Film Festival Alliance

Category Archives: Newsletter

Last Call to Submit to the 2016 IFP Filmmaker Labs

Festival tribe, do you have emerging filmmakers on your radar who would benefit from the 2016 IFP Filmmaker Labs? If so, please spread the word…


IFP’s unique yearlong mentorship program supports first-time feature directors when they need it most: through the completion, marketing and distribution of their films.  Focusing exclusively on low-budget features (<$1million), this highly immersive program provides filmmakers with the technical, creative and strategic tools necessary to launch their films—and their careers. Through the Labs, IFP works to ensure that talented emerging voices receive the support, resources, and industry exposure necessary to reach audiences.

Open to all first time feature documentary and narrative directors with films in post-production. Twenty projects (10 documentaries and 10 narratives) are selected for the annual program. All Lab projects also automatically participate in the Project Forum of IFP’s Independent Film Week.

Lab alumni projects include Charles Poekel’s Christmas, Again (Factory 25), Lyric Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe’s (T)error (The Film Collaborative), Darius Clark Monroe’s Evolution of a Criminal (Independent Lens), David Thorpe’s Do I Sound Gay? (Sundance Selects) Aron Gaudet & Gita Pullapilly’s Beneath the Harvest Sky (Tribeca Film), Stacie Passon‘s Concussion (RADiUS), Alexandre Moors‘ Blue Caprice (Sundance Selects), Penny Lane‘s Our Nixon (CNN Films and Cinedigm), Daniel Patrick Carbone‘s Hide Your Smiling Faces (Tribeca Film), Lotfy Nathan‘s 12 O’Clock Boys (Oscilloscope), Dee Rees‘s Pariah (FocusFeatures), and Terence Nance‘s An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (Variance Films).

Deadline to Apply:  Tuesday, March 1

Introducing the Film Festival Alliance!


Dear Film Festival Professional:

Greetings! Just a few weeks ago, many of us gathered pre-Sundance at the Art House Convergence to share camaraderie, best practices and new ideas for how to be better film festivals. For those who were there, thank you for making this our largest, best-attended event yet. A record number of festival professionals attended this year, our third as an AHC partner. We programmed close to 30 festival-specific panels and events, and our members and attending festival professionals participated in a wide range of productive activities throughout the conference.

For those who could not be with us, no worries. We will start our monthly webinars again soon, and are already planning our next regional event, so stay tuned!

Originally founded in 2010 as a program of IFP, we are excited to remind you that we are now a stand alone, not-for-profit organization: the first and only such group dedicated to Film Festivals and the dedicated individuals who make them happen. Our new website is up and running, which we will be adding to and updating often, so poke around and see what is new.

Many festivals graciously renewed their memberships or joined for the first time last month. Thank you all! If you were a previous a member of the IFP Festival Forum—our former entity—but have not renewed, expect a letter soon from our Treasurer, Anne Chaisson.

If you have not yet joined, we ask that you join today. The rates are reasonable, and soon many of the tools and benefits we have provided will be available only to paying festivals and professional members. Do you work for several organizations or run a volunteer festival? Join as an individual! Rates start as low as $100, but the benefits to the field are innumerable.

Lastly, our board formed working committees at the Art House Convergence. If you volunteered for a committee, or if you wish to join one now (and are a paying member), please contact the relevant committee chair, get involved and help these groups undertake their important work in the weeks to come. Have a festival coming up? Please just let your chair know when you will be available. We know better than anyone how seasonally your workload shifts.

That is why the Film Festival Alliance is special: no one knows what gets you out of bed to do the mission-driven work of running a film festival better than we do. The Film Festival Alliance is your tribe, and we are here for you.

On behalf of all of us, thank you, and we look forward to seeing you all again—and working together!—soon.

Colin Stanfield, Jody Arlington, Anne Chaisson, Jon Gann, Tom Hall, Deirdre Haj, Lesli Klainberg, Kristin McCracken, Rosie Wong—Acting Board of Directors

Join an FFA Committee!


Now that the Film Festival Alliance is a stand-alone organization, we have a lot of work to do as a community. As such, we are pleased to announce the initial Committee structure discussed at the Art House Convergence. These committees will certainly shift and shimmy over time, but we identified these topics of immediate concern.

For the time being, acting board members will chair these committees; over time, however, we plan to engage a broader range of members in leadership positions. As well, we expect that each Committee will refine its individual mission over time.

Please note: Committees are open to Film Festival Alliance members in good standing.

Board Development, Governance & Membership

As the Film Festival Alliance transitions into a fully independent nonprofit, issues around governance and board development become more critical. We are currently considering new candidates for board of directors seats and looking to put a committee together to create a strategy around composition, recruitment, and duties and responsibilities. This committee would also be involved with researching and recommending governance policies and discussing and recommending potential amendments to the current bylaws.

Want to join? Contact Chair Colin Stanfield.


This far-reaching Committee will focus on issues that cut across film festivals both internally and externally. Some areas of focus will be standardizing how attendance is reported; ensuring that FFA member festivals have procedures to ensure fair treatment of filmmakers; and establishing base best practices for venues, submissions, and festival operations.

The Committee will also address external issues that film festivals, as a whole, need to respond to, such as AMPAS grant or qualification changes for festivals; ADA compliance in art houses or make-shift festival venues; theater safety concerns; and more.

It is important to note that the FFA currently neither requires nor has the resources to police these issues festival by festival. Therefore, this Committee will come up with a list of best practices that member festivals can agree to implement according to their budget level and resources; we will then determine if any reporting of errors on behalf of the festival can take place.

Want to join? Contact Chair Deirdre Haj.


Made up of film festivals nationwide, this Committee seeks to find funds for the Alliance and our member festivals, and also to identify and outline ways that festivals of all sizes can get access to much needed funding from national resources.

The Committee will also offer educational forums on development, detailing how to market your festival to patrons, members, sponsors, foundations and individuals.

Want to join? Contact Chair Anne Chaisson.

Membership Benefits

By working with partner festivals, companies and sponsors, the Benefits Committee seeks to create and establish a ongoing structure of membership benefits, opportunities, and privileges to be enjoyed by participating and current FFA members.

Want to join? Contact Co-Chairs Tom Hall and Rosie Wong.


This Committee will brainstorm, plan and develop diverse and wide-ranging programming—identifying topics and recruiting participants for panel discussions, presentations, roundtables and more—for the annual in-person gatherings of the Film Festival Alliance. These events currently include the annual Art House Convergence in January and IFP Film Week in September.

The Committee will also work with AHC to plan and develop regional conferences, which offer terrific opportunities for local festivals and theaters to connect and collaborate.

Throughout the year, the Committee will work with the Communications and Professional Development Committee to develop monthly webinars, white papers on best practices, and members-only forum discussions.

Want to join? Contact Chair Jon Gann.

Communications and Professional Development

This Committee will develop internal communications for the Alliance—including newsletters, website, social media and publicity. The Committee will also manage external communications, including press releases and broader public-facing messaging, on behalf of the Alliance’s ongoing organizational and advocacy work.

Throughout the year, the Committee will work with the Programming Committee to offer professional development, including but not limited to monthly webinars, white papers on best practices, and members-only forum discussions. In monthly calls, the Committee will identify areas of development of interest to our members, and recruit presenters, authors and moderators for these topics of discussion.

Want to join? Contact Co-Chairs Jody Arlington & Kristin McCracken.

2015 Film Festival Alliance @ IFP Film Week Agenda Announced

We have finalized the agenda for the Film Festival Alliance @ IFP Film Week, including seminars, presentations and networking opportunities. While Film Week runs from September 20-25, most of the festival-specific programming is scheduled for September 23-25; we hope you can join us!

Festivals receive 40% off the registration fee for IFP Film Week. Visit and use code ah$s to generate the discount.

Questions? Contact Industry Manager Jennifer Carpenter at

September 23-25
Lincoln Center
144 West 65th Street (map)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Festival Forum: Should Festivals Care About TV?
2:00 to 2:45 pm

Bruno Walter Auditorium – 111 Amsterdam Avenue
As filmmakers seize upon the creative and professional opportunities provided by episodic storytelling, both on network TV and online, film festivals have only just begun to incorporate this shift into their programming. But with the small screen often considered a traditional enemy of the big screen experience, can festivals find a meaningful relationship with TV storytelling? Does a festival’s mission of “serving the filmmaking community” extend to small screen content? And if so, how can festivals build a meaningful, competitive platform for TV while preserving the collective film-going experience that is at the heart of their missions? This panel examines the opportunities and issues surrounding the rapidly changing landscape of ambitious, cinematic storytelling.

