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Darryl Macdonald, a Founder of Seattle and Palm Springs Film Festivals, Dies at 70

Darryl Macdonald attend the Palm Springs
AP IMAGES FOR PALM SPRINGS FILM

Darryl Macdonald, co-founder of the Seattle and Palm Springs film festivals, has died. He was 70.

Festival chairman Harold Matzner told the Desert Sun Macdonald had suffered from a respiratory condition.

Macdonald joined the Palm Springs International Film Festival in 1989 as artistic director of the gathering founded by Sonny Bono, the artist-producer turned Republican congressman, to bring more tourism to the L.A.’s desert getaway.

Macdonald worked with the festival until 1993. Ten years later, he rejoined the festival as executive director. He revived PSIFF as an important early January stop on the Hollywood awards calendar. Variety has celebrated its annual “10 Directors to Watch” honorees with a luncheon at PSIFF for nearly a decade. Macdonald stepped down in 2015.

“Darryl Macdonald was the first Artistic Director for The Palm Springs International Festival, and instilled a love and appreciation for filmmaking that carries on to this day,” the Palm Springs International Film Society said in a statement. “When he returned to lead the organization in 2003, he was instrumental in defining our festivals as one of the best in the world, bringing his infectious passion to the staff, the filmmakers, and the Palm Spring community. The mark he left behind was indelible, and we are mixed with sadness and gratitude as we mourn all the loss.”

PSFF festival chairman Harold Matzner added: “Darryl was very, very good at his job. He could talk film better than anyone I have ever met.”

Macdonald was also co-founder of the Seattle International Film Festival in 1976. The festival grew from small beginnings and was steered by Macdonald for 29 years. The Seattle festival hailed Macdonald’s “vision, leadership, creativity and passion for film” and understanding of “the profound effect film can have on audiences” in paying tribute to its former leader.

Macdonald also served as programming director of the Hamptons Film Festival and Vancouver Film Festival.

CORRECTION: Macdonald’s exact date of death is not known.