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

·2 min read

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 as the event was in danger of shutting down. 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.

Macdonald “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 festival said in a statement, according to KESQ-TV Palm Springs.

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.

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