Aiming to do what the Formula One circuit has done for international auto racing and the PGA Tour for golf, The US Film Festivals Circuit, a promotion and marketing platform which will link major national sponsors with prestigious US film festivals, has announced that ten film festivals will participate in its inaugural series.
The US Film Festivals Circuit is the inaugural project of the newly formed The Circuit Organization, a joint venture between Los Angeles-based sales and marketing firm Golya Corporation and New York-based promotion and marketing firm International Media Resources. Drawing on a combined experience in both the film festival and consumer marketing worlds, the Circuit Organization will serve as the coordinator of the Circuit and as liaison between the National Sponsor and the participating film festival events.
The Circuit kicks off in April 2002 with a black tie event at the Washington (DC) International Film Festival. The opening night is planned to be held at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, with a guest list expected to include film industry professionals, local arts and cultural figures, international embassy officials and representatives from the White House, Congress and other branches of government.
“Launching the Circuit in our nation’s capital is an appropriate idea for these patriotic times”, offered Sandy Mandelberger of International Media Resources, which is partnered with Golya Corporation in the effort. “This will allow the Circuit to get a national profile right out of the gate”, Mandelberger added, “as well as accessing the national and international media that have branches there.”
From Washington DC in April, the Circuit will move to New York in late April for the Gen Art Film Festival. It then criss-crosses the country in June with the Seattle International Film Festival and the Nashville Independent Film Festival. Other participating festivals include: the Florida Film Festival (Orlando), the Maui Film Festival (Hawaii), the Boston Film Festival, the Mill Valley Film Festival (Northern California) and the Denver International Film Festival. The Circuit will conclude in its first cycle at the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival in November 2002. The Circuit will begin its second season with the first official festival of the New Year, the Palm Springs International Film Festival in January 2003, and also will add the Cleveland International Film Festival in March 2003 to its roster, bringing the total number of participating festivals to twelve.
At each participating Festival, the Circuit will bestow a cash Audience Award to the most popular film of the Festival that will be linked to the title sponsor. In December 2002, a program showcasing the ten Audience Award Winners will be presented in New York, where audiences will award the Grand Prix Audience Award.
This marks the first time that a national sponsor would create a national profile by being linked with established film festival events in the top dozen markets in the United States. “Name brand companies have long been interested in the world of film and film festivals”, Golya Corporation’s Patrick de Bokay said. “However, they were reluctant to get involved with just one film festival in one city that reaches only one consumer market. By linking together 12 film festival events over the course of one year, we are providing these companies with a truly national profile that reaches nearly one million consumers in the top dozen US markets. This is the film equivalent of the PGA Tour, with each festival providing an integral stop on a national circuit of events.”
‘Film festivals have been restricted from accessing national sponsorship support because their events were local, not national in scope”, International Media Resources’ Sandy Mandelberger added. “Since there is no overall film festivals organization, we have come in to link 12 film festival events across the country, putting them in a position to receive support monies as part of a national promotion effort by the national brand sponsor. We see this as a win-win for everyone involved…. the sponsor, the film festivals and the filmmakers.”
The National Sponsor would receive a host of on-site services at all the festivals, and would participate in each individual festivals’ local promotion and advertising efforts. This allows the Sponsor to have a tremendous amount of local visibility for a fraction of the cost of launching a specialized promotion campaign in that market. The participating Festivals would also benefit, not only from the sponsorship monies, but also from the increased national exposure that the Circuit will bring to their individual events.
“In the current economic environment, businesses have to be both smart and thrifty regarding their promotion efforts”, de Bokay added. “The Circuit provides a company with a very attractive way of accessing existing and potential customers by linking with firmly established cultural events that draw upon the highly desirable demographic of people who attend film festivals.”
For its second edition in 2003, additional film festivals may be added. “We think that once this gets off the ground, there will be tremendous interest from both sponsors and film festivals alike in getting in on the action”, Mandelberger concluded. “With over 400 film festivals in the United States alone, that provides almost unlimited opportunities for national sponsors to reach consumer through these events and for local film festivals to gain a national reputation.”
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