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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old February 2nd, 2004, 12:27 PM   #1
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Sarasota Film Festival Shocker

There was a total of $10,000 to be distributed as cash prizes to the filmakers. The jury decided they couldn't decide so instead of distributing the money it is going to be used to form a "new film-makers" fund.

HOLY MOLY COLD BOLONEY!

So let me get this straight. People sumbimmted their films with an entry fee, they were promised a cash award if they won, now Sarasota says "Sorry, we're going to use this money for a fund and we will distribute the money we promised you to other people, at a later date, for other reasons."

How can they do this?

AAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHH!

I'm going to say something that is unfair, but I believe it:

I have lived on the central west coast of Florida since I was a wee laddie of 8. This whole place just blows. Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, full of mouth breathing yocals.

Don't they get it? Yeah, art for arts sake and all that. But if you ain't gonna give out money, don't take it from the filmakers. Or at the very least, let every one know that there might not be any cash distributed.

When! I feel better. Imagine how ticked I'd be if I'd entered?
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Old February 2nd, 2004, 12:29 PM   #2
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Sounds like something for the police.
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Old February 2nd, 2004, 12:34 PM   #3
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FYI all:

http://www.sarasotafilmfest.com/2004...lesandregs.cfm

Hmmm nowhere do I actually read what the prizes are?
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Old February 2nd, 2004, 12:38 PM   #4
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If what you are saying is true - it's obviously illegal. All you have to do is make a few phone calls...and wam bam, the money will be going where its suppose to.

They had to have known someone would blow the whistle. It's not that difficult to hold people responsible if it all happened in a public forum...which it looked like it did.

This is all I could find regarding $ amounts given out:

http://www.sarasotafilmfest.com/2004...entTickets.cfm

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Old February 2nd, 2004, 12:58 PM   #5
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Under Entry Rules and Regulations, the last sentence of 4, D reads:


Prizes to be awarded may include national publicity, cash, product or production services grants, professional assistance and memberships, and/or accessibility to a variety of possible exhibition and self-distribution opportunities.



Operative word = may. Did they give out any awards at all?
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Old February 2nd, 2004, 01:10 PM   #6
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That was my conclusion too. They may have covered themselves with that.
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Old February 2nd, 2004, 01:24 PM   #7
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Do you know for sure of the "may" was there before the festival? If not, it's possible that it was recently added.

The reason I ask - I worked at a television station and took care of the website. Let's just say management occasionally had me change words on the website and went on to say..."it was always there". Soooo...you never know.

I think Google has "cache" feature that might be worth a look.

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Old February 2nd, 2004, 05:14 PM   #8
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Murph,

The page you referred to is for ticket prices to the showings.

Joe,

Rob nailed it. That is their "out", and I don't see any reference to actual cash prizes, anywhere on the site. "May" is a pretty powerful, little word.

The closest thing I see that even implies that someone can win a cash prize is a completely irrelevant, non-commital, stylized picture, that serves as a link to their "friends" memberships at:

http://www.sarasotafilmfest.com/2004/stuff/stuff.cfm

Actually, the whole website feels like a veiled Tourism Board or Chamber of Commerce pitch.

With all the corporate sponsorship, you'd think they could at least spring for some kind of $$$ as many of the Platinum Reel Sponsors and above have links to their respective sites. I'm sure that they must have put up some decent fees for the "honor".

http://www.sarasotafilmfest.com/2004/sponsorship/2004sponsorship.cfm

How much were the entry fees we are talking about and who is this "jury" that made the decision about the money?
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Old February 3rd, 2004, 09:28 AM   #9
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My wife and I were going to attend this festival until we looked over their website. It sure didn't look like an independent film festival to me. Looking over the schedule I found so many movies that were older hollywood movies (at $7.00 a crack). After seeing that, we decided to skip it.
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Old February 3rd, 2004, 12:19 PM   #10
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Yeah, that "may" will save their sorry behinds.

Look, this may break copyright laws, so if it does, please remove it from the site, but it's a short article from the St. Petersberg times, Feb-2-04, secion 2b, no author given.

Quote:

"The Sarasota Film Festival concluded Sunday after 10 days, hundreds of film and eight jurors who couldn't agree which movies deserved prizes. In a prepared statement, jury spokesman and Bravo channel board member Paul Gratton announced that all of the $10,000 would instead be used to establish "an emerging Florida filmmakers fund for the cultivation of the enormous talent in the region."

Filmmakers whose works had been in competition for prizes mostly refused to comment on the decision, although documentary filmmaker Laurie Kahn-Levitt (Tupperware!) said:"when you bring a fim for competition you don't expect a hung jury." Like other filmakers contactedKahn-Levitt also diplomatically noted: "But I've had a great time in Sarasota."

Audience awards selected by moviegoers -- with no cash prizes-- were bestowed on Campbell Scott's "Off the Map" (best drama), "A tale of two Pizzas (best comedy) "My Uncle Burns (best documentary)"Buddy" (best foregin language film) and "Chicken Part (best short subject). Dominic Silipo wom the Emerging Filmmaker Award -- not related to the jury's decision -- for his short drama "Mimmo & Paulie". Silipo will receive a proze package of Koday film stock and Universal Studios Florida facilities usage valued at $20,000."

End quote.

Let this be a lesson, before you enter a festival, make sure that no matter what happens, someone get their fair share of prize money.
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Old February 3rd, 2004, 03:02 PM   #11
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That sucks!

Sounds like a cop-out to me.

Almost sounds like a "bait & switch" scam. I find it hard to beleive that they could not come to decisions with regards to winners.

In the scheme of things, $10,000 is not a whole hell of allot of money. I'd be curious to see how they plan to help, or "cultivate" the "enormous talent in the region" with this money.

It seems that they have soured more people than they've helped, plus the fact that it doesn't do much for the festival's credibility.

RB
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Old February 3rd, 2004, 03:15 PM   #12
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This is true, Rick.

Do you think people would stand for it if the jury at Sundance "couldn't decide"? Or Cannes?

How is it possible to "not decide"? I just don't get it. Decide, already! Come to a decision. Conclude. Do your job. : )

It must be very disappointing.
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Old February 5th, 2004, 03:28 PM   #13
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If they've awarded cash prizes at previous festivals, then a precedent was established and legal action can be taken. Even with a 'may' in the rules.
Doesn't mean you can win though...

One can assume that the film makers were expecting the festival to act as it has in the past and award a prize, otherwise they should have been fairly warned this could happen.

Precedent does count. Otherwise this festival just killed itself off. And rightfully so.

Boycott is a wonderful and legal weapon.
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Old February 5th, 2004, 08:21 PM   #14
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True, 'boycott is a wonderful legal weapon', but might I add: "A quick phone call to the state Attorney General is worth every penny it costs."

Even a phone call from the lowest person in the AG's office into Sarasota County would at least cause a moment of pondering if this festival had been properly handled.

Try it! It might help a little bit. Worse thing they can do is tell you to buy a kite and direct you to a windy beach.
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Old February 9th, 2004, 01:32 PM   #15
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Their statements on their web site protect them from any criminal charges. You would have to sue them in civil court and have a better lawyer then they have.
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