SIFF's Message to the Public about COVID-19

March 30, 2020

Dear SIFF Community,

We announced just over a week ago that due to the coronavirus crisis, we closed the cinemas and canceled the 46th Seattle International Film Festival. There is no way to sugarcoat the fact that we also had to lay off all employees, with the exception of a small cadre who will be working reduced hours. We thank our employees for their excellent service and dedication to SIFF. This is sad news and we expect our news will improve with time. For now, we are dark, but we are working towards the light.

During this dark period, we have a dedicated team of board directors and employees who are already working to determine how to make our year-round cinemas more financially sustainable and how to more efficiently run the film festival. Many of you will be hearing from us during this process, as we want to know what you think makes SIFF, well ... SIFF. We don't want to lose the essence of SIFF as we make progress.

Our skeleton crew of employees will be taking care of SIFF's assets and planning for the eventual reopening of SIFF. They won't be in a position to answer calls and emails during this time. It won't be non-profit business as usual at the office.

SIFF is down but not out. We will be back in the short term in some way TBD. We will be back in the longer term. Our timing will depend on the length of the public gathering bans and our ability to raise revenue and recoup losses during this dark period. I would not be doing my job as a board director if I didn't include a pitch for donations from those of you in a position to help us out. You can donate to SIFF here, or purchase a gift certificate. Your donation will help us get our doors opened again sooner rather than later.

Thank you for your support of SIFF over the years. You will be hearing from us again soon.

Lynn Hubbard
SIFF Board of Directors

P.S. Thank you to all of our patrons who had passes or tickets and have turned them into donations to SIFF or have graciously agreed to roll purchases to a future festival.

March 18, 2020

46th Seattle International Film Festival Canceled Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
SIFF on hiatus after the majority of staff laid off

It is with great sadness that we announce the cancellation of the 46th Seattle International Film Festival, scheduled to run May 14 to June 7, 2020. SIFF is committed to being a part of the solution to help slow down the recent spike in numbers of COVID-19 cases in the state and across the country, and we remain committed to the safety of audiences, staff, and the community at large. This, in addition to Monday's announcement by Governor Jay Inslee and King County Executive Dow Constantine further expanding social gathering limits, which now prohibit all events of 50 or larger statewide until further notice, led to this difficult decision. 

For our patrons who have already purchased passes or ticket packs to SIFF 2020, please consider making your purchase a donation to SIFF. If you'd like to consider other options, please submit your request via this form or email

We did not make this decision lightly. The Seattle International Film Festival is the largest film festival in North America, showcasing more than 400 films from more than 85 countries to 140,000+ attendees over 25 days. While the core of the Festival takes place mid-May into early June, pre-events and activities begin up to six weeks earlier. The looming uncertainty of this crisis, and the huge amount of work that would have to be done now, makes it impossible to continue as scheduled. In addition to not being able to bring on nearly 100 seasonal workers, as well as previously announced cinema staff layoffs, we are placed in the untenable position of laying off the majority of our staff.

SIFF will be on hiatus for the next few months while the board and a minimal leadership crew, working reduced hours, regroup. This is hitting SIFF at our most vulnerable time. So much of our funding comes in through festival, and we are losing that to the COVID-19 response at a point when we have already started spending on fixed costs for the festival. When the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, we won't be able to flip a switch and start back up with business as usual. We must pivot our current circumstances into an opportunity to innovate and reimagine a stronger, more sustainable and exciting future for SIFF and activate the philanthropic community to help us. The day will come when we gather again to share great films, community, and experiences. Please consider supporting SIFF with a donation. Donate here.