Panelists: Terence Gray, Founder and Exec Director, NY Television Festival; Randi Kleiner, CEO of SeriesFest; Janet Pierson, Head of Film, SXSW; Amanda Warman, producer of The Outs and Whatever This Is; Moderated by Jody Arlington, Festival Forum

Meet the Festival Programmers: Narrative
Note time and location change!
3:30 to 5:30 pm (also on Thursday, 2:30-5:30) 

Rose Room | Rose Building: 70 Lincoln Center Plaza, 10th Floor
Meet with narrative feature, doc and web content creators, discovering them first before they’re on the circuit. These are filmmaker-selected meetings, so contact Zach Mandinach if you would like to represent your event at these small group meetings, which last approximately 15 minutes. Not all festivals can participate, and you must sign up for participation in advance of August 25. Register now for your festival to be considered for the roundtables. For more information, email Zach Mandinach at

Rooftop Films + IFP Labs “Sneak Peek” Showcase
7:00 to 10:00 pm

The Labs Showcase gives audiences a first-look at exciting new films before their festival premieres. This outdoor screening features excerpts from the 20 new films from the emerging talent of the 2015 IFP Labs, the nation’s only program that supports diverse feature filmmakers when they need it most: through the completion, marketing and distribution of their first features. Invite with details will be sent to registrants.

Thursday, September 24, 2015
Gilman Theater, Film Society of Lincoln Center

Welcome and Association Updates
9:00 to 9:30 am

Introducing the Film Festival Alliance and our 2016 programming and member-driven initiatives!

Love, Money, Youth: Your Festival’s Strategy Here!
9:30 am to 12:30 pm

While each film festival is unique in its own way, we all share similar challenges and opportunities. No matter what a single festival might look like, most are grappling with the same questions: how can we grow in esteem in the eyes of filmmakers and the industry? How can we secure more financial support to deliver on our best ideas and capitalize on creative opportunities? How can we reach younger audiences and build for the future? This two-part session will ask each attending delegate to introduce what makes your festival special and share your festival’s greatest challenge, followed by an open discussion of strategies and tactics that can help your organization become all that it can be.

Space is limited, so please register soon. Registrants will receive further instructions and a presentation template ASAP.

Kaplan Room | Rose Building: 70 Lincoln Center Plaza, 10th Floor

Note date, time and location change!
Meet the Festival Programmers: Documentary
2:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Meet with narrative feature, doc and web content creators, discovering them first before they’re on the circuit. These are filmmaker-selected meetings, so contact Zach Mandinach if you would like to represent your event at these small group meetings, which last approximately 15 minutes. Not all festivals can participate, and you must sign up for participation in advance of August 25. Register now for your festival to be considered for the roundtables. For more information, email Zach Mandinach at

IFP at Film Week 2015

We hope to see you there! In the meantime, please check out the Festival Alliance on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. 

Festival Alliance Programming Set for Art House Convergence 2016

The reviews are rave, the company is spectacular, and the shared knowledge is priceless.

Join festival colleagues from across the country (and beyond) for the only Festival Conference you need! Programming is set for the 2016 Art House ConvergenceJanuary 18-21 in Midway, UT, and we think you will find the far-ranging topics to be right up your alley.

Registration is now open!

AHC flyer 2AHC flyer 3AHC flyer 4

In the meantime, follow the Festival Alliance on Facebook and Twitter for ongoing conversations…

The ARTery Previewed Art House Convergence in Boston This Week!

Thanks to The ARTery for previewing this week’s Art House Convergence Regional Conference, held at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, MA.


One notable area of growth is among film festival leadership. Brian Tamm and Nancy Campbell, who respectively head up the executive function and program of the Independent Film Festival Boston (IFFBoston), attended this year’s Art House Convergence because of its track designed for festival staff by another national group, this time of film festivals, called IFP Festival Forum.

Festival Forum (currently a project of Independent Film Project; this fall it will become an independent nonprofit called Film Festival Alliance) joined forces with Art House Convergence and began programming at the annual gathering in 2014. This week marks the first time the entities will partner for a regional conference.

Collaborating with Festival Forum makes a lot of sense to Collins, who explains, “There’s karmic overlap and practical overlap, in terms of most festivals are housed in art house venues.”

Read the whole article here.


We had a fabulous time in Boston—special thanks to the Brian Tamm, Nancy Campbell, and Anna Feder for making local arrangements (dinner! karaoke!) on the ground. And the entire Coolidge Corner Theatre staff made us all feel welcome in their classically cinematic digs.

One highlight was the Festival Track Mixer, where we saw some old friends and (hopefully!) forged some new collaborations.

AHC Boston 1 AHC Boston 2 AHC Boston 3

We look forward to seeing many of you at IFP Film Week and the national Art House Convergence in January.

In the meantime, follow the Alliance on Facebook and Twitter for ongoing conversations, and check out the Film Festival Organizers private Facebook group, where pertinent questions are asked and answered everyday. Join us!

WATCH: Case Study Webinar on Annual Report as Ultimate Marketing Tool

Happy summer, fellow festival folks! As some of us find time to relax, others look at summer to find new ways to market the exciting work we do.

To that end, some of you may have noticed the stellar Annual Report recently disseminated by the Seattle International Film Festival. For our July 2015 webinar, we asked Carl Spence talk us through why the Annual Report is such a solid tool for SIFF.

Case Study Webinar: Annual Report as Ultimate Marketing Tool

Annual reports are all too frequently dry summaries presented to boards, then buried on a website. SIFF’s 2014 Annual Report is a masterful example of using the year-end report as a full bore marketing tool, hitting all stakeholder groups and utilizing all the visual and technical mobile bells and whistles. This was also SIFF’s 40th Anniversary. Carl Spence walked us through the strategy for this Annual report, and how it compared to reports in previous years.

In case you missed it, here’s the archived video of the online presentation. (Note: due to technical difficulties, some portions are missing; we apologize, but we think there’s still enough “there” there to give you the gist.)

Other things we considered included:

  • How long did it take to create? Did you outsource or go DIY style?
  • What service/design/web developer did you use?
  • What went into your creative brief/creative direction?
  • What other examples inspired you?
  • How involved was the board in the process?
  • What advice would you give to festivals for collecting and maintaining the data and details that count if they are doing something like this?
  • How important was the anniversary to the process?
  • What has been the feedback?
  • How are you using this beyond the blast?

We hope you can join us at our next webinar. In the meantime, follow the Alliance on Facebook and Twitter for ongoing conversations…

Registration Still Open for IFPFF @ Art House Convergence Regional Seminar

The IFP Festival Forum will be out in force August 12-13 at the Art House Convergence Regional Seminar in Boston, an opportunity for Festivals to sample Art House Convergence and Festival Track programming, and also forge deeper relationships with other festival organizers participating in Seminar.

What’s more, AHC has planned a terrific agenda, including pre-seminar tours of local art house institutions (Brattle! Coolidge! Somerville! Emerson!) and even the legendary Fenway Park (!).

Specific Festival track events are highlighted (highlit?) below.
Click here for full details and registration information.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Pre-Seminar Events

Daytime: Tours!

Evening: As part of the Festival Track, join festival organizers from DC Shorts, Hamptons, Film Society of Lincoln Center, SXSW and regional festivals to socialize, learn more about each other’s events and the forum.  Please email if you would like to participate in this dinner (location TBD; pay your own way, first drink on us!).

Thursday, August 13, 2015
Regional Seminar

8:00AM – 9:00AM: Check-in and Register

9:00AM – 9:30AM: Tour of the Coolidge Corner Theatre

9:30AM – 10:30AM: A Conversation with Technical Wizard Chapin Cutler

10:30AM – 11:30AM: Building Fundraising Muscle Within Your Organization
From capital campaigns to membership drives, fundraising is a necessity for non-profit art houses (and festivals!). Learn from several theaters on how to build and manage your development staff effectively, leverage your community impact, and cultivate your audience in order to build up your fundraising muscle, and increase your fundraising dollars.

11:30 – 12:30 PM: Festival Track Mixer
Bring a stack of your festival programs, brochures, post cards and stories, to share with other Festival organizers from around the region and beyond, for this informal meet-and-greet and information sharing session replete with refreshments and materials on upcoming Festival Forum activities, and an exploration of greater regional collaboration. Representatives from at least a dozen festivals in attendance!

