This was my 16th year attending the Seattle International Film Festival. I was a volunteer, a ticket holder, a SIFF member, a Secret Festival-goer, and a member of the press. Lots of hats. I saw 70 films total, which is respectable. Yes, I have a lot more of them to write about, but first I have a few logistical observations about the festival itself:
* I love that there was a mobile site this year. I did not love how poorly it worked. For example, deep links need to redirect to mobile versions of the deep link, and not to the mobile front page. I can’t even tell you how many times I clicked on a Twitter or email link, & then backed right out of the site after it dumped me at the main page. Also, the mobile version of the checkout page needs to accept voucher and discount codes.
* I don’t know if it was harder to find how to redeem ticket packages this year, but it definitely seemed harder. Working will call, I printed off a lot of ticket package vouchers for people who could not work out how to redeem them online. This was uncommon in past years. I am relatively clever and I’ve bought discount ticket packages for years, and it still took me yonks to figure out how to find & use mine.
* I love volunteering for the festival. Love it. I absolutely will continue to volunteer in future. I did not experience any of the supervisor issues I heard about throughout festival. I judged audiences by whether or not they clapped for the volunteer program spot before films. However, I felt that the communication with volunteers was lacking this year, from training on the many logistical changes to general appreciation to understanding that people add & drop shifts all the time & reminding folks to check in on Shiftboard for new options.
Changing the voucher policy for the final weekend was a bad call. Either all venue volunteers get double vouchers or no one does. Obviously it’s great that folks swooped in & picked up last minute shifts, but people who sign up for final weekend shifts in advance *and* actually show up should not be effectively penalized for planning ahead.
Finally, where is the post-festival thank you? Is there a volunteer party this year or not?
* That said, it was a great year. I really liked that SIFF played on both screens at the Exit, that it opened and closed with local films, and that they did such great work with social media. I went to my first opening night, my first tribute as a ticket holder rather than a volunteer, and my first film up in Everett. I saw back-to-back cult films at the Egyptian, a four hour Russian musical, a kick-ass performance by Don’t Talk to the Cops, and a number of strong first features. I have recommendations for the Best of SIFF series that will go live on the Facebook page on Thursday, and there are several films that have distribution that I’ll be reminding you about throughout the summer. A good time was had by all, or at least by me. I’d just like next year to be even more SIFFtacular!