(Tucker on opening night; photo by Michelle Moore, courtesy of SIFF)
Gary, was it something we said? Or wrote? A surprising e-mail went out to Seattle media yesterday, announcing that SIFF PR maestro Gary Tucker, long the fest's best and funniest public face, is departing. On his own terms, mind you. He wrote the press release, pimping Cinema Seattle's upcoming summer events like a good soldier to the end, even as he dropped this grenade:
This year’s festival did not quite reach the goals we’d been aiming for, so with a potential capital campaign looming in our future, a few sacrifices have to be made in order to end the year in the black."
The same e-mail states without bitterness that his was to be a new, year-round position for the non-profit Cinema Seattle, which has recently increased its scope with the SIFF Cinema at McCaw Hall and a new series of bookings there beyond the festival (which concluded June 17). And I would bet that Gary will be back for SIFF '08 on a contract basis, delivering his witty annual pre-show remarks at the gala opening night feature.
Still, what were the financial goals, and how disappointing were festival revenues such as to force the staffing cuts? A prior press release from SIFF said the fest "saw record-breaking attendance" and "is projecting a 6% increase in overall box office sales." So that wasn't enough? Or those projections were wrong? Or costs were too high? Too many films were booked? Or the sponsors didn't come through? (For the record, SW is a minor sponsor of SIFF.)
So many questions. To which I'll add another: Who'll answer the phone at SIFF now that Gary's gone? More details--and I hope a few answers--to follow soon.