11:30AM – 12:30PM: Single Screen Theaters: Making The Most of Your Single Screen

12:30PM – 1:30PM: Lunch

130-1:30PM – 2:30PM: Building A Culture of Great Service
 will be back again for a one-hour session focused on customer service. Learn how customer service begins within your organization and find out why it’s crucial to treat your staff with as much care as you treat your customers. With great techniques and new tools, you’ll leave with a refreshed perspective on your customer service and some plans for creating a more effective culture at your theater or festival.

2:30PM – 3:30PM: Session Five (TBA)

3:30PM – 5:00PM: Case Study of the Coolidge Corner Theatre

5:00PM – 6:30PM: Cocktail Reception at Osaka sponsored by Art House Cinema Solutions
Join us at Osaka Japanese Sushi & Steak House, across the street from the Coolidge, for drinks and sushi following the day’s sessions. Stop in for a drink before dinner or before heading back to the Coolidge for Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

Registration is now open. Hope to see you in Boston!

On the Horizon: IFP Film Week, Art House Convergence 2016

Though we’re deep in the throes of summer, don’t forget that the roller coaster of fall (into winter!) will be here before we know it. Please mark your calendars to join us at IFP Film Week and Art House Convergence. More info below. 

IFP Film Week logo

IFP Festival Forum at IFP Film Week 2015: September 20-25

Taking place concurrent to Independent Film Week each year, IFP Festival Forum is the leading gathering of international and U.S. film festival leadership. This professional association advocates for the needs and interests of film festival organizers and also provides a collaborative platform for members to develop curatorial and operational efficiencies, professional standards and best practices, and leverage their collective interests to the international film community.

Note: Key dates for IFPFF programming at Film Week are Wednesday through Friday, September 23-25. More details to come…

Forum Member Festivals receive 40% off registration! Use code ah$s to register today.

Art House Convergence photo

Art House Convergence 2016: January 18-21

As the largest annual gathering of Art House cinema and festival professionals, community leaders, service providers and suppliers, the conference attracts participants from across the world. By defining our field, creating a shared vision and vocabulary, and identifying best practices, the educational components of the Convergence’s annual conference strengthen efforts to sustain Art House cinemas and film festivals of various sizes, operating structures and programming philosophies.

Our tentative schedule includes programming around submissions, income, fundraising pitches, staffing, projection and much, more more!

Registration is now open!

We hope to see you at these invaluable events. In the meantime, please join our community on Facebook and Twitter, and check out archived webinars on YouTube

Member Profile: Jacqui Lofaro, Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Festival

Jacqui Lofaro

Jacqui Lofaro is the Founder and Executive Director of the Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Festival (HT2FF). 

An award-winning documentary filmmaker based in Bridgehampton, Long Island, New York, Jacqui Lofaro produced/directed The Empty Chair: Death Penalty Yes or Nothe recipient of the 2006 prestigious Thurgood Marshall Broadcast Journalism Award. The companion documentary 70 x 7: the Forgiveness Equation was invited for screening at the National Coalition Against the Death Penalty conference, the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, and the Global Peace Film Festival. In 2009, The Last Fix: An Addict’s Passage from Hell to Hope, a feature documentary on drug addiction, a problem of epic proportion, premiered at the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.

What are you working on?

Right now we are screening submissions for our early December film festival. Also, my Advisory Board is selecting the honoree for the ‘Career Achievement” award presented at our Gala event. In the past we have honored Richard Leacock, Susan Lacy, D A Pennebaker / Chris Hegedus, and Barbara Kopple.

A-Ha Moment

Eight years ago, along with many other hopeful artists, I submitted my documentary film to a major film festival and it didn’t make the cut. But there were no sour grapes. It was just the motivation I needed to launch an alternative festival—a more inclusive one that offered a ‘second chance’ to filmmakers whose work deserved a screening, a ‘take 2’ as they say in the movie business. And so the Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival was born.

In Training

I founded and ran a boutique advertising agency in New York City, where our expertise was creating and producing corporate promotional video films. I believed then, as I do now, that moving images communicate better and more effectively. Several of our films won industry awards. So I didn’t need any convincing about the medium of film; it was the subject matter that changed.

When I left NYC and relocated to the East End of Long Island I began making short environmental pieces, and that shift in focus led me to social justice issues. My first feature documentary took up the subject of the death penalty: The Empty Chair: Death Penalty Yes or No. It went on to receive the prestigious Thurgood Marshall Broadcast Journalism Award.

Equipment/Software Must Haves

The single most important tool in the toolbox to have if you are running a film festival is a strong belief in the genre. Our humanity is the raw material for documentarians to shape into films. Whatever the subject, they reach the frontal cortex of the brains, an area that moves people, sometimes into action. Other tools are the same everyone needs for success: leadership, perseverance, good budgeting skills, and even better people skills.

My Mentor

Gandhi. He was a creative thinker who solved problems by thinking outside the box. A few of his strategies and virtues resonate with me: faith in oneself, resistance and persistence, learning from mistakes, truthfulness, and finally, take the first steps and do it.

Biggest Challenge

Always, raising enough funds! To expand, bring filmmakers to the festival, pay consultants, advertise and promote. The list expands as our festival expands. The challenge is to persuade sponsors that supporting the arts and independent filmmaking is as important as any other investment. The profit from investing in the arts is more intangible. It doesn’t always show up in the bottom line. But it does show up in helping shape a richer society.

Best Advice

As a filmmaker, I was struggling to end a documentary. It was a question of letting go of ‘my baby.’ One day when a fellow documentarian said, ‘Just end it,’ I realized that was the push I needed.

The best advice for a film festival is to understand that it takes time to build a loyal and committed audience. It takes several years for people to know you’ll be around. A consultant said, ‘Be patient.’ I learned to be… but also to be persistent.

Greatest Accomplishment as a Festival

To keep this festival going and thriving for eight years, and holding it at a time of the year when folks need a really good motivator to leave their warm homes and come out to the movie theater, especially when it snows. But they come.

About HT2FF

The Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival, now in its 8th year, builds community around the art of visual storytelling. The festival celebrates the documentary genre and supports documentary filmmakers both upcoming and established. Community response assures us of a preference and appreciation for quality documentary films. We are known as the ‘art house’ festival presenting 4 days of emerging premieres and award-winning documentaries, shorts, features and student submissions. These fill our “all docs all day” mission coupled with insightful and stimulating Q/A talks after each screening.

Our annual gala event honors legendary documentary filmmakers and have included luminaries such as Richard Leacock, the master of direct cinema; Susan Lacy, creator of WNET/PBS American Masters and currently producing for HBO Documentary; the dynamic and pioneering documentary team of D A Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus; Barbara Kopple and her 40+year career of Academy-award winning films.

Our Filmmaker’s Choice Award is a peer selection that celebrates one of its own esteemed documentarians. And our Audience Award presents a sponsored cash prize to both the best feature and short films in the festival.

The Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival has carved out a special segment in the film festival dedicated exclusively for middle school and high school students to document and share stories. Screening their films in a theater, on the big movie screen with a live audience is our festival’s way of sprouting careers in media arts.

We are a year-round community presence with seasonal screenings of important documentary films in Spring and Fall. We also launched a very successful Library Outreach program providing festival films to East End libraries to screen for members.

Member Profile: Anisa Raoof, Providence Children’s Film Festival

Anisa Raoof

Anisa Raoof is the Executive Director of the Providence Children’s Film Festival (PCFF). 

Anisa has a passion for film, design, community, and education. A firm believer in the power of collaboration, Anisa brings her entrepreneurial experience, social media savvy, and love for storytelling and moving images to her new job as Executive Director of the Providence Children’s Film Festival.

What are you working on?
Planning the 2016 festival: everything including the marketing, scheduling, new venue logistics, special event planning, fundraising, forming new community partnerships, grant writing, training new contract staff and finding a way to make an 8-day week.

A-Ha Moment
My a-ha moment was deciding whether to apply for the job as Executive Director of an organization that was in transition, moving from an all working volunteer board to a more sustainable model of staff and board just six months before the 2014 Festival. I had been a media partner of the festival since it started and a board member for 2 1/2 years.

Nervous about the challenges of limited resources and a festival to plan, but excited by the unique opportunity to help lead an organization and popular family film festival that was poised to make long lasting impact on the community, I seized the moment and applied for the position. Less sleep these days but no regrets.

