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The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) announced recently that it has purchased the SIFF Cinema at the Uptown in Seattle, Washington and has signed a lease for the Egyptian Theatre, securing their use for the festival and year-round use by the organization.
The full press release appears below.
SIFF SECURES UPTOWN AND EGYPTIAN THEATRES
New Chapter in SIFF's History
SEATTLE -- May 15, 2014 -- This evening, at the Opening Night Gala in McCaw Hall, the Seattle International Film Festival announced that it has purchased the SIFF Cinema Uptown (with the "Angels of the Uptown") and has also signed a lease for the Egyptian Theatre, (thank you, Seattle Central Community College) securing these two neighborhood landmarks as year-round SIFF Cinema and Festival venues. Managing Director Mary Bacarella and Artistic Director Carl Spence took to the stage to make the announcement, which signals a tremendous future of growth for the organization that's now celebrating its 40th anniversary.
SIFF Cinema Uptown
In October 2011, SIFF saw a need in the community and took action. The Uptown Theatre in lower Queen Anne - which opened as a silent movie house in 1926 - had been shuttered since winter 2010. SIFF set out to secure the lease and revitalize it - renaming it SIFF Cinema Uptown.
After re-opening the theatre with a special premiere screening of Michel Hazanavicius's Best Picture Oscar winner and modern silent film, The Artist, SIFF has been successful in its efforts to program it 365 days a year, relying on the organization's long and demonstrable track record of engaging a diverse community through film.
Seeking to secure its place in the community even further, SIFF searched for a way to purchase the building for good. Enter the "Angels of the Uptown," David and Linda Cornfield, true philanthropists and community supporters.
The Cornfields both stated, "SIFF affords an invaluable opportunity to experience great stories and see incredible cinematography from around the world. We were thrilled to help ensure the vibrancy of this neighborhood gem - which we also call home - for years to come."
Seattle-based real estate development firm Point32 (who also helped develop the Bullitt Center, "The World's Greenest Office Building"), was also a valuable partner brought in to negotiate the transaction and secure the building for 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. In the two and a half years since SIFF re-opened the Uptown Theatre, it has brought over 500,000 people to the area.
It has become essential to the Festival, independent film exhibition, other Seattle-based film festivals, and community & arts organizations. With the help of David and Linda Cornfield and Point32, SIFF is making a promise that our community will have a place to gather and experience film, art, and stories that engage and inspire for years to come.
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
The Egyptian Theatre has been an important part of the Seattle International Film Festival since its inception. Originally built as Masonic Temple in 1915, the building's auditorium was converted into an Egyptian-themed art house cinema by SIFF in 1980. SIFF sold the lease to Landmark Theatres in 1989 in order to fund the organization's transition to a non-profit arts organization and has rented the venue for the Seattle International Film Festival every year since. In 2013, the doors closed on one of the major focal points for cinema in Seattle. Upon learning the news of the Egyptian's pending closure, SIFF made a bid on the space to ensure that it would be available for use during future festivals.
SIFF has been working closely and planning with Seattle Central Community College - the theater's owner - to ensure that the Egyptian remains an important gathering place for the Capitol Hill community, the student community, and all of Seattle in general. Both organizations believe that this historic and beloved entity should remain front and center as a film, arts, and education icon. SIFF and Seattle Central Community College officially signed a lease in May. SIFF truly appreciates all that Seattle Central has done to make this happen.
"It's important for Seattle Central to maintain the cultural value of the Egyptian Theatre for the benefit of the residents of Capitol Hill and the city of Seattle. We look forward to being a partner with SIFF for many years to come," said Paul Killpatrick, Ph.D., president of Seattle Central.
But the work is just beginning. Improvements to the Egyptian and growth to the organization are now in order, and SIFF has launched a fundraising campaign to take the venue to the next level and ensure its long-term viability. One anonymous donor has already extended a $150,000 match offer. Along with donor outreach, the organization has also created a "Text To Give" campaign ("Text 'SIFF' to 501501 To Donate $10"). Starting on Opening Night of the 2014 Seattle International Festival, SIFF will be reaching out for support for this undertaking.
Says Carl Spence, SIFF's Artistic Director, "The opportunity to secure the future of both the Uptown and the Egyptian theatres at the same time fulfills our hopes beyond all expectations. Collectively, these two venues have been showcasing essential and award-winning cinema for more than 100 years. The films presented have been more than just entertainment; they've been a chance to see the world from a different perspective with the possibility to transform our collective consciousness. We look forward to continuing their legacy of showing extraordinary films from around the world 365 days a year."
Mary Bacarella, SIFF's Managing Director stated, "We could not have secured our home at the Uptown without the tremendous support of the Cornfields. Their desire to make this happen, along with their love of SIFF and our community, means that the SIFF Cinema Uptown can bring the thrilling experience of cinema to audiences for generations to come. Also, preserving the Egyptian Theatre and adding it to the SIFF roster means another investment in our community, a home for other smaller film festivals and other arts organizations, and an additional, vibrant home for cinema in the city."
SIFF's programming during both Festival and year-round focuses on premiere theatrical engagements, repertory, classic, and revival films from all over the world. Many of these programs would never be seen in Seattle if not for SIFF.
Founded in 1976, SIFF creates experiences that bring people together to discover extraordinary films from around the world with the Seattle International Film Festival, SIFF Cinema, and SIFF Education. Recognized as one of the top film festivals in North America, the Seattle International Film Festival is the largest, most highly attended film festival in the United States, reaching more than 150,000 annually. The 25-day festival is renowned for its wide-ranging and eclectic programming, presenting over 450 features, short films, and documentaries from over 70 countries each year. SIFF Cinema exhibits premiere theatrical engagements, repertory, classic, and revival film showings 365 days a year on four screens at the SIFF Film Center and the historic SIFF Cinema Uptown, reaching more than 120,000 attendees annually. SIFF Education offers educational programs for all audiences serving more than 13,000 students and youth in the community with free programs each year.
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