SIFF Steams Forward, With New Headquarters Soon to Follow

Last month, artistic director Carl Spence and his SIFF crew sat down with me over coffee to discuss the upcoming festival, which begins Thurs., May 20 at Benaroya Hall. Spence sounded confident about increasing the number of venues—to include West Seattle, Kirkland, and even Everett—and number of titles in the 25-day fest (over 400). With the recession improving somewhat, said Spence, "We've surpassed our development goals. We're ahead of last year. In spite of the economy, we've actually expanded our footprint."Speaking of footprints, I asked about the planned $3 million SIFF Film Center, announced before last year's festival. With the city as landlord, SIFF was to refurbish the old Alki Room at Seattle Center into a grand, permanent facility including offices, library, classroom, and 100-seat screening room. (The festival is now a nomad in South Lake Union, shuttling between office space donated by Paul Allen's Vulcan, Inc.) Last year, SIFF Managing Director Deborah Person announced the "35 Club," for donors to contribute in increments reflecting the fest's 35th year (i.e., $35 or $350 and so forth). In April of 2009, Person told us that half the $3 million had been raised (or pledged, a crucial difference). Spence says SIFF hopes to start construction on the Alki Room makeover in September. "We'd move in 2011," he says. (never mind the somewhat misleading account reported Sunday in The Seattle Times). "Our permits are in place."

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