Consider the progress of Park City, Utah, a similar resort town which hosts the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. In 1999, Sundance drew more than 20,000 visitors and generated $17.4 million for the community, according to Park City‘s Chamber of Commerce.
This year, Sundance will draw 40,000 visitors, selling more than 200,000 tickets over a 10-day period, generating more than twice the revenues of six years ago.
“Last year, Sundance Film Festival generated more than $41 million for the Beehive State, including $18 million on accommodations, $8 million in restaurants, $8 million on transportation and $6 million on discretionary items,“ notes the Deseret News, a newspaper serving the region.
Similarly, the tiny town of Telluride, Colorado has a population of less than 2,221, but its annual film festival brings an estimated 10,000 visitors to town, according to its chamber website.
And BendFilm, the first-ever film festival in Bend Oregon, is expected to draw 10,000 visitors this year, pumping tourist dollars into the resort town.
Moore noted in the Associated Press that the Traverse City Film Festival had sold $50,000 in tickets in its first four days of sales, boding well for its success.
“I see this as a really positive development for downtown Traverse City,“ said Bryan Crough, executive director of the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority. “It‘s a long term investment that‘s going to grow.“
SPOILING THE SHOW
Organizers of a right-wing counter-festival are aiming to put a blot on Moore‘s event, however, with their Traverse Bay Freedom Film Festival.
Genie Aldrich, a resident of Suttons Bay, has organized the anti-festival with the assistance of a far-right American Film Renaissance organization, based in Dallas, Texas. The anti-festival, to be held July 29-30, will show dated box office hits such as “Top Gun“ along with conservative propaganda films, including “Michael Moore Hates America.“
Aldrich‘s mindset is perhaps best summed up with her quote in the AP: People are fed up and tired with the extreme left-wing radical fringe - America haters, family haters, Christian haters, she said.
In another odd note, the Park Place Hotel in downtown Traverse City is one of the venues hosting Aldrich‘s festival at its dome facility, creating an unpleasant surprise for potential guests -- possibly including film stars and major directors -- who will be attending Moore‘s film festival.
Ironically, a number of prominent local Republicans have joined Moore in staging the Traverse City Film Festival. The event also got the red carpet treatment from the Traverse City Commission last month -- again a mostly Republican body which overwhelmingly approved the festival.
Moore has said repeatedly that his July 27-31 festival is about presenting quality independent films and not about making political statements.
Crough believes that most members of the local business community get the picture.
“I hope everyone approaches every bit of this festival as a celebration of films,“ Crough said of Moore‘s event. “That‘s what this is supposed to be all about.“
-- by Robert Downes