Giffoni Film Festival Director Pursues Loan in Qatar

7:05 PM PST 04/19/2012 by Eric J. Lyman

Beleaguered by financial problems and unable to drum up benefactors in Italy, the annual children's cinema festival is looking elsewhere to save to save the 42-year-old institution.

ROME – Italy’s historic Giffoni Film Festival has turned to Qatar in an attempt to stay afloat ahead of the festival’s 42nd edition, Italian newspapers reported Thursday.

Giffoni, Europe’s largest film festival that caters to children, is set to take place this year July 14-24, but the event has been put in jeopardy due to budgetary issues. Italian news articles say that festival director Claudio Gubitosi has turned to Qatari sheikhs to ask for a €4 million ($5.3 million) loan to help save the festival, which takes place in the Italian village of Giffoni Valle Piana, around 50 miles east of Naples.

“I am leaving for Qatar, where I will ask the government, its sheikh, and his wife who is a lover of culture to adopt us,” Gubitosi was quoted as saying in Corriere della Sera.

The festival also issued an open appeal for financial support on the event’s web site.

Government backing and private sponsorship money has been evaporating all over Italy, sending many of the country’s myriad festivals scurrying for new sources of revenue. But Giffoni’s strategy of direct appeals to potential backers is an unusual one.

“We launched an appeal to 500 Italian entrepreneurs, but have received no response,” Gubitosi said. “We are ready for a great festival, but without support, this could be the last edition of the Giffoni Film Festival.”

The economic worries are a stroke of bad luck for the festival, which is coming off one of its most successful editions yet. Last year, the festival attracted a record 140,000 viewers over the festival’s 11 days, including children from across Italy and 50 other countries. The festival was one of the European launching pads for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.

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