In Training
Having no formal film or business training, I gathered my experience along the way from past entrepreneurial community building projects and learning from others in formal and informal settings. I have been passionate about film and creative storytelling since I was child.

Equipment/Software Must Haves
Laptop, iPhone, Dropbox, Vimeo, and a good cup of coffee.

My Mentor
My elementary school art teacher was joyful, colorful, and passionate about art. She created a space in her classroom that was welcoming, educational and inspiring. She shared her enthusiasm for life, her knowledge of the craft, how to work well with others, and the behind-the-scenes responsibilities needed to make the magic happen. The skills I learned from her—a good work ethic, a positive attitude, her creative energy and the fact she seemed to live and do what she loved—have stayed with me.

Biggest Challenge
My biggest challenge was trying to plan the 2014 festival after being officially on the job six months while navigating an organizational change… while raising money to cover staffing and the festival. It was crazy, but in the end the festival was a success and the attendees thought everything was flawless!

In general the challenge is doing what we do on a shoestring and learning the job along the way. We have relied mainly on volunteers since the beginning and only within the last 2 years have we added some part-time staff (who technically do not work part-time…). We do not own our venues for the festival but rely on renting spaces, working with other organizations and dealing with crazy winter weather.

Best Advice
Surround yourself with smart, passionate, enthusiastic people who love what they do and good things will happen. Life is too short to be around negative people who do not believe in what they do or strive for excellence whenever possible. Also: partnerships are important—when paired well, collaborations can elevate / amplify what we do rather than compete / detract from our mission.

To broaden the reach of our programming beyond February, we have cultivated and expanded collaborations with peer organizations in Rhode Island to provide screenings and other opportunities for youth to learn from and engage with film. Youth-oriented partner organizations include AS220, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Providence, Providence Children’s Museum, Providence CityArts, Providence Athenaeum Children’s Library, Rhode Island Museum of Science and Arts (RIMOSA), Providence Community Library, RIOLIS, and the RISD Museum.

About PCFF

PCFF presents the best of independent and international children’s cinema to inspire, delight, educate, and connect a diverse community of children and families from Rhode Island and throughout New England. The annual festival takes place in February at multiple venues within walking distance of downtown Providence, with over ten days of screenings, film-making workshops, and free activities, along with post-film conversations that help deepen the film-watching experience and foster critical thinking skills. During the festival, PCFF screens an average of 18 feature-length and over 100 short films—including live-action, documentary, and animation—made by filmmakers from around the world.

Beginning in 2014, PCFF added the Youth Filmmaker Showcase, a juried program of films made by youth, followed by an opportunity for young filmmakers to talk about both the fun and the challenges they face during the creative process.

In addition to the annual festival, the organization partners and/or collaborates with a growing number of community youth organizations to offer year-round educational opportunities, where children and families can learn about the history of the medium and its critical context, as well as the craft of filmmaking, through after-school programs, hands-on workshops, and film-related presentations.

Read This: ‘Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Arts Management’

“Committing to diversity in arts organizations is not about checking off a box, filling up a diversity quota, or reaching out to the few people of color that you know. It is about establishing an organizational commitment to diversity advancement. Adopting an organization-wide way of thinking that welcomes diverse experiences and backgrounds will only uplift the potential an organization has to thrive.”

— Read more of Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Arts Management: An Exposé and Guide on

WATCH: Wrap Reports Webinar

Every month, IFP Festival Forum hosts a webinar on a topic that will make your festival life easier, happier, and more productive.

This month: Rosie Wong (Associate Director of Industry and Alumni Relations, Sundance Institute) walked us through the best thing (daunting though it may be!) you can do for the future of your festival: how to assign, write and gather all-encompassing wrap reports.

Taking Down the Circus Tent: Wrap Reports 101

Having your staff write wrap reports is probably the most vital thing to planning your next edition. This is when they can include what they think went right, what didn’t, how to improve for next year—all crucial information for the year(s) to come. We discuss what makes a good wrap report and what kind of information you should ask for from your staff in order to ensure you’re on the right track for planning and improving upon future festivals!

Moderator: Rosie Wong, Sundance Film Festival

To receive access to sample wrap reports, please visit our Google Group. (If you are not already a member, please request access.)

We hope you’ll join us next time! In the meantime, join us on Facebook and Twitter for ongoing conversations and updates…

Membership Case Study: Advocacy (Woods Hole Film Festival)

Judy Laster
Executive Director, Woods Hole Film Festival
Cape Cod

Being a good advocate takes time and effort, but the results can be rewarding.

While we in the Festival world understand and value what we do and what we offer to our local, regional and state communities, we can’t assume that others share our enthusiasm or understanding. The best way to bring people along and to convert them into supporters is by first hand experience.

Invite them to your events and follow up afterwards to thank them for coming.

At the local level, it is important to know your civic leaders (Mayor or Selectmen) and business leaders and Chambers of Commerce.

If your town has an Arts or Tourism Council, get involved and stay involved. Become indispensable. In addition to providing them detailed information about the Festival, paint the picture of how your Festival fits into the fabric of the community from a financial, social and reputation perspective.

For example, in 2014, Woods Hole was deemed to be one of the best small towns in the United States for culture by Smithsonian Magazine, and the Festival was a determining factor in their calculus.

Understand the issues in the Community and try to develop programming that is responsive or complimentary to the broader concerns; this helps to create an ownership stake for residents and business leaders.

At the state level, understand that your local state rep or senator has many, many issues to consider. While an in-person meeting is a great idea, developing relationships with their staff is important as well. And keeping staff briefed will help to pave the way when it comes time for budget decision-making.

In Massachusetts, there are also several statewide advocacy organizations that focus on arts and arts funding. Mass Creative is a non-profit that helps inform legislators on issues related to arts and culture, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council—a state grant funding organization—does as well. We make sure their leaders know our story.

We also participate in the broader film community organizations, particularly the Massachusetts Production Coalition, which focuses on advocacy around film and the film tax credit.

We have and maintain a relationship with the state film office, and we keep emphasizing the importance of Festivals to them as well, although they don’t really have much ability to help financially. (However, at this past Sundance, they were able to make introductions to Massachusetts filmmakers whose work was in the Festival.)

Finally, when appropriate, be a thought leader through op-eds or other public forums.

Our philosophy: a rising tide floats all boats. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.

Have an idea for a case study? Email us with a proposal!

WATCH: Sponsorship Webinar

In our March webinar, Anne Chaisson (Executive Director, Hamptons International Film Festival) walked us through the year-round process of finding the right partners who can help our festivals reach their full potential.

Sponsorship: Finding the Right Partners

This roundtable discussion centered around creating tailored and lasting sponsorship partners for your film festival. Hear how other film festivals of all shapes and sizes have found local, regional and national partners and parlayed those relationships into multi-year sponsorships. 

In case you missed it, check out the full webinar, archived on YouTube (scroll to :35 for the actual start!):

Download the PDF presentation here.
Sample Sponsor Wrap Report to come!

Check out the full range of our archived webinars here, and please join us for our next webinar. Details to follow…

Takeaways: Art House Convergence 2015

If you weren’t able to join us at the 2015 Art House Convergence in Midway, Utah (or even if you were!), please check out the following takeaways from our roundtable discussions, panels, and more. (More materials will be added as they become available.)

Roundtable Discussions (downloadable PDFs)

♦ Social Media & Guerrilla Marketing (& Merchandise!)

♦ Board Issues

♦ Staffing Issues

♦ Small Budgets, Big Events

♦ Ticketing Solutions

♦ Publications

♦ Sponsorship

Legal Clinic

♦ Listen on Soundcloud

Social Media Documents

Social Media for Filmmakers (sample)

Social Media for Sponsors (sample)

Social Media for Staff (sample)

Join us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for ongoing learning and conversations…

WATCH: Wrangling the Rush Line Webinar

In our February webinar, Tom Hall (currently at Montclair Film Festival, formerly at Sarasota, among others) walked us through the delicate balance of line wrangling, including rush ticket policies, volunteer training, etc.

Wrangling the Line: Rush Tickets, Waitlists and More

Tickets, passes, packages, VIPs and sold out screenings—making sure you maximize your audience and keep them happy is the key to a successful festival. This discussion will focus on decisions and strategies for helping you manage your lines and patrons, making sure you have smiling customers and full theaters!

