Tahoe film festival moves to fall
The fall festival corridor in North Lake Tahoe just got a little bit wider.Filmmakers and Tahoe residents will have to wait nine more months for the Tahoe International Film Festival screening of films from around the world.Now in its fifth year, the film festival has moved its dates from the second week of April to September, joining other Tahoe cultural events such as the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, the North Lake Tahoe Autumn Food & Wine Festival, the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and others in the area’s autumn shoulder season.The dates for the film festival, which last year screened 60 of the 300 submissions of feature, short and documentary films it received, are now Sept. 27 to Oct. 2, with the addition of another day. Between 400 and 500 submissions with 50 to 60 films screened are expected this year.Elizabeth Rogers, co-founder of the festival and the acting executive director, cited a restructuring of the organization, due in part to personnel changes and a desire to elevate the status of the festival in the eyes of the film industry, for the date change.”We had an opportunity to rethink the festival – what worked, what could be better,” Rogers said. “We also received feedback from local businesses that the spring season was a tough one for lodging. The consistent shoulder season really wasn’t.”Entirely driven by the efforts of volunteers, the festival has seen some changes since last year’s staging. Laura Barber, who was executive director for two years, left the festival at the beginning of last summer as did Hilary Kleger who was the program director. After debating all summer, Rogers, who is the only remaining board member from last year, made the decision to change last September.”We want to make the fifth year a big step-up – mostly how we’re perceived in the industry. We’ve peeked our head above the industry radar. This is the year to make adjustments,” Rogers said. “It was a strategic move, to give us more time.”That step includes drawing more film celebrities as well as increasing local, audience and industry support, local support being crucial, according to Rogers.”I think we’ve done a tremendous job building a very good festival. We’re looking to the community to step up. We need help fund-raising,” said Rogers.Not only is fall a busy time of year for Tahoe events, it’s also a peak time for film festivals. The Tahoe film festival will now fall in the middle of the prestigious month-long New York Film Festival and comes two weeks before the Mill Valley Film Festival. Rogers said the weekend they chose worked because it didn’t have any area conflicts.”We didn’t want to compete with other local festivals. But maybe we could add to it,” said Rogers. “We may shift it back again in following years. We’re still young and flexible.”Although the dates are different, Rogers emphasized that the format would change little. And the integrity would not be compromised.”We have put together a tremendous program – the feedback has been very, very good. We’ll keep the format basically the same with minor adjustments because it seems to work,” said Rogers.Some other changes to the program itself include combining the awards ceremony and the filmmakers’ celebration, the added day and giving the Pinnacle Award of Excellence and Achievement. This award will be given to a well-known industry figure who has not only had an esteemed career, but has also coupled that with a committed social involvement. The added day – Tuesday – will focus on select sports action films, such as ski films, keeping in mind the local film economy and what the community wants.With board positions streamlined from nine to five members and positions still open, the Tahoe International Film Festival is looking for new energy. Rogers also has openings on the program committee which is responsible for selecting the films to be screened. Call for entries opens Jan. 15 and closes June 29.Those interested in volunteering may contact Dana Tanner, volunteer coordinator, at the Tahoe International Film Festival at 583-FEST or visit http://www.tahoefilmfestival.org.
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