Sponsorship Losses Squeeze Film Fests

   Dec. 11, 2008 – Film festivals – which are reliant on corporate sponsors for funding – are feeling the recession squeeze, according to an Associated Press story. Already, the Jackson Hole (Wy) Film Festival folded this year due to lack of money.
   More fortunate is the Newport International Film Festival in Rhode Island. The AP article says that this fest “was in danger of closing after running up debt and struggling to kick-start fundraising. A foundation saved the festival with a last-minute $90,000 donation last month, but organizers eager to cut costs and stay out of financial trouble plan to shorten the June event, said executive director Jennifer Maizel.”
  Another surivivor is the Reel Jersey Film Festival in New Jersey that cut costs by shifting screenings from rented commercial theaters to a rent-free performing arts center owned by local Bergen County.
   The top festivals, while also feeling some drain, are better positioned because they tend to sign sponsors for multi-year contracts, so their funding won’t evaporate all in one year. “In North America, the most important film festivals for unreleased films to reel in distribution deals are the Sundance Film Festival (Park City, Utah) in January and the Toronto International Film Festival in September,” notes Marketing to Moviegoers: Second Edition.
   According to Marketing to Moviegoers: Second Edition, there are 800 multi-day film festivals in the U.S. each year. Many of the lesser fests are created by local business interests seeking to bring crowds to town, fill up restaurants and raise hotel occupancy. Most fests aren't viable just on ticket sales alone, hence sponsorship income is crucial.
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