The Secret Festival is a grand old SIFF tradition. From the official description (bolds mine):
The first rule of the Secret Festival is: DO NOT TALK about the Secret Festival.
Consider the Egyptian Theatre your cave and the hundreds of fellow Secret Festival-goers your comrades in Extreme Artistic Adventuring. Each of the four Secret Festival screenings is held at 11:00 AM every Sunday. Your ceremonial offering of $53 ($43 for SIFF members) allows you to see screenings of one-of-a-kind, coming-soon, unreleased, forgotten, altered, found, private collection, rare, really rare, and exceedingly rare films. But only you will know what they are—and we want to keep it that way...Hold fast, and take these secrets to your grave!
However, after yesterday's Secret Festival screening, at least two attendees were driven to break ranks and publicly decry the poor choice of film (which, anti-spoiler alert, remains unnamed). From an email sent last night to The Stranger:
You should check out XXXXXX's rant about the Secret Festival on SIFF Facebook—I tried to post but I couldn't (did they shut it down for comments?) The film was...yeah. Every kind of violent sexual material was in it— including pedophila, snuff, slashing, violence against women, death of women, violence using dogs—and gallons and gallons and gallons of blood. Who knows what else. I only lasted halfway. Half the audience walked out. It was a last-minute substitution by the coordinator of the Austin (?) Film Festival. Unbelievable in the wake of stuff that happened last week in Seattle. This was just over top, given all that [and an] iInnocent" audience—in that we didn't know what we were seeing.
I know that SIFF has a lot going on right now. But JFC. Don't they read the papers? I won't be going again to the Secret Festival. I'm not sure how I feel about any of it right now...I really did last longer than most people in my row.
Questions to SIFF have been answered in an appropriately Fight Club-y manner. From artistic director Carl Spence:
We don't talk about the secret, discuss or confirm what we've shown. It's like Brigadoon—it really never happened. Secret Festival members are not supposed to talk about it either. Otherwise we risk not being able to get films that we get. So I can't give an official statement.
Good for him. In the absence of anything beyond hearsay and conjecture, let's have a poll.