SIFF 2011 ends this weekend. I've seen some exceptional movies this year. Seriously. It's one of my favorite times of the year. And it's even more amazing when you realize that the 35 SIFF movies I've seen to date don't even add up to 10% of all the movies that SIFF has played this year. Some have complained about the size of the festival, but I disagree with that argument; I think a buckshot approach is a valid way to get a sampling of the immensity of a year's worth of world cinema.

But while the experience is still fresh in our minds, I wanted to talk about a couple of things that I think SIFF could do better. And I want to start, appropriately enough, with trailers. I love trailers; they're one of my favorite parts of the theatergoing experience. Even if the advertised movie isn't something I have any interest in seeing, I still enjoy seeing the trailer. Here's the question: Why is it that SIFF only shows one trailer per movie? Before every movie, the audience sits through a City Arts commercial, a SIFF commercial, one trailer, an advertisement for SIFF's new-this-fall film center, and an ad for SIFF Cinema. That's three ads for the organization you're already supporting by attending the movie. (And this isn't even including the SIFF representative who personally thanks sponsors from the stage and makes another appeal for SIFF after the ads are over.) It seems to me that the best advertisement for the festival would be showing more trailers of other SIFF movies. Aside from word of mouth, a trailer is the best way to get butts in the seats. Why is SIFF so trailer-averse?

I make this case every year, but I think it's time to revisit: I really do wish SIFF was a month or two earlier. Every year, the most beautiful Seattle day in six months happens during SIFF, and people have to decide between staying out and enjoying the sun they haven't seen in ages or going inside a dark theater for a couple hours. What's more: The highest-grossing films of the year are traditionally being released at the same time. You could make the case that, say, X-Men: First Class audiences aren't going to go see SIFF movies, but I think you're oversimplifying Seattle theatergoers (I'd prefer to see both a SIFF movie and X-Men: First Class rather than choosing between the two, and I don't think I'm alone). You're pitting movie audiences against other movie audiences.

Add in Sasquatch and all the other outdoorsy festivals that happen during the three weeks of SIFF and the potential audience just gets smaller and smaller. If SIFF took place during three weeks in March or February, I would spend every night of the week theater-hopping because Seattle's late-winter options are so dire. I realize this presents all kinds of behind-the-scenes nightmares for programmers—right now, some of the best SIFF movies we see are a result of the fact that the festival shares at least part of the same schedule as Cannes, so lots of the prints are bouncing between Seattle and France in a tightly coordinated routine. But can't we piggyback on, say, Sundance? Living in Seattle means you have to struggle with an embarrassment of riches in the summer and sometimes starve for distractions in the late fall and winter. SIFF could be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.

Is there anything you think SIFF could do differently? Do you think my ideas are stupid? Do you think SIFF is perfect just the way it is? Now is the time to have this conversation; with an organization this size, they probably start planning next year's festival the day after this year's festival ends.