film festival tourism


The Seattle International Film Festival

Festival Website:

Timing: Four weeks at the end of May/beginning of June.

Dates for 2009: Mary 22-June 15


A judicious selection consisting of new international and American indie films from the festival circuit along with a generous menu of revivals.

Special Guests: Though it can’t compete with high-profile festivals like Toronto and Sundance, Seattle attracts a goodly number of celebrities and important filmmakers every year.

Line outside of the Egyptian Theater during the 2008 festival

Audience: A large local cadre of film enthusiasts.

Screening Venues:

The festival uses six theaters located all over the city. Some are showing their age, but all are comfortable.

Screening Schedule

Films start in the late afternoon on weekdays and continue into the night, capped off by midnight screenings.


Tickets are easily purchased online at $10 and up. Various packages and passes are also available.

2006 Program Book

Program Notes

The program book provides full discussions of all films including director filmographies and prizes won in past fests.


A modern, prosperous coastal city, Seattle abounds with scenic vistas. Its benign climate encourages sightseeing.


In 2006 I stayed at the Silver Cloud Hotel Broadway, a pleasant 3½ star hostelry next to the verdant campus of Seattle University and an easy walk to three of the festival venues: the Egyptian Theater, the Broadway Performance Hall and the Northwest Film Forum.

Silver Cloud Hotel Broadway, 1100 Broadway Seattle, WA  98122, (800) 590.1801, (206) 325.1400

Getting Around

If you choose your hotel and theaters judiciously, you can walk to everything.

Mood Movies: Films set in Seattle you might want to watch before you go.

  • Little Buddha. Bernardo Bertolucci’s eccentric portrait of Buddhism, released in 1993, is partly set in Seattle; see it for Vittorio Storaro’s luminous images, which show the city off to great effect.
  • The Fabulous Baker Boys. A guilty pleasure for many film buffs. Steve Kloves’s 1989 romantic melodrama may not present Seattle at its best, but the on-screen chemistry between laid-back Jeff Bridges and tart-tongued Michelle Pfeiffer is not to be missed.
  • Singles. Cameron Crowe’s 1992 breakthrough film is to my mind, still his best effort; and he makes good use of the story’s Seattle setting to create a distinctive urban ambience.



Best Film I Saw:The Road to Guantánamo. Michael Winterbottom’s eye-opening documentary/docudrama hybrid centers on four British Muslim boys caught up willy-nilly in the Afghanistan war and held for years in the US controlled netherworld at Guantánamo Bay.

Best Round Table Discussion: “Screenwriters’ Salon: How to Tell a Great Story on Film.” Writers, it seems, can put on quite a show.

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