FilmFest DC Director Explains Impending Closure After 28th Year

“It’s taken almost everything we have to do this year,” sighs FilmFest DC Founding Director Tony Gittens at a press event to preview the upcoming 28th annual Washington, DC International Film Festival (aka FilmFest DC) late last week.  Even while announcing its much-anticipated line-up in offerings for this year’s April 17-27th showings, festival leadership was sad to announce the end of the long-standing event.

For the last 27 years, FilmFest DC has brought examples of excellence from around the globe to present their DC premieres, and provided festival attendees the opportunity to meet internationally renowned Directors who make appearances at the festival to show and discuss their work.

“We’ve looked at the budget for next year and just don’t know where $250 thousand can come from,” he lamented.  Adding that, while sad, he’d rather look at this year’s event as a celebration of the festival’s great offerings over almost three decades.   “I feel like I should play that Pharrell Williams Happy song.”

Gittens cited losses in government arts grant funding as well as rising costs required to bring and show quality international films stateside as reasons for the impending festival closure.  But even as he made his explanations to the media, he said he wouldn’t stop hoping for a miracle to happen.

“A lot of people come up to us and say. ‘I saw this and it changed my life.’  That’s worth more than $250 thousand in my opinion.”

*Lead image, Tony Gittens (Festival Director) with Shireen Ghareeb (Deputy Director).  Photo by Evans Wyatt

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