Film festival a financial success, MDC official says
By Sherri C. Ranta
Containing expenses, booking solid films and wooing back wary sponsors and the film-loving public seem to have resulted in a successful and financially sound outing for the 21st Miami International Film Festival.
Preliminary figures show the festival, organized by Miami Dade College, will show a profit this year, although exact numbers are still being determined as sponsorship checks and final bills still come in, said Kathie Sigler, college provost for operations.
"Our budget was $1.18 million," she said. "My directive from (college president) Dr. (Eduardo) Padron was to break even. We know we will be in the black."
The college took over administration of the festival in October when Florida International University relinquished control after absorbing a debt of $800,000. Under the new association, Miami Dade College provides administrative, marketing and fundraising support while festival director Nicole Guillemet and her staff provide programming.
"We basically knew we had to be mean and lean in order to continue for the future. That was everyone's goal, to save the film festival for all of Miami," said Ms. Sigler. The goal may have been realized, if ticket sales are an indication.
About 50,500 tickets were sold, Ms. Sigler said, raising $330,160, far exceeding the $197,820 raised in ticket sales during FIU's final administration of the festival last year. Online ticket sales on the film festival's Web site with credit-card payments also helped sales.
"The prices were the same," Ms. Sigler said. "We made it up with greater ticket sales."
Film selections by Ms. Guillemet, former co-director of the Sundance Film Festival, and special events also wooed the public back to the festival, Ms. Sigler said. About 41 films were sold out.
The University of Miami's Cosford Theatre sold out for a 7 p.m. showing of the Golden Globe-winning documentary "Osama." Students begged for another showing, Ms. Sigler said, and waited in line for an unscheduled show at 9 p.m.
This year marked the University of Miami's first involvement. UM organized and hosted a seminar series for local filmmakers and students to meet many of the filmmakers whose work the festival featured.
MDC will administer the festival for the next few years, Ms. Sigler said.
"We want to make sure its on good financial footing," she said. "We want people to understand we're careful in how we spend money."
Many past sponsors and guests did not come back to the festival this year. "They basically said, 'We have all the faith in the college and Dr. Padron, but we want to sit it out this year. We'll be back the following year if all goes well,' " Ms. Sigler said.