In case you missed it, check out the full webinar, archived on YouTube (scroll to 3:17 for the actual start!):

Takeaway: download the PDF presentation here.

Check out the full range of our archived webinars here, and please join us for our next webinar:

Sponsorship: Finding the Right Partners

Tuesday, March 31
2:00 pm ET / 11:00 am PT
Moderator: Anne Chaisson, Hamptons International Film Festival

We hope you’ll join us! In the meantime, join us on Facebook and Twitter for ongoing conversations…

Film Festivals Converged with Art Houses at High Altitude

Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? If you’re like us, you’re still on a (re-oxygenated) high from the jam-packed trip to the mountains of Utah—a double dose of Art House Convergence and Sundance. If you’re lucky, you avoided the Park City Flu, and came back refreshed and ready to tackle another productive year of festival planning…

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we want to thank you all for your enthusiastic participation, your friendly good nature, and your endless stream of ideas. We always learn so well from each other—our collective knowledge is unstoppable—and we are energized by the camaraderie that comes from sharing our experiences. (It’s so good to know we are not alone!)

What came out of our Convergence? In addition to friendships forged and renewed, we have a few big announcements to share:

1. In the coming months, our organization will make the transition to an independent and vocal organization with a new name: we will soon become the Film Festival Alliance. As a community, we will benefit from strength in numbers as we advocate for best practices and symbiotic relationships with filmmakers and distributors.

2. What’s more, membership in the Film Festival Alliance just got a bit sweeter: entertainment legal eagles Michael Donaldson and Corey Field have offered their services as a first line of defense, should any of our member organizations face an unforeseen legal hurdle. This is huge.

Reminder: If you have not yet officially joined the IFP Festival Forum, what are you waiting for? (Membership will transition to the new organization automatically.)

During our time together, our panels—including a legal clinic from Donaldson and Field—covered the gamut, from rush lines to hospitality to Oscars to board management and beyond. Our roundtable discussions were especially fruitful this year, centering on topics such as social media, sponsorship, ticketing, tech, the (dreaded) program guide, and making the most of a small budget.

Once we got to Park City, we of course reconvened in line for Press & Industry screenings, and gathered more formally at what has becoming an annual tradition: our colleagues at the Sundance Film Festival showed off their terrific hospitality, hosting festival organizers at an intimate brunch last Tuesday. (Thank you!)

All of these conversations will continue throughout the year; we’re just getting started. In the weeks to come, we will compile the learnings from our various sessions, sharing the wealth with those who weren’t able to attend and serving as a concrete refresher (and to-do list) for the rest of us. Please stay tuned, and keep in touch on Facebook and Twitter, in addition to the comments selection below.

We’ve got a lot of work to do, and it’s easier to do it together. Happy New Year!

Join the Forum!

We’re looking for a few good festivals.

If we’ve learned anything over the past several years, it’s the fact that our power comes from our diversity: small festivals, large festivals, year-round showcases, three-day events. Each and every one of our member festivals brings something to the table, and we all learn best when learning from each other.

As we move into our next phase of existence (as the Film Festival Alliance; read more here), we know that strength in numbers is key. That means we need YOU.

Click here to join today!

What are you waiting for? Join today. Note: Membership will transition to the new organization automatically.

We can’t wait to have you (officially) on board!

Webinars to Dive Deeper into Roundtable Topics: Save the Dates

Are we all in agreement that the roundtables at Art House Convergence gave us barely enough time to scratch the surface on the juicy topics we tackled? We hope so, because we’ve lined up our next couple of webinars, where we hope to dive a little deeper and share some of our best practices around popular issues.

Please mark your calendars and look for further details in your inbox in the coming weeks.

Wrangling the Line: Rush Tickets, Waitlists and More

Tuesday, February 24
2:00 pm ET / 11:00 am PT
Moderator: Tom Hall, Montclair Film Festival

Sponsorship: Finding the Right Partners

Tuesday, March 31
2:00 pm ET / 11:00 am PT
Moderator: Anne Chaisson, Hamptons International Film Festival

Registration for all webinars is free; detailed instructions will be mailed when you RSVP.

Festival Operational Survey: Initial Findings + It’s Not Too Late to Participate!

Last fall we launched our first Annual Festival Operational Benchmark Survey, designed as an invaluable tool for our organization as we move forward into our new iteration as the Film Festival Alliance (read more!). Most importantly:

Who are we? What do we value? What can we learn? What can we contribute?

So far, we’ve started to see some interesting trends. We are curious to see how these change as we gather more data:

While we have gathered initial findings from our first round of participants*, we would like to round out our sample even more. To that end, we have extended the survey deadline to April 15. If you have not done so, please complete the survey before that date. .

The survey results will be an invaluable tool as the Alliance moves forward, and we need maximum participation. Though most industries conduct surveys of this kind, our industry never has, and the results will be instrumental for many of you to apply for grants, negotiate with sponsors, build your boards, and drive strategic and operational decision-making.

Remember, we are only looking for only one submission per festival. While you are working on the survey, you can stop at any time and come back to it later. The survey program will resume wherever you last stopped.

Click here to go directly to the survey!

*Thanks a million to those members who participated in the first round. Initial participants were eligible for festival passes and cash awards, and winners included Napa Valley Film Festival, Berkshire International Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival, Human Rights Watch Film Festival and Frameline!

Transparency Project Announced: How Can We Help?

As the landscape of the business side of filmmaking—distribution, platforms, revenue streams—becomes more and more murky, Sundance Institute, Cinereach, and other organizations have launched The Transparency Project to counteract the complexity. Recently previewed at Art House Convergence and launched at Sundance, IFP Festival Forum has come on board as a collaborator in this nonprofit initiative, which explains itself with the following motto:

We empower filmmakers by creating tools to analyze independent films’ financial data.

As Anne Thompson outlines in her detailed piece introducing the project, the “goal is to collect and share current data on both revenue and expenses for independent film distribution in order to help filmmakers be more creative and efficient in funding, marketing and releasing their work.”

For the project to actually work, the filmmaking community (filmmakers, distributors and exhibitors—including film festivals, where applicable) needs to participate by submitting data about individual projects, specific production factors, and detailed revenue numbers.

So far, the following non-profits have come on board as collaborators, in addition to IFP Festival Forum:

Arthouse Convergence |Austin Film Society | Britdoc | IDA | IFP | ITVS | The Film Collaborative | FIND | POV | San Francisco Film Society | Tribeca Film Institute |WGA East | Film Society of Lincoln Center

In addition, the following “for-profit distributors and industry leaders have expressed their support of mission”:

Alchemy | Amplify | Bond 360 | Brainstorm | Cinedigm | Cinetic | Film Movement | Ocilloscope | Paladin | Preferred | Premiere Digital Services | Radius | Roco | Tribeca Film | Vimeo | VHX

For the project to take root and succeed in empowering the film community, all parties must agree to provide input. “The website is still being designed and updated,” Thompson explains, “but the idea is to fill in your budget and cast levels and genres, and when relevant, reviews and festival exposure, to see what numbers comparable projects obtained using different release platforms. The numbers will not—initially—reflect individual returns on iTunes, Hulu, Amazon etc., but rather throw them all into the same online platform bucket.”

We encourage all IFP Festival Forum members to become more acquainted with the project. Together, we can make a collective difference.

First step: Please read Anne Thompson’s full article by clicking on the following image.

Second, sign up for their mailing list, and get involved.

And please: let us know what you think, either via the comments section below, on Facebook or Twitter, or via email.

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays to all our festival friends and family!

In the coming year, we look forward to many more opportunities to learn, grow and network together.

Wishing you and your colleagues a fruitful 2015 of healthy growth, increased budgets, enthusiastic audiences, and award-winning films… What more could a festival ask for?

— IFP Festival Forum

WATCH the December Webinar with Ira Deutchman: Can Festivals Afford Not to Converge?

If you missed our webinar, you can watch the archived version below!

Festivals: Can You Afford Not to Converge?

Have you already signed up to join the arthouse theater community and fellow festival staff at Art House Convergence 2015? Or are you still on the fence? Either way, our December webinar makes the case for why AHC is a can’t-afford-to-miss pre-game for your Sundance experience… and why it’s worth even a stand-alone trip out west in January!

