Seattle Times critic John Hartl remembers Dan Ireland, who arrived in Seattle as a brash young man in 1975 and not only changed the city — he co-founded SIFF, among other projects — but became an acclaimed film director.

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Dan Ireland, who passed away last week, was very young and very brash when he and his partner, Darryl Macdonald, left Vancouver, B.C., in 1975 with dreams of turning Seattle’s ancient Moore Theatre into an art house — which would become the Moore Egyptian.

It took a lot of chutzpah, not to mention life savings, to heat the place, transform it and present the opening attraction — Busby Berkeley’s campy 1943 musical, “The Gang’s All Here” — as a special event. Dan and Darryl, as they came to be known, followed that up with a Warner Bros. festival and a Federico Fellini series.

That turned out to be a mere sign of things to come. Something big and splashy was about to happen in the local film scene, and its twinlike creators were becoming famous for never saying “no.” If they’d been a little younger or a little older, it might not have worked, but they were just the right age to pull off this gamble.

What would they do next?

Well, Seattle had never had a film festival — and why not? San Francisco and New York had proved that a potential audience existed, and Dan and Darryl had demonstrated a knack for programming and publicity.

A gaudy, opening advertising program asked the question: “Moore Egyptian than what?”

In May 1976, the first Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) opened to a large and clearly willing audience. The festival continued on an annual basis, though the co-founders eventually moved on — Darryl to other cities and festivals. (The Egyptian motif eventually moved up to the old Masonic Temple on Capitol Hill, where the theater is now the SIFF Egyptian.)

Dan, who was in his 50s when he died at home April 14, became a movie producer and eventually an acclaimed movie director, making his debut with the extraordinary 1996 drama “The Whole Wide World,” following it up with “Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont” (a 2005 high point in the career of Joan Plowright), “Jolene” (Jessica Chastain’s 2008 debut role) and the impassioned TV movie “Living Proof” (2008), with Harry Connick Jr. and Bernadette Peters.

Dan thought of “Jolene” as his variation on the resilient heroine of Fellini’s “Nights of Cabiria” (1957), who learns to pick herself up, dust herself off and start all over again. It’s a theme with which he became familiar.

Dan also worked on John Huston’s great last film, “The Dead’ (1985), and a series of Ken Russell movies, some of them fun (“Lair of the White Worm”) and others no fun at all (1991’s “Whore”). Some of the films Dan directed seemed like mistakes (his 1999 sophomore effort “The Velocity of Gary”), while others looked like well-done jobs (2003’s “Passionada”).

At the time of his death, he was working on “Life Briefly,” the true story of Brian Knapp, a blind boy who became a first-rank drummer by the time he was 10. Knapp performed with Johnny Cash (played by Mark Collie) on stage seven times, dying at the age of 14.

When I last talked to Dan, by phone, in November 2015, he was excited about his first major project in years. Bill Paxton and Ashley Judd headed the cast, shooting was scheduled to take place in Atlanta, and child actor Ty Simkins was cast as Knapp.

As always, Dan communicated intense optimism about his latest movie, even though several of them had fallen through over the years. He would often talk about projects that seemed to have been greenlighted, then crumbled — sometimes when one apparently committed actor had to leave.

A few weeks ago, on March 29, Dan left an email for me: “Been doing physical therapy from a fall I had on the last day in Atlanta, and other film-related activity. Will try connecting soon.”

Truly, life is too brief.