Monthly Archives: May 2022

Film Festival Alliance to Receive $20,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

Film Festival Alliance has been approved for a $20,0000 Grants for Arts Projects award from the National Endowment for the Arts to support our efforts in our work in accessibility, advocacy, and community building. FFA is among 1,125 projects across America totaling more than $26.6 million that were selected during this second round of Grants for Arts Projects fiscal year 2022 funding.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts and cultural organizations throughout the nation with these grants, including Film Festival Alliance, providing opportunities for all of us to live artful lives,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD.

“The arts contribute to our individual well-being, the well-being of our communities, and to our local economies. The arts are also crucial to helping us make sense of our circumstances from different perspectives as we emerge from the pandemic and plan for a shared new normal informed by our examined experience.”

“I am thrilled that Film Festival Alliance has been approved for a $20,000 Grants for Arts Project award from the National Endowment for the Arts,” said FFA Executive Director Barbara Twist. “We look forward to directing it towards our work in accessibility, advocacy, and community building as our festival membership continues to evolve and grow.”

Film Festival Alliance would also like to congratulate our members Ashland Independent Film Festival, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, Cleveland International Film Festival, Cucalorus, Chagrin Documentary Film Festival, Milwaukee Film, Montclair Film Festival, Nashville Film Festival, New Orleans Film Society, Sidewalk Film, and SIFF for their grant support from the NEA for their respective projects.

For more information on other projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.

Inflation + The Impact on Film Festivals: Watch the Playback

On May 11th, Film Festival Alliance hosted a free discussion with festival’s around the country to discuss inflation.

Watch the recording here.
Access code: R+2B*KS9

About the session:

Inflation is at its highest in the last forty years. This means everything from festival merch to venue rentals to wages to ticket prices are going up, and donations from funders and individuals are going down (if not in direct $ amount, then at least in value).

Recommended Reading:
Articles written and/or sourced by Vu Le of NonprofitAF

A letter from Executive Director Barbara Twist

Dear FFA community,

I am grateful to begin this next chapter of Film Festival Alliance with all of you in my new role as Executive Director. I first encountered the Film Festival Alliance community through the Art House Convergence conference, as we collaborated on shared programming. Over the years, our partnership expanded, until Lela asked me to join as the Director of Membership in January 2020. My singular focus on membership had to shift as Lela led the FFA community through one of our most difficult times in recent history. We expanded virtual programming, looked for new ways for collaboration, and actively interrogated long-held beliefs and practices within our organizations, from office culture to pay equity to working hours. I am very much looking forward to building on Lela’s work, and working together as a community during the next challenging chapter of recovery as we shift out of the pandemic.

I want to share a portion of the letter I sent to the hiring committee as part of my application. In it, I outline my beliefs for collaborative working and my key tenets. It is important to me that you know where I stand and where I come from as we move this community forward together:

Exhibition is my ancestry. My great-grandfather founded a chain of movie theaters in Michigan in the early 1900s which served as places of joy, entertainment, and refuge from the stressors of daily life. These theaters were fixtures of small-town America, connecting communities across divides of class, race, and generation. When I graduated from college, I found myself unexpectedly working at one of the original Butterfield theaters: the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. Long since turned non-profit, the theater was no longer connected to the Butterfield chain, which shuttered in the 1980s, yet remained linked through their shared mission of bringing the community together to watch movies. My first festival experience was at the Michigan: the Ann Arbor Film Festival. The thrill of hopping from one screening to the next, of bumping into filmmakers in the theater lobby, and of that indescribable ‘festival feeling’ we all know showed me the expansive power of community-based exhibition. I am deeply committed to continuing my family’s legacy of exhibition, of refuge-seeking, of entertaining all ages, and of bringing joy (and sorrow) to the big screen.

