post-film reception and preferred entry into the Gala screening.

The Centerpiece Gala will be held June 4 and will feature the French film “Service Entrance,” a comedy about a Parisian stockbroker directed by Philippe Le Guay.

The festival concludes June 12 with the Closing Night Gala, featuring the UK documentary “Life in a Day,” a mosaic of thousands of individuals from around the globe in a single day by “The Last King of Scotland” director Kevin Macdonald.

This year the festival will feature 441 films, including 257 features and 184 short films, 96 of which will be premiered at SIFF, representing 74 countries, a record for SIFF.

Special to SIFF this year, the new “Pathway” system will be released aimed at assisting moviegoers in finding the kind of films they’re looking to experience. The SIFF website lists the ten Pathways as:

  • Love Me, Do! –  Romance and love in all its forms, pleasures, and idiosyncrasies.
  • Make Me Laugh – Films that make you chuckle and tickle your funny bone.
  • Thrill Me – Suspense, thrills, and action. Films with a faster pace that might also surprise you when you least expect it.
  • Creative Streak – The exploration of artistic endeavors from all disciplines: literature, film, art, dance, and performance.
  • Open My Eyes – Revealing films and documentaries revolving around history, politics, and contemporary events from around the world.
  • Sci-Fi and Beyond – Science, technology, environment, the future—and beyond.
  • Take Me Away – Be prepared to be taken to another place – from exotic far-off lands to vibrant experiences outside of everyday life.
  • Spellbinding Stories – Mesmerizing dramas and documentaries that explore thought-provoking questions, realities, and topics.
  • To the Extreme – Explore the outer limits with films that go beyond the edge.
  • Face the Music – Films that intersect the world of music on all fronts: from biopics and concert films, to musicals and live events.

Screenings for the films will take place at various venues throughout Seattle, Renton, Everett and Kirkland.

SIFF, the largest and most highly-attended film festival in the United States, will be opening the SIFF Film Center in the Alki Room at Seattle Center this coming fall, “fulfilling its long-standing vision of creating a permanent home where SIFF’s successful film, education, and community outreach programs can thrive,” the organization says on its website.

Find out more about what’s screening at the film festival this year here.

A sneak peek virtual tour of SIFF’s new Film Center

The Seattle International Film Festival is getting a brand new film center, designed by the folks over at Owen Richards Architects (who are also designing the new Chihuly Exhibition at Seattle Center).

Video courtesy of Owen Richards Architects.

The project, which broke ground in early December, will provide SIFF with the space to further its mission “to create experiences that allow us to discover extraordinary films together.” The new center will include a library, a 100-seat muti-use screening room and lecture hall, and “flex spaces”—a multi-media classroom, exhibition spaces, archives, and offices for SIFF and the Film School.

As the largest international film festival in the country, the space will further solidify SIFF’s place at Seattle Center, where it will move from McCaw Hall to the 11,000-square-foot Alki Room-turned Film Center on the Center grounds. From Owen Richards Architects:

The project transforms an existing 1962 World’s Fair pavilion overlooking Seattle Center’s central fountain plaza and reflects the Center’s commitment to introducing new media arts programming at the heart of the campus. In addition to serving as a year-round media arts education space, the theater is designed to be utilized as a presentation venue for Seattle Center cultural festivals, and will serve as the focus for SIFF’s screen-writers’s salon and education outreach programs. Sustainable design features include energy efficiency upgrades, natural ventilation and daylighting, adaptive reuse of an aging facility, and reuse of historic Cinerama theater seating.

Read more about the SIFF’s new Film Center.