Joana Vicente introducing IFP Festival Forum
Joana Vicente introducing IFP Festival Forum

At the recent New York IFP Meetings in mid September Just after TIFF, I attended a day devoted to an initiative called the IFP Festival Forum.This nascent professional association of film festivals has been convening at IFP’s independent Film Week and the Sundance Film Festival for a couple years, as it seeks to become an independent organization focused on the needs and interests of festival organizers. At Independent Film week they were presenting multiple panels hitting on issues of interest to festivals.

The next meeting will take place at 2014 Art House Convergence, and Film Festivals are invited to attend and to participate. The deadline for reduced registration to the Art House Convergence is looming, so read this to decide whether you should attend. Let me give my personal overview of this quite momentous event.

I was an original founder of IFP when Sandra Schulberg organized a meeting in the early '80s in New York of indie film people who felt the need for us to be organized, to "have a voice". I then went on to open the L.A. office of IFP West (now Film Independent / FIND) and ran that for a year, effectively setting up the now vibrant LA organization.

My partner Sydney Levine and myself have, in recent years, been very aware of the need for the burgeoning film festival scene in the U.S. and internationally to meet, get organized and discuss common issues, problems, solutions in the same way as filmmakers did in those early IFP days.

For example - In Berlin now for several years my partner Sydney Levine has led, and I have worked closely with her, workshops organized each year during the week pre-Berlinale by Germany's large well-funded PBS-type-entity Deutsche Welle link. She and I have counseled pre and during Berlinale large groups (30 or more) of young film fest directors from Africa, Asia, and Latin America about the international independent film marketplace. She also takes them on her unique walking tours of the physical Berlinale marketplace. (She conducts other tours for various groups at the Berlinale each year and also at Cannes Marche du Film.)

This July at the invitation of U.K.'s International Cinema Office link I went to their week's session in Motovun Croatia and met with 40 or more young festival directors from all over Europe (U.K. and also eastern, southern and central Europe) to discuss the various common problems of festival management, organization, financing, marketing etc. My focus there was on the business of festivals and their connection with the international film markets such as Berlinale and Cannes. I blogged about them and this meeting at IndieWire at SydneysBuzz. You can read that piece HERE

My partner Sydney has attended every Art House Convergence meeting in Utah since its second year inception and will also attend this coming January '14 meeting pre-Sundance.

In New York last week I sat down with members of the IFP Festival Forum Executive Committee to learn what their vision is for this new organization.

The Executive Committee attendees were:

Jody Arlington, Interim Director IFP Festival Forum Executive Committee

Sarah Pearce, Sundance Institute Co-Managing Director, Operations & Utah Community Relations

Colin Stanfield, San Francisco Film Society Managing Director

Joana Vicente, Executive Director, IFP introduced the NYC meeting last week.

Colin Stanfield and Sarah Pearce
Colin Stanfield and Sarah Pearce

Sundance Institute’s Sarah Pearce commented on the motives behind this new organization. She said, "we need a voice to advocate for needs in the film festival world. We also want to create a platform to share resources.

Sarasota's Tom Hall sees the next step as "a further discussion of partnership with the Art House Convergence, an organization dedicated to business and organizational needs of art house cinemas. The difference is only that we are dedicated to film festivals. This is the first truly professional conference of this sort organized by and for film festival collaboration".

Jody Arlington, Interim Director IFP Festival Forum Executive Committee described their efforts like this."Since ratifying our vision, mission, bylaw and strategic plan at Sundance in January, the executive committee has been focused on developing and delivering value against our three core objectives: developing and sharing best practices, advocating for the needs and interests of festivals at the local, national and international level, and of course ensuring everything is aligned with our mission and values. Each panel and discussion at IFP was aligned with our goals. Art House Convergence will be a more ambitious offering, by which time we’ll have launched our website and have industry research to present.”

Jody Arlington
Jody Arlington

This statement has just been released describing the upcoming January 2014 meeting in Utah presented by IFP Festival Forum and Art House Convergence.

