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The Seattle International Film Festival has named former director of programming Beth Barrett, its new artistic director, Variety has learned exclusively.

With her advancement, Barrett becomes SIFF’s first female artistic director and one of only a few women in the U.S. to holding this position for a major film festival. Barrett assumed the mantle of interim artistic director last October and led the organization through its 43rd festival.

Barrett began her career at SIFF in 2003 and became director of programming in 2011. She’s been responsible for managing all aspects of film programming, from overseeing the staff of film programmers, to securing films and guests. She helped secure SIFF’s status as an Academy Award qualifying festival in 2008.

“Beth has played a key role in SIFF’s growth for over a decade. Along with her artistic vision she brings a ton of passion and energy,” said Rich Fassio, SIFF Board President. “This is an exciting time for our organization; SIFF is experiencing consistent upward growth and we are about to conclude another record year.”

The 25-day festival is one of the biggest in the U.S., presenting over 450 features, short films, and documentaries from over 80 countries each year.  The 44th annual Seattle International Film Festival will be held May 17 through June 10, 2018.