Reason #1: Daily festival-specific panels

Reason #2: The extraordinary networking opportunities

Reason #3: The chance to learn what you need to know to make your festival a success

Ira Deutchman is the Managing Partner of Emerging Pictures, a New York-based digital exhibition company. He is also Chair of the Film Program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Ira was the keynote speaker at last year’s AHC—which art house professionals and film festival staff alike agree was an unprecedented success—which makes him the perfect person to provide the skinny on the conference. As our guest at the webinar, he spoke to the practical benefits of attending AHC and also the extraordinary opportunity to discuss topics at the forefront of the ongoing developments in our dynamic industry.

In addition, IFP Festival Forum Executive Committee members Jody Arlington, Colin Stanfield, Kristin McCracken and Chris Holland walked us through logistics, the attendee list, and the contextualized agenda we have planned for our 3+ days together.

Note: If you’re ready to register for Art House Convergence now, remember to use code IFP2015 to receive the early bird registration rate through December 31. Register here. 

Hope to see you in Utah!

Are You Deploying Effective Practices for Successful Audience Engagement?

Film Festivals, like arts organizations across the country, are experimenting with new ways to fulfill their missions and keep—if not expand—their audiences, at a time when consumers have more choices than ever before. The Wallace Foundation recently partnered with the American Alliance of Museums and six other nonprofit arts service organizations to share the principles for reaching and retaining new audiences in The Road to Results: Effective Practices for Building Arts Audiences, by Bob Harlow. Following are some excerpts from the report, courtesy of our AAM colleagues:

Recognizing When Change Is Needed.
Organizations saw a pattern of audience behavior that presented an opportunity or a challenge for their financial viability, artistic viability, or both. They recognized that change was necessary to seize this opportunity or overcome the challenge. In some cases, the urgency of the challenge or opportunity actually served the initiative by keeping it front and center, capturing and sustaining the attention of the entire organization over the years needed to build a following.

Determining What Kinds of Barriers Need to Be Removed.
Successful organizations identified the types of barriers impeding the target audience’s participation and shaped their strategies accordingly.

Thinking Through the Relationship.
Some case study organizations went so far as to spell out a vision of the relationship they wanted to cultivate with the new audience, including specific roles for the audience and themselves. By doing so, they gave their audience-building initiatives structure and a sense of purpose. Leaders and staff members understood how they wanted the audience to interact with their organization and developed programs to fulfill that vision.

Providing Multiple Ways In.
Staff expanded the ways people could access their organizations both literally and psychologically. Many organizations provided gateway experiences to acquaint newcomers with their activities. Others generated interest by making connections to things that their target audience already knew or by showing them different sides of their institutions.

Check out the full report: The Road to Results: Effective Practices for Building Arts Audiences.

Have a success story? We’d love to share it with the wider festival audience.
Drop us a line at

Look Who’s Coming to Art House Convergence 2015!

One of the great things about Art House Convergence is that you can take half your planned Sundance meetings with distributors and other colleagues in a casual and convivial setting, before 40,000 others with the same idea descend on Park City. Join your festival and film society colleagues (bolded in the list below) for a conference you don’t want to miss!

On the fence about joining us in Utah? Learn more in our upcoming webinar!

If you’re ready to register now, use code IFP2015 to receive the early bird registration rate through December 31. Register here. 

4th Row Films
a/perture cinema
Alamo Drafthouse
Americans for the Arts
Amherst Cinema
Animas City Theatre
Arena Cinema Hollywood
Arts Alliance Ltd
Aspen Film
Athena Cinema
Avalon Theatre

Balcony Booking
Ballantyne Strong, Inc.
Bama Theatre
Belcourt Theatre
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Boston Underground Film Festival
Bryn Mawr Film Institute

California Film Institute
Camera Cinemas
Cape Cinema
Capri Theatre
The Cary Theater
Casablanca Ventures
Chatham Film Club & Crandell Theatre
Chincoteaguer Island Arts Organization
CICAE – International Confederation of Art Cinemas
Cinema Arts Centre
Cinema Center
Cinema Falls
Circle Cinema
Clinton Street Theater
The Clover Theater
Cohen Media Group
The Colonial Theatre
Coolidge Corner Theatre
Coral Gables Art Cinema
Cornerhouse and HOME

DC Shorts Film Festival
Dealflicks Inc
Dedham Community Theatre
Denver Film Society
Distrib Films

Egyptian Theatre Preservation Association
Enzian Theater
EW Booking

Film Forum
Film Hub North
Film Society of Lincoln Center
Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul
Film Streams at the Ruth Sokolof Theater
Fractured Atlas
The Frida Cinema
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival

Gateway Film Center
Gold Town Theater
The Grand Cinema

Hammond Entertainment
Hamptons International Film Festival
Hollywood Theatre
Honolulu Museum of Art Doris Duke Theatre
Hopkins Center Film
Hot Docs

IDP/Samuel Goldwyn Films
IFC Center
IFP Festival Forum
Images Cinema
Independent Film Festival Boston (IFFBoston)
Indiana University Cinema

Jacob Burns Film Center
Jacobs Entertainment Inc
Jane Pickens Theater & Event Center
Janus Films

Kalamazoo Film Society
Kristin McCracken, Former VP Tribeca

Lark Theater
Lefont Theaters/Lefont Film Society
Living Room Theaters
Loft Cinema, Inc.

Magic Theatre
Magna-Tech Electronic
Maiden Alley Cinema
Majestic Theatre
Manhattan Short Film Festival
Maroon Peaks Entertainment
Martha’s Vineyard Film Center
Mary D. Fisher Theatre and Sedona International Film Festival
Maryland Film Festival
Merrill Theatre Corp.
Michigan Theater
Monclair Film Festival
Monument Releasing
Mortell Development Inc.
Movies of Delray
Moxie Cinema

New Orleans Film Festival
Nickelodeon Theatre
The North Group Inc.

Pacific Film Resources
Park Circus Limited
Park City Film Series
Participant Media
Philadelphia Film Society
Pickford Film Center
Picturehouse Entertainment
Pittsburgh Filmmakers
ProludioRagtag Cinema

Ready Theatre Systems
Real Art Ways
Renew Theaters
Riverrun Film Festival
Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Institute

Salem Cinema
San Francisco Film Society
San Francisco Indie Fest
Shoreline Entertainment
State Theatre of Modesto
Studio Movie Grill
Summerfield Cinemas

Tallgrass Film Association
Tampa TheatreThe Moviehouse
Theatre Properties Corp
Toronto International Film Festival
Tropic Cinema
True/False Film Fest

The United Theatre
Utah Film Center

Westport Cinema Initiative
Wilmette Theatre
Woods Hole Film Festival


IFP Festival Forum Responds to DOJ Proposal on ADA Compliance in Movie Theaters

In response to the recent proposal by the Department of Justice that “would explicitly require movie theaters to exhibit movies with closed captioning and audio description at all times and for all showings…,” the IFP Festival Forum has submitted the following comment. 

(You can download the full comment here.)

Before the
Department of Justice

In the Matter of Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations—Movie Theaters; Movie Captioning and Audio Description 



)   CRT Docket No. 12

)   AG Order No. 3449-2014

)   RIN 1190-AA63






Submitted By:
Jody Arlington
Acting Director
IFP Festival Forum
3121 South Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007
November 29, 2014


The IFP Festival Forum is a professional association that advocates for the needs and interests of Film Festivals and their organizers. We provide a collaborative platform for members to develop and share operational and curatorial efficiencies, set professional standards, and establish best practices. The Forum serves the collective priorities of its membership while leveraging its leadership, expertise, and vision within the international film community and the broader cultural landscape. Founded in 2010, the Forum serves more than 200 U.S. & International festival programmers and executives.

We are also tightly knit with a coalition of filmmaker organizations devoted to the support and advocacy of independent documentary and narrative filmmaking and the media arts, which serves over 400,000 filmmakers and media professionals nationwide.

While there is not a definitive number of Film Festivals in the United States, a recent study calculated 2,000 US Festivals, representing 40% of the approximately 5,000 global film festivals[1].

Similarly, the definition of a film festival is also not settled, but for the purposes of this comment, a festival can be as ambitious as a month long event screening hundreds of films in twenty theaters across a city or region, to a one to three day event in a library, university, convention center, hotel ballroom or outdoor tent.

The current proposed rule would explicitly require movie theaters to exhibit movies with closed captioning and audio description at all times and for all showings whenever movies are produced, distributed, or otherwise made available with captioning and audio description unless to do so would result in an undue burden or fundamental alteration to serve patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing or blind or have low vision.