The IFP Festival Forum and Art House Convergence to Present Film Festival Program at 2014 Art House Convergence Conference

January 13-16, 2014 in Midway, UT

The IFP Festival Forum and Art House Convergence (AHC) announced during IFP’s Independent Film Week that they are joining forces for this year’s 2014 Art House Convergence Conference, January 13-16 in Midway Utah. For the first time the Art House Convergence will feature a full program of panels, discussions, meetings and presentations seeking to enhance the professional and organizational development of film festivals. The film festival program at AHC will be open to all attending delegates, and all AHC programs will be open to attending festival delegates. Registration for all attending film festival delegates is open until October 21, 2013 and registration can be completed HERE

“Art Houses and Film Festivals share similar DNA, and often work together symbiotically already,” said Joana Vicente, Executive Director, IFP. “They also face similar organizational challenges and benefit from the type of professional development and best practices shared at the IFP Festival Forum during Independent Film Week, and now at the upcoming Art House Convergence Conference.”

Festival Program Conference Topics include:

• Defining Festivals in the New Cinematic Landscape

• The Ethics of Film Festival Programming: A Filmmaker Bill Of Rights

• Digital Conversion For Festivals: How to Program and Exhibit In The Digital Age

• Come Together: How Do We Organize To Tell The Story of Film Festivals To The World?

• Festival To Festival: Models for Collaboration

• Audiences Unleashed: Making Your Festival Valuable to Distributors and Filmmakers

• Festival Nightmares: Horror Stories and Best Practices For Festival Organizers

• Side By Side: A Case Study of Festival Operations and Management

• Data and Transparency: Survey Presentation and Developing A Model for Information Sharing

“The Art House Convergence has dedicated itself to improving the quality and effectiveness of art house cinemas, where so many festivals make their homes. We look forward to working with our festival colleagues who are also dedicated to fostering collaboration and a thriving film community,” said Russ Collins, Director, Art House Convergence.

The Art House Convergence is a four-day, action packed conference that provides productive tips about programming, marketing, fundraising, technology and industry trends to help improve the quality and effectiveness of community-based, mission-driven art house cinemas. The IFP Festival Forum is an emerging professional association that advocate for the needs and interests of film festivals and their organizers, providing a collaborative platform for members to develop and share operational and curatorial efficiencies, set professional standards, and establish best practices.

About Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP)

The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) is the premier advocacy organization for independent filmmakers, championing the future of storytelling in the digital age by fostering a vibrant and sustainable independent filmmaking community. IFP has supported over 7,000 films and offered resources to more than 20,000 filmmakers over its 34-year history, developing 350 new feature and documentary films each year. IFP represents a growing network of 10,000 filmmakers and artists in New York City and around the world.


IFP guides filmmakers in the art, technology and business of independent filmmaking through its year-round programming and now the state of the art Made In NY Media Center by IFP, a new incubator space developed with the Mayor’s Office for Media and Entertainment, where storytellers from multiple disciplines, industries and platforms create, collaborate and connect. In addition to its workshops, seminars, conferences, mentorships, and Filmmaker Magazine, IFP’s year-round programs include Independent Film Week, Envision, The Cross-Media Forum, The Gotham Independent Film Awards, and the Independent Filmmaker Labs.

About the IFP Festival Forum™

A professional association that advocates for the needs and interests of Film Festivals and their organizers. The Festival Forum provides 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 Festival Forum includes over 200 U.S. & International festival programmers and executives, including representatives from Berlin, Cannes, Full Frame, Hot Docs, New York Film Festival, New Directors, Rotterdam, Slamdance, Sundance, SXSW, and Tribeca.

About the Art House Convergence

Art House

The Art House Convergence conference is an educational program organized by the Michigan Theater and other Sundance Institute Art House Project theaters. At this important annual conference, delegates enjoy inspirational speakers, informative sessions and panel discussions that provide productive tips about programming, marketing, fundraising, technology and industry trends to help improve the quality and quantity of community-based, mission-driven art house cinemas.