The Seattle International FilmFestival (SIFF), which next year runs from May 22 to June 15, has announcedthat it will embrace a focus on films by women film-makers into its ownprogramming following the decision not to run a separate Women in Cinemafestival next year. The Women in Cinema event has run for seven years, but SIFFparent group Cinema Seattle decided to axe the festival in 2003.

'This move reflects ourrecognition of women directors as mainstream film artists,' said DarrylMacdonald, director of Cinema Seattle, in a statement. 'In the last tenyears, festivals featuring women's film-making have served a very importantpurpose: to introduce audiences to the richly diverse work being created bywomen all over the world, work that often hadn't received the theatrical exposureit deserved. But now it's time to acknowledge the success of women directors onthe larger cinematic playing field and to avoid the appearance of'ghetto-izing' these strong-and equal contenders for filmhonors.'

Seattle is one of thelargest and most established festival events in the US and last year hosted theworld premiere of indie hits Sunshine State and Igby Goes Down as well as US premieres of such world cinemafavourites as Park chan-Wook's Sympathy For Mr Vengeance, Pen-Ek Ratanaruang's Mon-rak Transistor, Miike Takashi's Agitator, Michael Winterbottom's 24 Hour PartyPeople, Sandra Nettelbeck's MostlyMartha, Annette K Olesen's MinorMishaps and Raja Amari's SatinRouge.