Admits up, profits down at Sydney film fest

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SYDNEY -- Despite rising admissions at the 2007 Sydney Film Festival, Australia's second largest festival recorded a loss for the year due largely to new film rental charges for festival titles set for commercial release.

Previously, festivals were exempt from paying film rental fees to Australian distributors.

Organizers said late Wednesday that the 2007 audience grew 5.6% to 129,672 admissions, but that the festival, second in size to Melbourne, finished the year with an operating deficit of AUS$131,000 ($113,000), after reporting an AUS$32,000 ($27,840) profit in 2006.

Ticket sales revenue for the June event rose 6.1% this year and overall revenues jumped 10.8%.

Festival director Clare Stewart said the new distributors' charges, combined with poor weather and increased staffing, had impacted financial results, but maintained a positive outlook.

"The introduction of commercial terms has long-term benefits for festival business as well as for the film industry with distributors valuing and investing in festivals screenings as part of a film's theatrical life," Stewart said.

Festival co-president Virginia Gordon said additional funding from the city of Sydney worth AUS$450,000 ($391,000) over three years and new state government funding would enable the next edition of the festival to present a competition endorsed by the International Federation of Film Producer Associations (FIAPF).
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