Trieste Film Festival threatened with loss of main festival venue


    The Trieste Film Festival (www.triestefilmfestival.it) closed on a negative note as the festival's artistic director Annamaria Percavassi announced that the festival's main venue, the Excelsior Cinema, would close its doors permanently shortly after the end of the festival.

    The central Trieste cinema has been home to the festival for most of its 20 years of existence and while Percavassi vowed that the festival would be back for a 21st edition in 2010 she added that she did not yet know where the screenings would be held.

    The closure of the older generation of cinemas has been a common problem faced by festivals in recent years as large city centre venues are replaced by mall based multi-plexes. Vienna Film Festival faced the same problem a decade ago but the festival administration managed to put together a deal for the festival organization to take of the venue and operate it year round.

    But not all festivals are so lucky and the continued closure of older city centre cinemas, much loved by art house and festival audiences, poses a real threat to many local festivals. Without state subsidies single screen cinemas are often not financially viable and governmental bodies have been slow to recognize these cinemas as part of their countries' cultural heritage.

    Despite the announcement of the closure of the Excelsior the 20th edition of Italy's only event dedicated to the cinema of Central and Eastern Europe was a resounding success selling more tickets and attracting a larger audience then in previous years and screening 150 films in eight days from January 15-22.

    The Trieste Film Festival is the first festival of the 2009 to kick off what looks like a crowded round of festivals celebrating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Trieste marked the anniversary with a special evening of films and documentaries dedicated the fall of the Wall-- the first of many such evenings and retrospectives festival audiences will undoubtedly see this year.

    The festival, helmed by Percavassi, has consistently presented one of the most comprehensive and intelligently curated showcases of the best in Central and Eastern European cinema. The event also increasingly brings CEI filmmakers together to cut new coproduction deals and share experiences. Noticeable among those chatting up future potential partners were Andras Muhi who heads Budapest based Inforg Film (www.inforgstudio.hu) and is one of Hungary's most active CEI coproducers. Another producer present was Sofia based Stefan Kitanov who has recently scored a festival hit with Director Stephan Komandarev's The World is Big and Salvation Lies Just Around the Corner. The film was partly shot in Trieste and closed the festival.

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