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Died – Dying – Obituary : Ruth Hayler, longtime programmer for Seattle moviehouses and SIFF, dies at 74



Died – Dying – Obituary

Ruth Hayler, longtime programmer for Seattle moviehouses and SIFF, dies at 74

You may not acknowledge Ruth Hayler’s identify, however sooner or later you in all probability watched a film that she selected for you. For practically 5 a long time, Hayler labored behind the scenes as a movie booker, purchaser, theater supervisor and programmer, for the Seven Gables and Landmark chains and for the Seattle Worldwide Movie Pageant. A film lover with an encyclopedic reminiscence and eclectic style — she significantly beloved literary movies, however could possibly be discovered on the Egyptian having fun with edgy midnight fare — Hayler helped form Seattle’s wealthy urge for food for arthouse and worldwide cinema.

Hayler died on Nov. 7, a day after celebrating her 74th birthday with associates. The reason for dying, mentioned her sister Barbara Hayler, was atherosclerosis.

“I guess Seattle is aware of Kurosawa due to Ruth,” mentioned her longtime pal Dale Nash, remembering movie sequence that Hayler would e-book on the native Seven Gables chain. These had been pre-DVD days, when “she was exhibiting belongings you couldn’t simply go to Scarecrow and hire”: Kurosawa, 70mm movies, Shakespeare sequence, traditional Warner Bros. films. At SIFF, the place she was concerned with each version of the annual pageant from its beginnings in 1976, “she had a really particular eye for worldwide movies that may entice audiences,” Creative Director Beth Barrett mentioned. “She was simply so sensible about audiences.”

Hayler grew up in San Diego and the Bay Space, however made Seattle her everlasting dwelling in 1973, after coming back from graduate faculty in London (writing her thesis on the poems of Siegfried Sassoon). She’d fallen in love with films whereas abroad, attending screenings on the British Movie Institute, and started a lifelong behavior of protecting notebooks with particulars of films she’d seen. Her first job in Seattle was one she primarily stored for nearly her whole life: Curious concerning the Film Home, a tiny unbiased arthouse opened by Randy Finley in 1970, she met with Finley, “simply to see what was happening, study a bit extra about what was attainable,” her sister mentioned. He unexpectedly supplied her a job as theater supervisor, and an extended profession started.

Doing a bit little bit of every little thing in these early days — making popcorn, taking telephone reservations — Hayler rapidly realized the ropes of movie programming. She accompanied Finley as he finally left the Film Home (now the Grand Phantasm Cinema) and based the Seven Gables chain, which included a number of arthouse cinemas in Seattle and Portland. Amongst them: the Seven Gables theater, opened in 1976 within the College District in an previous American Legion corridor.

Although the Seven Gables chain was offered to nationwide arthouse chain Landmark Theatres in 1989, Hayler stayed in her job — and in her legendarily cluttered workplace on the Gables. By no means significantly serious about know-how apart from film projectors, Hayler favored paper; her workplace was stuffed with newspapers, copies of Selection or The Hollywood Reporter, film fliers, posters, faxes and memos. She had an uncanny method of having the ability to attain right into a towering stack of papers to tug out the precise sheet she wanted. “It was astonishing to see,” mentioned Nick Collecchi, who labored with Hayler at Landmark for a few years. “The order existed to her, even when it wasn’t evident to the remainder of us.”

Illustrating Hayler’s film information, Collecchi described an expertise when Hayler was programming repertory movies (non-first-run movies) on the Crest Cinema Heart, when a print of “Lawrence of Arabia” turned up with out its “heads and tails” — the identification on every reel that claims what order they go in. A panicked projectionist referred to as Hayler, who drove up from the Seven Gables and rapidly found out what went the place. “It ran completely,” mentioned Collecchi. “That’s a tremendous factor to have the ability to do — simply to know, from a few ft of picture in the beginning or finish of a reel, the place you might be within the film.”

Hayler’s profession at Landmark lastly led to 2020, simply earlier than the pandemic, when her place was eradicated. However her work at SIFF continued — one other throughline all through her life. Gary Tucker, a former SIFF worker, remembered working with Hayler within the early days of the pageant. “She had a tremendous reminiscence, not simply of movies and what we had been contemplating, however the place they had been from, what nation we would have liked to get illustration for, the place we must always schedule it within the lineup primarily based on how comparable movies from that nation had carried out up to now,” he mentioned.   

Hayler beloved immersing herself in movie and yearly would attend the weekend-long Telluride Movie Pageant in Colorado. Within the early years, she’d carry a tent and camp out, or would hire a jeep for some off-road exploring. Her pal Shelley Gibson, who attended Telluride with Hayler in recent times, mentioned that a lot of the enjoyable was the conversations whereas ready in line for screenings. “She was so educated, folks had been all the time coming as much as speak to her.”

Tucker, who additionally works for Telluride, remembered Hayler as soon as successful a contest that concerned figuring out info concerning the pageant’s historical past. “She knew it higher than anybody else — greater than the individuals who labored there!” he mentioned.

Outdoors of the flicks, Hayler beloved classical music (she and Nash had been longtime subscribers to the Seattle Symphony), loved attending Pacific Northwest Ballet, and was a voracious reader of mysteries and science fiction/fantasy. Along with her sister Barbara Hayler, she is survived by her sister Helen Hayler Barker, her brothers Lewis Hayler and Don Hayler, and lots of nieces and nephews. There are not any present plans for a memorial service, however SIFF plans to honor her with a particular screening on the annual pageant within the spring. For memorial donations, her household suggests SIFF.

Hayler’s 10 favourite movies, listed on her “meet the programmer” web page at SIFF, had been all beloved classics: “Seven Samurai,” “Kids of Paradise,” “Sherlock Jr.,” “It’s a Great Life,” “The Huge Sleep,” “Singin’ within the Rain,” “Some Prefer it Scorching,” “North by Northwest,” “Lawrence of Arabia” and “2001: A House Odyssey.” Taken collectively, they make up a outstanding course in movie historical past; you’ll be able to think about a younger Hayler falling in love with them, finding out them, disappearing into their worlds.

“She simply wished folks to go see films,” mentioned Barrett, of SIFF. “She beloved them a lot and she or he wished everybody else to like them.”

Ruth Hayler, longtime programmer for Seattle moviehouses and SIFF, dies at 74

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