The 25-day Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF Festival) is held every spring in Seattle and offers film buffs and movie goers the opportunity to see hundreds of feature-length films, shorts films, and documentaries from filmakers in countries around the world. It is the largest film festival in the United States. Debut discoveries screen along with established master filmmakers and arthouse cinema hits.
About the SIFF Festival
The first Seattle International Film Festival was held in 1976 at the Egyptian-Moore Theatre, lasted two weeks, and showed 18 feature films.
Today, SIFF is the largest, most highly-attended film festival in the United States, with over 150,000 attendees and was named one of the 50 must-see film festivals by Variety.
The 25-day SIFF Festival continues to be Seattle’s most accessible and highly publicized film event, renowned for eclectic programming. Reviewing thousands of submissions annually, the Festival presents over 400 features, short films, and documentaries from over 80 countries.
More than 70% of the films screened at Festival will not return to theaters, making SIFF a unique place to discover and celebrate new work from around the world.
Adding year-round programming in 2007, SIFF Cinema screens films every day at three venues: SIFF Cinema Egyptian, SIFF Cinema Uptown, and the SIFF Film Center. All three unique cinema houses are committed to excellent film experiences, great customer service, and eclectic programming 365 days a year.
During the SIFF Festival, films will be screened at SIFF venues, as well as many other film houses around the Puget Sound regions.
Things to Know about SIFF Festival
How SIFF works: First, you purchase a SIFF Festival pass or ticket package. (You can purchase single tickets, but you save on packages of 6 or more tickets.) Then review the schedule in the SIFF Film Festival Guide and choose which movies to see (over 400 film screenings). Finally, request or reserve a ticket. 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.
How to choose which films to see: If you are a film buff, you don’t need any help. If you are new to the SIFF Festival or otherwise overwhelmed by the choices, here are some of the ways I’ve chosen 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: Download tickets to your phone using the SIFF Mobile Tickets Apple app or SIFF Mobile Tickets Android app, or print tickets at home by downloading and printing a PDF of your ticket.
Arrive early with a ticket to guarantee admission: Pass and ticket holders must arrive at least 10 minutes prior to show time to guarantee admission. Pass and ticket holders arriving 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 arriving late.
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. You can wait in the standby line outside the venue (at least 30 minutes in advance is recommended, and earlier if the movie is popular). Note that standby tickets are full-price and cash-only.
Day-of-show tickets: if available, can be purchased at the venue 30 minutes before show time. Before you head out, check www.siff.net to see if the screening has tickets available. You can also by day-of-show tickets online or by phone.
How to get discount tickets to SIFF
Year-round SIFF Cinema tickets are $14 Regular , $13 Seniors/Youth, and $9 SIFF Members. There are several ways to save on tickets for the SIFF Festival:
- become a SIFF member
- volunteer at SIFF (during the festival or year-round)
- buy a festival pass
- buy ticket a package
Each of these options is explained in more detail below:
SIFF membership discount
SIFF Members get the lowest prices on Festival tickets and passes, plus early access to purchase tickets and passes before the general public, and other benefits throughout the year. In addition to the festival, SIFF Cinema screens hundreds of films throughout the year and hosts a variety of events and special presentations.
SIFF volunteer benefits
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.
SIFF festival passes and ticket packages
SIFF Festival Passes and Ticket Packages always go on sale prior to single ticket sales, and to SIFF members before the general public.
Passes and Packages 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.
Passes offer the best price per ticket, but you generally must see upwards of 125 movies, or you are paying more than regular price to see each film. Still, some films may never be screened again. So it’s a priceless situation.
Packages of multiple tickets offer savings over regular prices, and is more in line with the number of films most people are likely to see in a 25-day span. I’m not an avid movie goer, and find 6-12 movies is about right. You can always buy one package and then buy a second one if you use it up quickly.
Here’s more detail about SIFF festival passes and ticket packages:
FULL SERIES PASS to the Festival includes admission to all regularly priced screenings ($14 or less), admission to press screenings prior to and during festival, and priority seating. If you plan to see upwards of 125-130 films, you save money over individual tickets or ticket package. There are also higher priced premier passes, which offer more benefits. Early Bird Pass Discounts are offered in three tiers:
- October: For SIFF Members only, there is get a huge discount in fall well ahead of the spring film festival.
- October-December: Earliest Bird discounts for members and non-members.
- January to mid-April: Early Bird discounts for members and non-members.
Early bird festival pass discounts are for Festival passes ONLY, not ticket packages or single tickets.
Festival Ticket Packages include six (6) or twenty (20) regularly-priced screenings with early access, offering a discount to both members and non-members. You do not have to choose which movies to see before buying a package. So buy the ticket package first, and then redeem each one as you choose a film to see.