Art House Expansion in Seattle

By eug | eugonline August 8, 2011 at 3:21AM

It's been quite a year for big city art house cinema, so far. Leading U.S. fests and film organizations are building out their infrastructures with enhanced year round programming, picking up on the work already being done by numerous film organizations all around the country.
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It's been quite a year for big city art house cinema, so far. Leading U.S. fests and film organizations are building out their infrastructures with enhanced year round programming, picking up on the work already being done by numerous film organizations all around the country.

In June, the Film Society of Lincoln Center opened its new Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, while next month the San Francisco Film Society is opening its new year round venue. Now, Seattle is unveiling even more ambitious expansion plans.

At the same time that SIFF opens its new one screen Film Center, Seattle will simultaneously expand to add three more theaters after taking over the nearby Uptown Theater, a recently shuttered historic theater that originally opened in 1926. They're branding it SIFF Cinema.

Friend Carl Spence, artistic director at SIFF, called me the other day to tip me off to the news ahead of today's announcement. (full press release after the jump)

At January's Art House Convergence Conference ahead of this year's Sundance Film Festival, I felt the growing momentum coming from the many art house oriented folks from around the country. See Michael Moore's Art House Declaration (signed by attendees at the conference).

Next year, when folks gather once again in January in Utah, there will be even more to discuss.

In my humble opinion, and as I told Carl on the phone the other day, this is a terrific moment for collaboration to bolster a growing movement that needs wide support to survive and thrive.

The SIFF Cinema press release follows.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SIFF Acquires Historic Seattle Theater to Compliment Soon-to-Open Film Center

Seattle, WA, August 7, 2011 - SIFF is excited to announce the acquisition of the historic Uptown Theater in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood. The historic neighborhood theater will re-open to the public beginning October 20, 2011 in conjunction with the Grand Opening of the new SIFF Film Center at Seattle Center, ushering in a new era of film in the Northwest. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn stated, “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.”

Originally opened in 1926, the Uptown Theater was one of Seattle’s oldest and most cherished cinemas until it closed last winter. SIFF will begin programming at the new SIFF Cinema at the Uptown in October of 2011 as part of the SIFF Cinema brand, making the transition this fall out of its current location at McCaw Hall. The newly opened theater will provide SIFF with increased seating capacity and three additional screens, allowing for more flexibility in its year-round programming.

"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,” said Ann Pearce, Chamber vice president. “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!"

Adds Carl Spence, Artistic Director at SIFF, “We couldn’t have scripted a better opportunity for our organization than to have SIFF Cinema at the 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.”

These new and exciting ventures will allow SIFF to expand their rich, year-round programming, establish first-class educational programs throughout the community, and ensure that SIFF and the programs they offer thrive for decades to come.

“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," said Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams.

Now in its 37th year, SIFF has evolved into an internationally recognized film institution, reaching over 200,000 individuals each year through the Seattle International Film Festival, SIFF Cinema and Futurewave Education. SIFF's mission is to create experiences that bring people together to discover extraordinary films from around the world. It is through the art of cinema that we foster a community that is more informed, aware, and alive. Learn more at www.siff.net.

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