Film Festivals by their very nature want to attract the widest audiences possible, and are supportive of the widest availability of technologies and training that will support accessibility to cinema for all Americans. But as written, without clarity for film festivals, the order could potentially create undue financial and logistical burdens on festivals, or result in destabilizing uncertainty among the field, non-traditional theatrical venues, filmmakers and audiences.

Film Festivals often provide a platform for independent filmmakers to find an audience and distribution. Therefore the Film Festival exhibition can take place before the film has received funding. Once a film has attended a Film Festival and is fortunate enough to be acquired by a distribution entity the film may go through several edits before being ready to present in a commercial setting. We laud the DOJ for not requiring festivals to bear the cost of encoding for closed captioning nor place this cost on independent filmmakers, which could lead festivals to reject most films due to time and finances. In any of these circumstances, this would represent an undue burden on both the Film Festivals and independent filmmakers.

We respectfully urge the DOJ to consider the following actions to ensure the new rules, which we support for commercial theaters, do not inadvertently stifle film festival culture, or create needless misunderstandings within the film festival industry, their vendors and audiences.

The DOJ should consider explicitly exempting film festivals to prevent undue logistical and financial burdens, or confusion about compliance for temporary exhibition events.

Most film festivals, even those that are presented under the direction of a year-round non-profit film society, institute or even art house theater, face intense logistical challenges as these events come together at the last minute, usually four to five weeks before opening, with short term temporary and volunteer festival staff. Most films are presented before they have been acquired for distribution and are not encoded with closed captioning and/or audio. But sometimes they are encoded. While every effort might be made to schedule an encoded film in an accessible-ready theater, the realities of scheduling are based on filmmaker availability to attend, size of theater appropriate for the anticipated popularity of the film, and even managing different exhibition capabilities and film lengths across multiple venues. The rule as written would not exempt a festival from showing an accessible coded film in a non-accessible theater, which might result in the film not being programmed, or otherwise unduly influence the artistic choices of programmers who are best suited to cater to the interests and needs of their local audiences.

The DOJ should make explicit much earlier in the rule its definition of a movie theater to include only “facilities used primarily for the purpose of showing movies to the public for a fee” to prevent festivals, temporary venues and even audience confusion.

Currently, festival organizers, venue operators and audiences discover that the rule doesn’t apply to temporary venues only after reading through the DOJ’s history of the moving image, analysis of audiences, financial models, and technical descriptions of equipment and systems for the blind, deaf, low-vision, or low-hearing audiences.

The majority of film festivals rely on more than just movie theaters. They utilize hotel ballrooms, armories, convention centers, tents, outdoor screens and even cafés for venues. We applaud the DOJ for recognizing and exempting these temporary venues, so that libraries, hotels and convention centers that rarely show films will continue to make their venues available to festivals and other exhibitions without undue burden. More clarity on this point ensures that these venues continue to make themselves available to festivals, and festivals make films available to the widest audiences.

The DOJ should calculate audiences by average attendance, not available seats, when determining how many devices a venue should purchase.

Festivals work hand in hand with their venues, whether art houses, commercial theater chains or alternative venues. We echo the Art House Convergence and National Association of Theater Owners concerns on the formula that the DOJ currently deploys to determine number of devices for theaters. It should not be based on number of seats, but on average daily weekend attendance, to reflect actual audiences, not maximum potential audiences. The current calculation by number of seats per theater to calculate number of required devices leads to unnecessary expenditures without providing any real enhancement of accessibility for the disabled. Yet that money is critically important to Festival groups and art houses that have small budgets and need more money to promote their important mission.

For its part, the Festival Forum will explore best practices for our members to better communicate on accessibility issues with their audiences, and train temporary staff in the use of equipment in venues where they might be called upon to assist with the operation of such devices. We would support any efforts to help independent filmmakers afford encoding so that larger audiences can experience their films.

[1] See Fallows, Stephen, The Truths Behind Film Festivals (2013), available at

Art House Convergence Schedule Live Today!

The Art House Convergence full schedule is now live, and you don’t want to miss this year’s event. We’ve programmed the sessions based on your interests and are commingled across the conference. We’ve pulled out some of the festival-specific programming below.


Festival-Specific Programming

Welcome Keynote
Tuesday, January 20 | 9:00 – 9:50 a.m.

New to the Conference? New to the Art House and Festival Forum world? Come meet some of your fellow colleagues in this informal session about how to get the most out of your four days of the 2015 Art House Convergence.
With Russ Collins (Michigan Theater), Stephanie Silverman (Belcourt Theater) and Jody Arlington (IFP Festival Forum).

Festival Roundtables
Tuesday, January 20 | 10:00 – 10:50 a.m.
Join your peers at one of the structured Roundtable discussions. Every day, topics will be discussed at multiple tables, each moderated by a member of the Festival Forum. Notes will be shared among all Art House Convergence attendees. Bring your best tips and suggestions, as well as the tough issues you want addressed.

•  Social Media and Guerrilla Marketing
•  Tech and Projection Issues
•  Board Activation and Staff Motivation

Festivals and Oscars: A Dynamic Duo
Tuesday, January 20 | 3:00 – 3:50 p.m.

Festivals have become the default distribution model for most independent films. Learn how the Oscars, together with key events, help to extend the buzz for many films—and how your event can benefit from the national exposure.
With Tom Oyer, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Festival Roundtables
Tuesday, January 20 | 4:00 – 4:50 p.m.
Join your peers at one of the structured Roundtable discussions. Every day, topics will be discussed at multiple tables, each moderated by a member of the Festival Forum. Notes will be shared among all Art House Convergence attendees. Bring your best tips and suggestions, as well as the tough issues you want addressed.

•  Ticketing Solutions
•  Big Events with Small Budgets
•  Mastering the Beast: The Program Guide
•  Sponsors and Partnerships

Beyond the Hospitality Suite
Wednesday, January 21 | 10:00 – 10:50 a.m.

What does being a “filmmaker-friendly festival” really mean? Come learn how to win the adoration of filmmakers, and you’ll discover the key to strengthening your festival’s reputation, increasing submissions, and attracting new sponsors.
With Clint Bowie (New Orleans Film Festival), Dan Brawley (Cucalorus Film Festival), Tracy Lane, (True/False), and moderator Jolene Pinder (New Orleans Film Festival).

Mastering the Rush Line and Managing Audience Expectations
Wednesday, January 21 | 3:00 – 3:50 p.m.

You programmed so many fabulous films that there are no seats remaining! The challenge of managing audiences goes far beyond queuing them in line. And for those who can’t get in, or did and were disappointed, your ability to accommodate might be the key to future successes. Panelists to be announced. Led by Gary Meyer, Telluride Film Festival.

Legal Clinic
Wednesday, January 21 | 4:00 – 4:50 p.m.

From human resource issues in your office to verifying music clearances to protecting your event from feuding filmmakers, all festivals need to consider the legal ramifications of their actions. Learn from festival-savvy attorneys about recent challenges—and bring your own concerns for discussion. With Corey Field, Ballard Spahr (Sundance); Michael Donaldson, Donaldson + Callif, LLP (Los Angeles Film Festival); and Deirdre Haj (Full Frame Documentary Festival).

Festival Roundtables
Wednesday, January 21 | 5:00 – 5:50 p.m.
Join your peers at one of the structured Roundtable discussions. Every day, topics will be discussed at multiple tables, each moderated by a member of the Festival Forum. Notes will be shared among all Art House Convergence attendees. Bring your best tips and suggestions, as well as the tough issues you want addressed.

•  Topics TBA
•  (Will repeat most popular ones from prior sessions)

Festival Forum’s Future
Thursday, January 22 | 10:00 – 10:30 a.m.

The annual meeting for the Festival Forum allows for paid members to nominate and vote on new Board and Committee members—and for all in attendance to have the opportunity to comment on what YOU want from the organization.

Other combined Festival Forum-Art House Convergence panels include:

Social Media Metrics
Tuesday, January 20 | 3:00 – 3:50 p.m.

Twitter and Instagram have become some of the fastest growing platforms for local business marketing. We will be going over 9 in-depth strategies for using Twitter and 17 in-depth strategies for using Instagram in your theater. There will be case studies presented from both the exhibitor and the film festival point of view on the topic. We will also allow time at the end for questions and answers. With Sean Wycliffe (Dealflicks); Chris Collier (Renew Theaters); and Jon Gann (DC Shorts).

A Different Audience: Managing Your Board
Wednesday, January 21 | 2:00 – 2:50 p.m.

