The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) is a one of the top film festivals in the country. The 25-day festival is held every spring in Seattle and offers film buffs and movie goers the opportunity to see hundreds of feature-length films, shorts, and documentaries from filmakers in countries around the world.
- Update March 18, 2020: With great sadness SIFF announced cancellation of the 46th Seattle International Film Festival amid the COVID-19 pandemic. SIFF is now on hiatus after the majority of staff is furloughed. Please visit SIFF.NET/COVID-19 for the full public message.
Short History of SIFF
The first Seattle International Film Festival was held in 1976 at the Egyptian-Moore Theatre on Capitol Hill, lasted two weeks, and showed 18 feature films.
In 2007, SIFF added year-round programming showing films every day at three venues: SIFF Cinema Egyptian, SIFF Cinema Uptown, and the SIFF Film Center. During the SIFF Festival, films will be screened at SIFF venues, as well as many other film houses around the Puget Sound region.
Today, SIFF is the largest, most highly-attended film festival in the United States with nearly 140,000 people attending.
SIFF is renowned for eclectic programming. Thousands of submissions are reviewed each year. SIFF presents over 400 films from over 80 countries. Most of the films screened at SIFF will not return to theaters, making the festival a unique place to discover new films.
How to SIFF Successfully
How SIFF works:
- First, purchase a pass or voucher/ticket package. You can purchase single tickets to see films at SIFF, but you save on packages of 6 or more films. A package works like scrip, you turn in each voucher in the package for a ticket.
- Next, choose the movies you want to see listed in the SIFF film festival guide.
- Finally, use a voucher to reserve a ticket to see a specific film. If a film is likely to be popular, reserve a ticket as well in advance as possible, or you may find the film is sold out.
Where to get the SIFF film festival guide:
- View the online SIFF film festival guide.
- Get a print copy at the SIFF box office, any SIFF film venue, or participating venues.
How to choose which films to see:
If you are a film buff, you don’t need any help. But, if you are new to the Festival or are overwhelmed by the choices, here are some of the ways I’ve selected which films to see from among the 400 choices. No one way seems to work better than another; sometimes you like the film and sometimes you don’t. That’s part of the fun.
- Peruse the SIFF film festival guide, mark the films that sound interesting, and go see as many as possible. Note that some film times may conflict and you can only chose one, or may not be at a convenient time or place, or may be sold out.
- Select films in a particular category, such as those from one country, from first-time directors, in a particular genre, or any other reason that sounds interesting to you.
- Chose films by location and time. Simply attend films that are the most convenient.
- Go with friends without questioning their choice and see the film they have selected.
How to avoid ticket lines at venues:
- Note there are two lines at each film: the line to get tickets and the ticketholder line to get into the film. If you get your ticket ahead of time, you avoid the first line.
- Get your ticket ahead of time by downloading tickets to your phone, by printing paper tickets at home, or picking up tickets at the SIFF Box Office.
Arrive early to assure admission:
- Pass and ticket holders who arrive less than 10 minutes prior to show time cannot be guaranteed a seat, even with a ticket or a pass. No refunds or exchanges will be given to ticket or pass holders who arrive late.
- To guarantee admission, pass and ticket holders must arrive at least 10 minutes prior to a film start time.
How to (try to) get in to a sold out movie:
- Tickets to a sold-out film screening may become available 10 minutes before the movie show time.
- To get a ticket to a sold out movie, wait in the stand-by line outside the venue—at least 30 minutes in advance of show time is recommended and earlier if the movie is popular. Note that standby tickets are full-price and cash-only.
- Check https://www.siff.net/festival to see if a screening has tickets available.
- Purchase day-of-show tickets online, by phone, or at the venue 30 minutes before show time.
How to get discount tickets to SIFF
SIFF single tickets are $14 Regular , $13 Seniors/Youth, and $9 SIFF Members. There are several ways to save on tickets for the Festival. Each of these options is explained in more detail below.
SIFF Volunteers get vouchers that are redeemable for SIFF Festival and SIFF Cinema tickets, as well as SIFF Membership. For details or to sign up, see their website.
For more information, visit: https://www.siff.net/support/volunteer
SIFF membership discount
SIFF Members get the lowest prices on Festival tickets and passes and $2 off regularly priced Festival screenings, plus other benefits including early access to purchase tickets and passes before the general public.
In addition to the festival, SIFF Cinema screens hundreds of films throughout the year and hosts a variety of events and special presentations. Members get $5 off regularly priced year-round screenings
For more information, visit: https://www.siff.net/support/membership
SIFF ticket packages
Packages of ticket vouchers offer savings over single ticket prices. There are two packages: 6-pack and 20-packs. You save $1.50 per film with a 6-pack. You save $4.00 per film with a 20-pack.
You do not have to choose which movies to see before buying a package. So buy the package first, and then redeem each voucher for a ticket when you choose which film to see.
For more information, visit: https://www.siff.net/festival
Passes offer the best price per ticket, but you must see 125 movies or more, or you are paying more than regular price to see each film. Still, some films may never be screened again. So it’s a potentially priceless situation.
SIFF Festival Passes go on sale prior to single ticket sales. A Full Series Pass includes admission to all regularly priced screenings, plus admission to press screenings and priority seating.
Passes are available online, by phone, or in-person. There is a service fee for web and phone orders; save on this fee by purchasing tickets in-person at a SIFF Box Office.
In addition to the Full Series Pass, a higher priced VIP pass includes benefits such as priority seating, parties and other events, and more.
- Holiday Promo for 2020 SIFF passes: For one week only (December 9-15, 2019), get six SIFF Cinema ticket vouchers FREE with every purchase of a 2020 Festival Pass! Your Festival Pass will get you access to the 2020 Seattle International Film Festival (May 14 – June 9, 2020) and as a bonus, you’ll get six free opportunities to experience your choice of SIFF Cinema programming. Offer ends at midnight on December 15. More info or passes: https://www.siff.net/festival/holiday-1-promo
For more information, visit: https://www.siff.net/festival
SIFF ticket discounts
- Early bird discounts become available sometime in the fall. Passes and packages go on sale before single tickets.
- SIFF members get early access to purchase SIFF tickets and passes at a discount.
- Buy early, prices for passes and packages go up the closer we get to the Festival.
For more SIFF information, visit: https://www.siff.net/festival
Want more film festivals throughout the year? Check our big list of annual film festivals.
Want more movies anytime? Check our big list of movie theaters.