Tough times for Santa Cruz Film Festival

This week, the Santa Cruz Film Festival bursts into town, playing in venues all over the county with an ambitious slate of films, lasting over eight days. But there’s a possibility that, after eight years, this year’s Festival might be the last.
That’s because advance ticket sales are slumping badly, and this Festival doesn’t have the luxury of surfing past a few negative-revenue years. The recession has taken a toll on arts groups everywhere — whether it’s declining audiences, cuts in government or corporate support, or a shortfall in private donations. But in Santa Cruz, we haven’t seen arts groups shut down quite yet (with the exception of the UCSC Arts & Lectures program).
This Festival has been going strong for eight years, and it’s just now starting to find traction on a national level as an intriguing spot on the film-festival circuit. This year’s might be the best yet, with a huge percentage of films that have some kind of Santa Cruz connection. Even those films without an obvious local link — the opening night film “Gospel Hill” by the acclaimed actor/director Giancarlo Esposito — tangles with themes of interest to local audiences.
If you’re not a fan of the Film Festival, for whatever reason, do nothing. If you are, then now’s not the time to take anything for granted. Find a way to get out to a program or two. Spend 10 minutes looking over the program. In this economic environment, no one can expect the treasured events of our cultural calendar to merrily cruise along indefinitely while we depend on the other guy to spend his money. These kinds of events are often like hardy desert plants — they’ll adapt to changing circumstances. But they do need water, even if it’s a little, to stay alive.
Those who want to contribute to the SCFF, in an easy and painless way, do so here.
Ticket information can be found here.


2 thoughts on “Tough times for Santa Cruz Film Festival

  1. Alright, this may sound like a “sore loser” rant, but the truth is, my music videos have been honored at festivals like the San Francisco Int’l Shorts Film Festival and the Los Angeles International Film Festival. Two years in a row I submitted videos to the Santa Cruz Festival and was turned down both years. My question is “If you’re turning down reasonably good local talent, how can you expect to ‘gain traction’ with local movie-goers?”

  2. Hey Michael – It often boils down to shaping a theme (finding a stream of consciousness) for a program and many worthy films are not accepted based on that. 33 local films are in the festival this year out of 12o films programmed from 29 countries. 35 if you would like to include Mo Perkins film A QUIET LITTLE MARRIAGE and Harrod Blank’s AUTOMPORPHOSIS. Both film makers were born and educated in SC although live elsewhere. No longer “locals”. I’m sorry you feel we can’t “gain traction” with that kind of record. Rejecting films is the worst part of the gig. I’m sorry that happened to you and you feel slighted. We try very, very hard to program a stellar fest, but we have limited screen time. Please keep in mind SFIFF and LAIFF have VERY DEEP POCKETS. More money more screens. Big town small town. If you choose not to come because your film isn’t included in SCFF, but has had recongnition outside of your hometown Okey Dokey. You may want to “turn that frown upside-down” and cheer your fellow local film makers who are included this year and have never AND may never get the chance to show where you have. Think~and congratulations on all your successes.

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