Filmgoers attending the opening of the Travelling Film Festival at the Saraton Theatre in 2014.
Filmgoers attending the opening of the Travelling Film Festival at the Saraton Theatre in 2014. Adam Hourigan

Travelling Film Festival a no show at Plunge

THE 2016 plunge program is out and while it has a record-breaking 150 events for people to attend this year, there will be one notable absence from this year's line-up - the Travelling Film Festival.

<<2016 PLUNGE FESTIVAL GUIDE TO THE BEST ARTS AND CULTURE EVENTS IN THE VALLEY>>

After making the journey to Grafton and Yamba for the past two years bringing the latest batch of internationally and nationally acclaimed films to regional centres, the TFF as it is known, won't be coming to the Clarence this year.

TFF manager Alicia Emery said there were a few factors that contributed to their withdrawal.

"Firstly the (Clarence Valley) council and plunge have been very supportive of the festival and have continued to offer financial support as well as alternative venues and options for film screenings," Ms Emery said.

She said the Grafton venue which had hosted the event for the past two years, the Saraton Theatre, was not eager to host the festival this year as they felt it cost them too much money.

"They were dissatisfied with the venue hire fee we had paid in the previous two years. We were able to negotiate a lesser fee but with specific conditions, which ultimately could have worked, however, we just felt as though they were not committed to the event."

Ms Emery said to achieve success the TFF needed to have commitment and dedication from venues and the community.

"In addition to the venue commitment, the festivals did not achieve an improved result from the previous year and in fact, Yamba resulted in a 30% decline."

Ms Emery said to help improve this the not-for-profit organisation was changing its organisational procedures.

"With decreased government funding and unpredictable funding in the future, we are implementing new evaluation processes to remain sustainable," she said. "But this year we decided that with our reduced resources, both operational and financial, we must withdraw from locations that are making a loss. Unfortunately we forecasted a further loss in the Clarence this year.

"We are very disappointed not to be presenting with Plunge this year, but unfortunately, until we can increase our funds we have to run a tighter ship."

The Plunge Festival runs from March 26 to April 26. The event guide featuring 100+ is out now.

Saraton Theatre co-owner Angelo Notaras said the Travelling Film Festival did cost them money to host.

"Initially when we signed up we took it on face value 80% - 20% sharing of income but we thought the cinema kept the 80% but it was the other way around.

"We've lost money for the past two years so it wasn't a commercial proposition that worked for us. It didn't even cover the electricity."

Mr Notaras said the cinema tried to screen all kinds of movies but said nothing really worked except what Hollywood "tells us to do."

"Even for Stars Wars it was 55% to screen that film. Eighty per cent is a premium price. We didn't get enough ticket sales and it was an effort to put on. With the cost of staff and labour to make 20% gross was not worth it."

The Yamba Cinema was informed the TFF was not coming to the Clarence late last year but it wasn't enough time for cinema owner Debbie McCredie to pull together her own festival for inclusion in the plunge program.

"I will definitely do something for next year's event if the film festival isn't coming back."

While Clarence Valley Council was disappointed the TFF won't be back this year, environment, planning and community director Des Schroder said film buffs would not be let down.

"The 25th International Short Film Festival, Flickerfest, will be at the Saraton Theatre on April 1 with 'Best of Australian Shorts' before it continues its tour around the world," he said.

"It would have been good to have the Travelling Film Festival as well but, for this year at least, it wasn't to be."



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