Throughout the last decade of working in the film community, I have observed a diverse set of work ethos, management style, and commitment to values. Through this, I have identified what is effective and sustainable for me, and what I can bring to my role with Film Festival Alliance. I believe in putting people first and honoring boundaries. I believe in establishing boundaries through clear and consistent communication. I believe in growing deeper before growing wider, in strengthening one’s mission before expanding it. I believe in getting back to the basics and building a stable financial foundation. I believe in a consistent, quality experience, and in doing a few things well, rather than many things of lesser quality. Most importantly, I believe in abundance, not scarcity, in rising tides floating all boats, and in community as the best path forward for collective health and growth.

In my two years with Film Festival Alliance, and my decade of working with exhibitors, I have developed three core tenets that I believe are foundational to supporting a national community, particularly of exhibitors who are themselves supporting a diverse community of artists and audiences. As the Executive Director, I will use these as my guides for decision-making and goal-setting for the organization.

Community: Establishing trust and a sense of camaraderie among exhibitors allows for the sharing of resources, advice, and hope, which instills a belief in the abundance model, over the traditional non-profit scarcity model.

Education: Through professional development, leadership training, and data sharing, the health and longevity of the community is ensured because exhibitors are able to make informed decisions, challenge existing power structures, and focus on personal growth, which leads to organizational growth.

Advocacy: Through collective action, exhibitors can tackle structural issues, such as accessibility and access, pay equity, and racism within existing organizational models, and increase the awareness of the festival community on a national level, from funders to media.

I want to close in gratitude to all of you for showing up and making this community the friendly, collaborative space that it is. I am honored to be part of it, and I am excited to share with you our renewed vision for Film Festival Alliance over the coming months.

You can always reach me at barbara [at] filmfestivalalliance.org. I may not respond within a day as I am part-time, but I will get back to you ☺ We’ve got exciting work ahead of us!

Until then,

Barbara Twist named Executive Director of Film Festival Alliance

The Film Festival Alliance is pleased to announce the hiring of Barbara Twist as the organization’s new part-time executive director, effective May 1, 2022. Barbara has served FFA in multiple roles since 2020, most recently as interim executive director.

“After an extensive international search, we are proud to permanently appoint Barbara to spearhead FFA’s efforts. Her experience within the organization is invaluable and her passion for community, education, and advocacy through film exhibition is unmatched,” says Alyx Picard, FFA board president. “We look forward to our continued work supporting all film festival organizations and staff as we navigate recent shifts in the film industry, champion inclusive environments for storytelling, and lead the charge on equitable and fair practices for festival workers, filmmakers, and film organizations alike.”

An L.A.-based filmmaker and exhibition consultant, Barbara has been involved in the independent exhibition sector for over a decade. She previously worked with Art House Convergence as Managing Director until 2017, and in recent years has consulted for organizations including Europa Cinemas, Europa International, and IndieCollect. Since 2020, Barbara has worked with the Vidiots Foundation, a non-profit Los Angeles-based movie theater + video store, and will continue to serve as their part-time Director of Partnerships. Barbara holds an MFA in Creative Producing from Columbia University and has produced several award-winning short films. She is a member of the Producers Guild of America.

“My first festival experience, at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, introduced me to that indescribable ‘festival feeling’ and the expansive power of community-based exhibition,” says Barbara Twist, FFA Executive Director. “At FFA, festivals are our focus, yet we acknowledge we are part of a larger film ecosystem that faces many critical challenges. I have great hope for our future because I believe in the passion and commitment of my colleagues and our collective belief in an abundance model made of shared resources, advice, and comradery. I see this new role as an incredible opportunity to support and grow the exhibition community about whom I am so very passionate.”

Twist will build on the strong foundation laid by her predecessor, Lela Meadow-Conner, who departed in February to head mama.film, after shepherding the organization successfully through the pandemic by more than doubling its budget and introducing innovative programs over the last five years, including FilmEx. In the first year of her tenure, along with her staff and board, Twist will focus FFA on addressing pressing issues of accessibility, fair labor practices, racial inequity within the festival community, and futureproofing festivals’ financial health amid inflation.