Seattle International Film Festival head Carl Spence is stepping down.
He has begun transitioning out of his role as chief curator and festival director, but will continue to serve the festival in an advisory capacity through next spring.
For the past year, the festival’s board has been conducting a search for a new executive director and hopes to announce one shortly. Beth Barrett, SIFF director of programming, has been appointed interim artistic director.
Spence has worked for the organization for more than two decades, helping grow the 22-year-old event into one of North America’s largest film festivals. He has led the organizations artistic and educational programs for the past 13 years, first as artistic director and then as chief curator and festival director.
He is leaving the festival to start a film-and-arts-focused consulting business called CCS Arts.
“When I started at SIFF in 1994 on a three-month contract for the Festival’s 20th anniversary edition, I had no idea that it would turn into a journey of more than two decades,” Spence said in a statement. “I’m so proud of the work we’ve done together, transforming SIFF from a single major annual event into a vibrant year-round arts organization. I salute my colleagues at SIFF for their unwavering dedication to this aim and most importantly to the thousands of artists involved in the craft of filmmaking along with our film partners who have helped me provide films and experiences to millions of film lovers in Seattle.”
Spence has also held curatorial leadership positions at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and helped launch the Orcas Island Film Festival in 2014.
SIFF screens documentaries during the festival and as part of its year-round programming. Docs to screen during the 2016 edition of the festival included Author: The JT LeRoy Story, Beware the Slenderman, Cameraperson.