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Patty Fantasia

The International Film Festival Summit Returns

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The International Film Festival Summit Returns
by Patty Fantasia

The International Film Festival Summit (IFFS) returned to Las Vegas from December 5th through 7th at Planet Hollywood for its 7th annual conference.   The IFFS is the only event held for film festival industry professionals and features panels, workshops, keynote speakers and networking sessions aimed at discussing and evaluating ideas and technologies available in the field.  One of the highlights this year was the announcement of the winners for the Audience Choice Awards.  The Edmonton International Film Festival was named the Image Award Winner with Indie Memphis coming in as Runner Up, while the Livre d’Or Winner was the Macon Film Festival with the Edmonton International Film Festival coming in as Runner Up.

Following registration on Day 1 members of the Austin Film Festival staff discussed the operation of their eight day Festival and Conference in a presentation called “Anatomy of a Festival: Austin Film Festival”.  This was followed by Keynote Speaker Paul Cohen talking about “Festival Partnerships: Growing the next Generation of Filmmakers”, then came Conference Break-Out Sessions and the Opening Cocktail Reception.  The final item on the agenda was Dinner with Strangers, a unique program allowing attendees a unique opportunity to meet, dine and network with each other.

On Monday the first Panel was “Festivals Impact on Social Change and Culture moderated by Sydney Levine, Founder of Film Finders and SydneysBuzz on IndieWire, who was joined by Ira Deutchman, CEO, Emerging Pictures, Executive Director of the Traverse City Film Festival Deb Lake, The Founder of the Mill Valley International Film Festival Mark Fishkin and Robin Brook, CEO of The Creative Coalition.   Next up, the CEO of NOMOSA, a Las Vegas company developing a unique ecommerce and networking system for independent artists, spoke about “Festivals and Distribution: The Power of Collaboration”, then after the morning break came the Keynote Presentation “Producers and Studios: The Emerging Importance of Festivals” from noted Producer, Writer and Director Gilbert Adler  (”Superman Returns” and “Valkyrie”). In the Afternoon Breakout Sessions Gabe Wardell from the Atlanta Film Forum joined Kodak Brands Manager Janet Tiller for a Sponsorship Roundtable on the Progressive Track, while a Workshop on “Sustainable Sponsorship” was held on the Education Track and a Panel Discussion “Maintaining Innovation in Your Program” took place in the Thought Leadership Track.  Another round of Tracks continued in the afternoon with a Hybrid Session called “Conceptualizing Film Festival Operation”, and Panels “Alternative Festival Models & Formats” and “New Media and Technology Programs at Your Festival.



The final item on the day’s agenda was the Interactive Session “Action Network Groups” which were divided as follows: “Genre Programming” with SXSW Programmer Jarod Neece, “Which Comes First: The Ticket or the Pass?” led by Eric Jambor, the Executive Director of Indie Memphis; “Film Fest Cost Migration” chaired by the Managing Director of the Lone Star International Film Festival John Storm; The Boston Underground Film Festival’s Director Anna Feder talking about “Guerrilla Marketing: Big Ideas on a Small Budget”; Cevin Cathell, Director of Programming for the Sonoma International Film Festival discussing “Bringing Big Films to Smaller Fests”; CEO of Emerging Pictures, Ira Deutchman leading “Year-round Programming”; “I’m Just the Party Girl…An Executive Director’s Job with Nashville Film Festival Executive Director Sallie Mayne; Executive Director of the DC Film Alliance Jon Gann chairing “Judge, Jury, & Process”; “Legal Issues Facing Film Festivals” with Laurie B. Kirby, Esq, who is a Consultant at LA Eye For Talent; Executive Director of the RiverRun International Film Festival leading “Government Funding: National & Local”, the Co-Founder of the Atlanta Film Forum Paula Martinez chairing “Strategic Leadership” and the Denver Film Society’s Director of Membership & Volunteers Eileen O’Brien talking about “Understanding the Importance of Volunteers & Membership”.

On the final day of the Summit a Panel Session “Creating a Festival Identity” was scheduled in the morning followed by “Filmanthropy at your Festival” with documentary filmmaker James Chippendale, who is also Co-Founder of the Hope, Strength, Love Foundation.  The Keynote Presentation “An Independent Distributor in the Land of Festivals” with Speaker Robert Baruc, President of Screen Media Films followed before the Summit’s final Track Sessions were held in the afternoon.  Once again attendees enjoyed the educational and networking opportunities the Summit provided, though it was suggested that next year more content related to social media and technology should be included.  On February 8th and 9th, 2011 the European version of the conference will be taking place in Berlin.
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