WHEN BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO OFFERED CINEMA Seattle $50,000 last month to become the exclusive video store sponsor of the non-profit organization best known for producing the Seattle International Film Festival, it looked like the beginning of the end for the mutually beneficial ties between Cinema Seattle and longtime sponsor Scarecrow Video. But a meeting last week between Cinema Seattle's Darryl Macdonald and Scarecrow owners Carl Tostevin and John Dauphiny has led to a repair of that breach, while leaving other local independent video store owners steaming. Tostevin and Dauphiny met with Macdonald to ask that Scarecrow be allowed to continue their support of the festival. After that meeting, Macdonald asked Blockbuster to allow previous sponsors of the festival to continue their support, to which Blockbuster agreed, according to Tostevin. (Darryl Macdonald could not be reached for this story.) Following this agreement, "We have renewed our support entirely," said Tostevin.

However, this exception applies only to Scarecrow, which sponsored one film in each festival in recent years, giving Cinema Seattle $1,000 and access to the store's video library and resources such as PAL video players. Other local video stores which have bought ads in the festival program in the past, including the independent alliance Seattle's Best Video Stores, which includes Rain City Video, Video Isle, Island Video, and Reckless Video, are still barred from sponsoring individual movies or the festival, though they could continue to buy advertising.

Island Video owner Tom Hastings thought the coalition had been a sponsor, as they'd given the festival $2,000 to buy program ads in 1997, and planned to offer Cinema Seattle between seven and ten thousand dollars this year. (Organizational lapses by both parties resulted in Seattle's Best missing the 1998 fest.) The stores will not buy ads in SIFF's program this year, and won't promote the festival, as they had in past years, with in-store displays or other promotions.

"We've been fucked over," said Hastings. He claims that Scarecrow has sold out Seattle's other independent video stores, and insists that the compromise worked out by Cinema Seattle, Blockbuster, and Scarecrow is a bad one. "The independents have been screwed over here. Scarecrow should have more pride than that." As for Cinema Seattle, "It's unbelievably shortsighted to cut off their local roots and align themselves with the single most detested video store of your average SIFF fan."