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

You won’t acknowledge Ruth Hayler’s identify, however in some unspecified time in the future you in all probability watched a film that she selected for you. For almost 5 many years, 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 cherished literary movies, however she may very well be discovered on the Egyptian having fun with edgy midnight fare — Hayler helped form Seattle’s wealthy urge for food for artwork home and worldwide cinema.

Hayler died on Nov. 7, a day after celebrating her 74th birthday with pals. The reason for her demise, stated her sister Barbara Hayler, was atherosclerosis.

“I wager Seattle is aware of Kurosawa due to Ruth,” stated her longtime pal Dale Nash, remembering movie sequence that Hayler would ebook on the native Seven Gables chain. These had been pre-DVD days, when she “she was displaying issues you might n’t simply go to Scarecrow and lease”: Kurosawa, 70mm movies, Shakespeare sequence, traditional Warner Bros. motion pictures. At SIFF, the place she was concerned with each version of the annual competition from its beginnings in 1976, “she had a really particular eye for worldwide movies that may entice audiences,” Inventive Director Beth Barrett stated. “She was simply so sensible about audiences.”

Hayler grew up in San Diego and the Bay Space, however made Seattle her everlasting house in 1973, after coming back from graduate college in London (writing her thesis on the poems of Siegfried Sassoon). She’d fallen in love with motion pictures whereas abroad, attending screenings on the British Movie Institute, and commenced a lifelong behavior of retaining notebooks with particulars of films she’d seen. Her first job in Seattle was one she basically saved for nearly her whole life: Curious in regards to the Film Home, a tiny unbiased arthouse opened by Randy Finley in 1970, she met with Finley, “simply to see what was happening, study somewhat extra about what was doable,” her sister stated. He unexpectedly supplied her a job as theater supervisor, and a protracted profession started.

Doing somewhat little bit of every part in these early days—making popcorn, taking cellphone reservations—Hayler rapidly realized the ropes of movie programming. She accompanied Finley as he ultimately 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 outdated American Legion corridor.

Although the Seven Gables chain was offered to nationwide arthouse chain Landmark Theaters in 1989, Hayler stayed in her job—and in her legendarily cluttered workplace on the Gables. By no means significantly desirous about expertise aside from film projectors, Hayler appreciated paper; Her workplace was full of newspapers, copies of Selection or The Hollywood Reporter, film fliers, posters, faxes and memos. She had an uncanny means of with the ability to attain right into a towering stack of papers to drag out the precise sheet she wanted. “It was astonishing to see,” stated 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,” stated Collecchi. “That is an incredible factor to have the ability to do — simply to know, from a few toes of picture at first 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 de ella at SIFF continued—one other throughline all through her life de ella. Gary Tucker, a former SIFF worker, remembered working with Hayler within the early days of the competition. “She had an incredible 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 stated.

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

Tucker, who additionally works for Telluride, remembered Hayler as soon as profitable a contest that concerned figuring out details in regards to the competition’s historical past. “Ella She knew it higher than anybody else — greater than the individuals who labored there!” he stated.

Outdoors of the films, Hayler cherished 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 de ella sister Barbara Hayler, she is survived by her sister Helen Hayler Barker, her de ella brothers Lewis Hayler and Don Hayler, and plenty of nieces and nephews. There aren’t any present plans for a memorial service for her, however SIFF plans to honor her with a particular screening on the annual competition 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 is a Great Life,” “The Large Sleep ,” “Singin’ within the Rain,” “Some Prefer it Scorching,” “North by Northwest,” “Lawrence of Arabia” and “2001: A Area Odyssey.” Taken collectively, they make up a exceptional course in movie historical past; you may think about a younger Hayler falling in love with them, learning them, disappearing into their worlds.

“She simply needed individuals to go see motion pictures,” stated Barrett, of SIFF. “She cherished them a lot and he or she needed everybody else to like them.”

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