Festival organizers hope to use the State Theatre and Opera House downtown once again for the 2006 event, in addition to a new venue. Plans are also in the works to add an extra day of programming along with more parties and panels with actors, directors, and writers.
Organizers report that last summer‘s festival tallied some 50,000 admissions, amounting to the most successful film festival launch ever -- including those of the world-renowned Sundance and Telluride film fests. A majority of the festivals 54 screenings and all special events were sold out, with ticket sales reaching $150,000. Another $54,000 was generated by concessions and merchandise sales.
Traverse City Chamber of Commerce President Doug Luciani estimated in a news release that the first-time event had a $5 million impact on the community in five days.
Across the United States, film festivals are bringing millions of dollars to their host communities.
Between 1995 and 2000, the number of film festivals around the world rose from 450 to nearly 700. In the past five years, the number has multiplied fivefold in the United States, and has exploded to an estimated 1,600 festivals worldwide.
What gives Traverse City the edge in terms of drawing power for major directors and films is the participation of Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore. An area resident, Moore co-founded the event last summer with author Doug Stanton and photographer John Robert Williams.
One of the festival goals is to make it a global event on par with fests in Telluride, Sundance and Toronto. There‘s much to be gained by such a strategy: For instance, in 2005, the Toronto Film Festival generated $1.8 billion for the city. In the decade between 1993 and 2004, the economic impact of the Toronto Film Festival Group grew from $30 million to $1.5 billion.
A townhall meeting on homelessness in Northern Michigan was set for Monday, Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. at the Traverse Area District Library as the Express went to press. The event features Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell as keynote speaker.
During a recent street count conducted by Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan, volunteers identified 438 homeless persons in a five-county area in Northern Michigan. That included 220 men, 137 women and 80 children under the age of 19. Many reported that they had been forced to sleep outdoors at near-freezing temperatures.