SIFF – 2023 Community Investment Award

Historic Seattle’s Annual Preservation Celebration is coming up on September 28, 2023. We’ll celebrate the projects and people that help amplify our mission. Today, we feature SIFF, the 2023 Community Investment Award recipient. 

Congratulations to SIFF!

SIFF is the centerpiece of Seattle’s film community. The Seattle International Film Festival is THE event that cinema lovers in the Pacific Northwest look forward to every year. Beyond running one of the world’s largest and most dynamic annual film festivals, SIFF has also fully embedded itself in the Seattle community through year-round events, gatherings, summer filmmaking camps, and more. Most visibly, SIFF has stepped forward time and again to rescue beloved Seattle movie theaters that might otherwise have been demolished or left to collect dust including the Uptown, the Egyptian, and now Cinerama!

For this, Historic Seattle honors SIFF with a Community Investment Award for its work in reopening and maintaining the Cinerama, a cultural icon in Seattle since it opened in January 1963 that operated continuously until its closure in February 2020. For over three years, the theater sat empty with an uncertain future. SIFF announced its acquisition of the Seattle Cinerama Theater from the estate of Paul G. Allen in May 2023 at the opening celebration of its 49th annual film festival. They appreciate the estate’s support and commitment throughout the process. The Cinerama has offered one of the city’s most unique great movie theater experiences since its inception. Representing a significant part of American film history, it is notable as one of only two remaining Super Cinerama theaters, and one of only three capable of showing the original Cinerama three-strip films. When the Cinerama reopens later this year, it will be under a new name due to trademark issues, but in SIFF’s hands, the experience will be just as we remember. The theater’s programming will be similar to previous Cinerama programming, blockbuster studio films, specialty festivals and events, and first-run arthouse films.

With LA’s Cinerama Dome currently out of use, SIFF’s decision to buy and invest in the theater’s future is not only important to Seattle but also on a national and global scale. However, what truly makes SIFF’s purchase so special is that it ensures the long-term survival of a beloved downtown venue full of cherished moviegoing memories for generations of Seattleites. Now, thanks to SIFF and its generous supporters, future generations will get to make their own wonderful memories at Cinerama. With its purchase of Cinerama SIFF has proven once again that it is here to serve Seattle no matter what, not only as part of the city’s film community, but also the community as a whole.


Image courtesy of SIFF