SIFF buys its Uptown home and signs lease to reopen the Egpytian

  • Wed May 28th, 2014 5:24pm
  • Life

Herald staff

The Seattle International Film Festival, which continues in Seattle through June 8, announced at its festival premiere that it had made new arrangements for two theaters where it will show independent movies year-round.

SIFF announced the purchase of the SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N., which it has leased since 2011, and the lease of the Egyptian Theatre, 805 E. Pine St., which has been closed since last year when Landmark Cinemas lost its lease there.

The Uptown Theatre in lower Queen Anne opened as a silent movie house in 1926, and since SIFF reopened it in 2011 has regularly shown films and been used during the film festival.

The Egyptian Theatre has been a part of the Seattle International Film Festival since its inception. Originally built as Masonic Temple in 1915, the building’s auditorium was converted into an Egyptian-themed art house cinema by SIFF in 1980. SIFF sold the lease to Landmark Theatres in 1989 in order to fund the organization’s transition to a non-profit arts organization and has rented the venue for the Seattle International Film Festival every year since. In 2013, the doors closed on one of the major focal points for cinema in Seattle. Upon learning the news of the Egyptian’s pending closure, SIFF made a bid on the space to ensure that it would be available for use during future festivals.

Working with Seattle Central Community College, which owns the theater, SIFF and Seattle Central Community College officially signed a lease in May.

But the work is just beginning. Improvements to the Egyptian and growth to the organization are now planned, and SIFF has launched a fundraising campaign to upgrade the theater and ensure its long-term viability. One anonymous donor has already extended a $150,000 matching offer. Along with donor outreach, the organization has also created a “Text To Give” campaign (“Text ‘SIFF’ to 501501 To Donate $10”).

For more information about the Seattle International Film Festival and its year-round film programs, go to