As a non-profit, your interactions with your Board are much different than your interactions with your daily audience and yearly donors. How do you manage these Board relationships effectively to yield the Board involvement you would like? With both festival and art house representation, hear from four panelists on how they manage expectations, encourage involvement, and build trust with their boards. With Colin Stanfield (New York Film Festival) and Dylan Skolnick (Cinema Arts Centre).

Check out the full schedule here.

Hope to see you in Utah!

Remember to use code IFP2015 to receive the early bird registration rate through December 31. Register here. 

BE COUNTED: Last Chance for the Film Festival Operational Survey

Only 12 days left to fill out the First Annual Festival Operational Benchmark Survey and be eligible for the drawing for complimentary Sundance or Toronto Film Festival Industry passes, Art House Convergence passes and five $100 cash awards.

The survey results will be an invaluable tool as the Forum moves forward, and we need maximum participation. Though most industries conduct surveys of this kind, our industry never has, and the results will be instrumental for many of you to apply for grants, negotiate with sponsors, build your boards, and drive strategic and operational decision-making.

Please complete the survey no later than November 30th in order to be eligible for the giveaway. While you are working on the survey, you can stop at any time and come back to it later. The survey program will resume wherever you last stopped.

Click here to go directly to the survey!

WATCH: Ticketing & Data Mapping Webinar

If you missed the November 5 webinar on Ticketing & Data Mapping, you’re in luck! We’ve archived it for posterity for all to enjoy.

In this webinar from IFP Festival Forum, Jon Gann, impresario for Cine and DC Shorts, provides tips and tools to to mine the data you (don’t know you) already have for insights into how to better reach and serve your audience. Take a deep (and we mean deep!) look into data gathering from your ticketing software and audience surveys to create interactive maps, which can be used to plan for effective marketing and secure sponsors.

Topline? In this session, Jon walks us through:
• Online tools that will give you insights into customer management
• How to use the data you know to better target people more likely to attend your event

Enjoy! And please leave a comment below to let us know what you think. Thanks!

Want more webinars just like this? Visit our YouTube channel for archived editions, and sign up for our IFP Festival Forum Newsletter (scroll to the bottom of this page) to stay in the know about upcoming events. 

Not a member yet? Join IFP Festival Forum today!

WATCH: Mastering the Red Carpet Webinar

If you missed the October webinar on Mastering the Red Carpet, you’re in luck! We’ve archived it for posterity for all to enjoy.

In this webinar, presented by the IFP Festival Forum, John Wildman, Senior Publicist at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, presents tricks of the trade for managing the red carpet. He also shares ways to convey to distributors and agents that talent are in the best of hands from the time a film is locked to their premiere. It’s a gala event in webinar form.

Enjoy! And please leave a comment below to let us know what you think. Thanks!

Want more webinars just like this? Visit our YouTube channel for archived editions, and sign up for our IFP Festival Forum Newsletter (scroll to the bottom of this page) to stay in the know about upcoming events. 

Not a member yet? Join IFP Festival Forum today!

IFP Festival Forum Asks Academy to Reconsider Festival Grant Freeze

In an exclusive post, The Wrap reports on IFP Festival Forum’s open letter to The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences:

IFP Festival Forum asks Academy to reconsider its freeze on grant programs that fund almost two dozen festivals.

The Independent Feature Project’s IFP Festival Forum has become the latest group to protest possible cuts in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ grant programs, sending a letter to the AMPAS Board of Governors asking the Academy to continue its grants and recognize “the critical role of festivals.”

As TheWrap reported exclusively on Oct. 9, the Academy has halted almost all of its educational, grant and internship programs and is considering cutting back or eliminating programs as it gears up to break ground on its expensive Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

“We cannot overstate the power and impact of the AMPAS imprimatur on festivals’ ability to leverage that stamp of approval for greater engagement from sponsors, donors and even local and state governments,” reads part of the IFP Festival Forum letter, which was signed by eight festival directors and given exclusively to TheWrap.

“Concomitantly, we cannot stress enough the positive impact for the field by festivals striving to attain the standards of excellence, professionalism and artistic vision to be considered eligible for an AMPAS grant.”

The Festival Forum letter has been emailed, mailed and faxed to the Academy between Friday and Monday. It is signed by the forum’s executive committee, which is headed by acting director Jody Arlington and made up of directors at the Sundance Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and Hamptons International Film Festival. It follows a similar letter sent to the AMPAS board by 22 recipients of Academy Film Scholar grants.

When that letter was revealed by TheWrap, an Academy spokesperson released the following statement:  “We’re taking this year to re-evaluate some of our grant-giving to ensure that each of these programs has the greatest benefit to the Academy and the communities it serves. No organization supports film education, programming and emerging talent more than the Academy — it’s part of our core mission and always will be.”

Currently, grant applications are not available at the Academy website.

Click to read the entire IFP Festival Forum letter and the rest of the article on 

We want to hear from our members. Please share your feedback in the comments section below, or on our Facebook page.

Best Practices: Securing and Calculating City Support for Your Festival

Film Festivals, like all cultural organizations, are well served by demonstrating their economic impact. While some festivals have sophisticated and third-party-generated economic impact studies that are public and promoted, others develop their own internal tools.

The IFP Festival Forum envisions a codified system of data collection and presentation, so that individual festivals and the industry as a whole can make the case for their economic and cultural value to their communities. While the Americans for the Arts and other state and regional organizations conduct arts organization economic impact studies, film festivals are not measured separately.

A year ago the IFP Festival Forum was proud to offer a session at Independent Film Week with the CEO of the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) Shelly Green on how she quantifies the economic impact of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. This model is one that the industry might develop as a best practice.

Read the White Paper here.

Once you’ve read the document, please share your thoughts with us at

Member Profile: Melissa Silverstein, Athena Film Festival

Melissa Silverstein is a writer and speaker with extensive expertise in the area of women and filmmaking. She is the founder and editor of Women and Hollywood, one of the most respected sites for issues related to women and film as well as other areas of pop culture. Women and Hollywood educates, advocates, and agitates for gender parity across the entertainment industry.

Melissa is the Entertainment Correspondent for WMC Live with Robin Morgan and was selected to be a film envoy for the American Film Showcase, the major film diplomacy program of the U.S. Department of State. And she recently published the first book from Women and Hollywood, In Her Voice: Women Directors Talk Directing, a compilation of over 40 interviews that have appeared on the site.

Women and Hollywood's Melissa Silverstein
Melissa Silverstein

In addition, Melissa is the Artistic Director and co-founder of the Athena Film Festival—A Celebration of Women and Leadership at Barnard College, a four-day festival of feature films, documentaries, and shorts dedicated to highlighting women’s leadership in real life and the fictional world. The Festival, which includes conversations with producers, directors and talent, as well as Master Classes, will take place at Barnard College in New York City from February 5-8, 2015.

What are you working on?
Right now we are in the process of making decisions on the films we want to screen at Athena, finding panels and panelists and securing our awardees.

A-ha Moment?
The festival began following an event that I put together for Jane Campion for the film Bright Star at the home of Gloria Steinem. Kathryn Kolbert (Kitty) had just arrived at Barnard College to create the Athena Center for Leadership Studies. There were women directors at the event talking about how they were having very difficult times getting their films made, and so we decided to combine forces and start a film festival that focused on women’s leadership. We screen films directed by men and women, but all must focus on women’s leadership in some way. 

In Training
I come from the theatre and have an MFA in Theatre Administration. But my best training was working in women’s non-profit organizations.

Equipment/Software Must-Haves
Couldn’t survive without Google Docs and Gchat. 

My Mentor
I stand on the shoulders of all the women who came before me. 

Biggest Challenge
Fundraising is a challenge, but so is getting filmmakers to take a shot and come to Athena rather than a bigger or more well-known festival. But that is also an advantage, because we can allow the filmmakers to stand out and garner lots of publicity because there are not hundreds of titles vying for press.

Technology is also a challenge. We are small and we can’t afford DCP, so this will continue to be a challenge for us.

Best Advice
Trust your gut. 

Greatest Accomplishment
Getting the New York premiere of Belle at last year’s festival.

What is the Right Thing to Do?
Be true to your mission. Respect everyone who gives their time to come and participate—from the volunteers to the audience members—and remember how lucky we are to be doing the work we love.

Follow Melissa on Twitter @melsil and check out Athena Film Festival on Facebook and Twitter.