AT ANY OTHER film festival on earth, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels would never be allowed behind the velvet rope. ("I'm sorry, sir, but your head is too large to fit through the metal detector.") If SIFF wants to be taken seriously, somebody's got to get this buzz-killer off the guest list. Before Thursday's gala-night screening, he idiotically tried to rouse the Paramount crowd with Sonics references. Yeah, right, like we'd all rather be watching them lose to San Antonio instead of seeing a movie. In an arena we don't visit but have to pay for. Later, festival director Helen Loveridge basically wished aloud that the Sonics would lose—so parking would be easier at the Uptown. At least someone has her priorities straight. And I loved the fact that amid all the seal-like applause for sponsors and various SIFF dignitaries, the mention of former festival director Darryl MacDonald was greeted with thunderous . . . silence. So audiences really are getting smarter. About 2,800 people came for Miranda July's Me and You and Everyone We Know; most people I talked to seemed to like it. None of them, so far as I could tell, had any interest in the red Toyota pickup truck parked in the Paramount lobby. That's just what a bunch of cineastes want—to grab a six-pack, round up some buddies, and go four-wheeling up a dry creek bed. (Mr. Mayor, here's your new official vehicle. Maybe you can drive it to the Dukes of Hazzard premiere. Yeee-haaaaw!) But couldn't we try, Seattle, to be just a little more sophisticated for our movie premieres? This isn't Sundance in January—you don't have to wear mittens and boots. Would it really kill you to dress up? (Here's an idea: Make the Metro Ride-Free Zone conditional on having showered that day and wearing something nice.) And I'm not talking about your bell-bottoms, Pumas, and vintage airline tote bags. Even if July—looking like a smart young skirted grad student—could mention performing at the O.K. Hotel in the old days, that doesn't mean dressing as if for a rock concert. On the other hand, it's hard to get all glammed up when jumping over the bus-tunnel trenches surrounding the Paramount and being herded through Cyclone fencing like new detainees at Guantánamo Bay. ("Do not desecrate the holy SIFF program guide by flushing it down the toilet! There is rioting in Belltown!") THE PARTY? What about the party? When a SIFF staffer tried to explain to the Paramount throng that the gala was to follow at the old temporary library space at Eighth Avenue and Pike Street, future home of the new Museum of History and Industry, I felt the room swimming in a vapor of confusion. You mean the library we never went to, and the Montlake museum we only visited as part of an obligatory elementary-school field trip? No one had any idea where it was. Mentally, I mapped the downtown coordinates: ah-ha, Hitler's Bunker, aka the Convention Center. Most of SIFF's opening-night galas are remembered for the awful locations and endless lines for food and drinks. Well, here was an exception to one of those axioms. The empty future museum space, soon to be filled with ships-in-bottles and children's boogers, is a big white box that screams out, "Empty! Industrial! Lofty!" Better still, someone had the bright idea to project movies on various walls (Contempt among them) and deploy some fabulous '60s white plastic furniture—all very Sleeper. And with all those thousands of square feet, there was room to avoid the endless lines. What a shame that a museum should have to go there. Shouldn't our children—and our children's children—be exposed to great party spaces, not dioramas about the Great Seattle Fire? Live music from the Posies—another good idea, and without the cigarette stink of a club. Someone at SIFF was clearly thinking of Warhol's Factory, what with the Velvet Underground tunes in the lobby and the trippy projected light shows flowering on the walls and ceiling. They could've made it a theme party, with costumes for the best Edie Sedgwick. That Chelsea Girls look is due for a revival right about now. firstname.lastname@example.org The Seattle International Film Festival continues through Sun., June 12. Visit www.seattlefilm.org for schedule, tickets, and details. Call 206- 324-9997 for info and 206-324-9996 for tickets. In-person advance tickets: Pacific Place and Broadway Performance Hall (11 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat.; noon–6 p.m. Sun.). Same-day tickets: Individual venues open 30 minutes before the first show.