Monday, November 16, 2009

Windsor fest triples audience

The fifth annual Windsor International Film Festival tripled its audience this year. That's great news since the festival had taken a 20 per cent drop in attendance last year. Festival director Peter Coady attributed the upsurge to a "compressed" four-day event rather than being stretched-out over two weekends like last year's was. As well, virtually all films were at the downtown Capitol Theatre, keeping the location straight in everyone's minds rather than trying to keep track of various locations. The same was probably true with the condensed schedule. If you only have four days to see a film chances are you're going to get out and see it especially if it's only being shown once. Which was the case with the 34 films screened.....This is great news for the still young fest, and you could almost hear Coady breathe a sigh of relief that the event came off so well. The other big feather in his cap was that WIFF at the last minute attracted federal Telefilm funding which in the eyes of many means a festival has "made it.".....WIFF sold more than 6000 tickets. It also sold more than 150 passes. These were a great deal at $40 per, allowing unlimited access to films. Coady thought they would just sell 25 or 30.....On the U.S. side Coady was pleased that screenings at Michigan State and the Detroit Film Theatre attracted 800-900 attendance. There was limited advertising in publications like Metro Times and the Freep had a story Thursday....the Capitol Theatre seemed a natural for the fest and looks like it will continue to be the mainstay. It's largest venue the Pentastar Theatre packed almost 600 for films like Coco Before Chanel and Cairo Time. Nevertheless opening night shoulder-to-shoulder crowds put a scare into organizers. People had to exit Coco before being allowed in again to see Almodovar's Broken Embraces. Plus there was a huge line just to see Embraces. "We never thought we'd have to deal with crowd control," Coady said.....But crowds thinned out for the rest of the event and were easily manageable. To solve the problem Coady thinks more than one screening of popular films will probably take place next year. And the fest could add two or three more days. Last year's event was obviously too long. Organizers overcompensated with this year's abbreviated schedule.....Coady says there were a few glitches with the sound system. There were also interruptions when films didn't project properly during The Private Lives of Pippa Lee and The White Ribbon. But people "rolled with the punches" and despite being offered refunds no one took the festival up on it......

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