Monthly Archives: April 2021

2021 FFA Festival Audience Survey

Film Festival Alliance is pleased to announce the return of the FFA Audience Survey. This is a great opportunity for festivals to better understand and compare your audiences against national benchmarks, secure more sponsors and build support in our communities. We are continuing our work with Avenue ISR for the survey. You can review the 2020 Audience Survey results here.

This year, we’re changing it up! The survey will be issued on a rolling basis until December 10th, 2021. You tell us when you’d like to send it out, and we’ll get you a custom survey link.

Learn more about the survey and sign up for your organization to participate here.

Member Spotlight: Ashland Independent Film Festival

The Ashland Independent Film Festival has been long known as a destination festival for its beautiful region and generous hospitality. For the past 20 years, AIFF has lifted underrepresented voices and highlighted the best of American independent cinema during its five-day live event in April. Since the spring of 2020, AIFF has been offering virtual screening opportunities.

What are some things that set your festival apart?

What normally sets AIFF apart is the surrounding beauty of the region, the hospitality of the community, the highly engaged audiences, and an emphasis on multi-arts programming (“live cinema” events blending theater, music, and visual art with film). In the spring of 2020, AIFF became one of the first film festivals to move into the virtual space. Online, we keep as much of our usual atmosphere alive as possible by including filmmaker Q&A’s after every screening and hosting live virtual parties – during which filmmakers and community members interact face-to-face. The 2021 festival is a hybrid “double feature” — virtual April 15-29 and live and outdoors June 24-28, and future festivals will retain a hybrid approach.

How has being a Film Festival Alliance member impacted your organization?

AIFF’s leadership has found FFA to be an incredible resource over the years while navigating the unique and nuanced challenges of our industry, especially during the pandemic. Opportunities to connect with similar organizations, both online and at regional festivals, have proven to provide great insight and inspiration.

What should every filmmaker know about your festival/organization?

AIFF celebrates all artists and honors them by offering complete transparency throughout the submission process and by paying screening fees for every film in the festival (including revenue shares during the virtual festival) as well as cash awards for juried and audience-selected prizes. During live festivals, filmmakers from every film, short and feature-length, are offered accommodations in Ashland and are invited to several exclusive events.

What kind of programming can someone expect at your festival?

The festival structures its film programming in thematic tracks, often including “Arts” and “Activism” as emphases, along with special annual themes like “Rising From the Ashes” and “Screening Cuba” in 2021. Upcoming theatrical film releases are mixed with exciting discoveries by emerging independent filmmakers, both short and feature-length. Leading figures in independent films (such as Al Maysles, Barbara Kopple, David Oyelowo, Barbara Hammer, Christine Vachon, and James Ivory) are honored with the Rogue and Pride Awards and participate in screenings and TalkBacks.

FFA Endorses Documentary Producers Alliance Letter

The Film Festival Alliance is proud to endorse the Documentary Producer Alliance’s (DPA) initiative to provide a more equitable festival experience for film producers.

The letter below from the DPA outlines the importance of producers, their requests, and why they are valuable members of film teams who deserved to be recognized.

It is our hope all FFA member organizations will consider taking these actionable steps toward change to help improve our industry for all filmmakers. Read the full letter below.


“An Open Letter to Film Festival Programmers, Marketing Directors, and Publicists,

We are reaching out to you as the Documentary Producers Alliance (DPA) in the hope that we can turn a new page.

Over the past five years, we have contacted many of you personally, to ask that you include documentary producers, for both features and shorts, in your festival announcements, press releases, and catalogs. While we are immensely grateful to all those who have responded to our requests—DOC NYC, Sundance, Tribeca, and others—we want more film festivals to include producers in their listings and in the full film festival experience.

Producers are the unsung linchpins holding documentary projects and the field together. This normalized absence of recognition for the role we play has wrought genuine harm to our careers, our livelihoods, our mental health, and our imaginations. Your collective recognition will go a long way toward supporting our profession and helping us to be seen as the filmmaking collaborators that we are.

Many people do not understand what producers do. Alongside directors—but often independently—producers develop stories; secure access to participants and locations; write proposals and create decks; raise money; hire DP’s, editors and other creatives; conduct interviews and oversee shoots; ensure that our productions are healthy and safe; mitigate legal risk; liaise with funders, advisors, distributors and sales agents; submit to film festivals; launch and manage impact campaigns, and more.

Producers Are Filmmakers Too.

To recognize the “day-to-day” producers who receive the “Produced By” or “Producer” credit at the time of submission, we ask that you:

  • Include producers in your festival announcements and programs – in advance of and during the event, in print, social media, on your website, and onstage
  • Extend us a badge or pass and include us in our films’ Q&As
  • Include us in your travel and accommodation budgets – we love to support our films in-person
  • Invite us on panels to speak with audiences about the work we do
  • Organize producer gatherings and meet-ups during your festival
  • Include producers in the awards announcements for awards like Audience Award and Best of Fest, and consider adding awards and/or recognition specifically for producers.

Producers and festivals are partners in this magical but messy field of documentary film, and we need each other, deeply, to survive. We are your loyal and faithful champions.

We hope that you will commit to standing with us, too.

With kind regards,

The Documentary Producers Alliance (DPA)”


To launch the initiative, DPA and FFA are jointly hosting a panel discussion with doc producers and a festival director The Festival Experience: Documentary Producers Are Filmmakers Too on April 14, 2021 at 2pm EST/1pm CST/11am PST (archived recording will be available).

Register here: https://bit.ly/3u9ZkdI

Joining the discussion are:
Thom Powers, Festival Director, DOC NYC
Sabrina Gordon, DPA, producer, Quest
Chris Renteria, DPA, producer, Whose Streets?
Rebecca Stern, DPA, producer, Tre Maison Dasan
Barbara Twist, moderator, Associate Director, FFA