October 2, 2012, St. John’s, Antigua — Eight global film celebrities are being wooed here for the International Film Festival of Antigua & Barbuda (IFFAB) next month.
Mekhi Thira Phifer – who played in ‘ER’ and ‘8 Mile’ – and Lacey Chabert – known from ‘Party of Five’ and ‘Mean Girls’ – are already confirmed for the November 18 to 25 festival.
Jeff Friday, a founder of the American Black Film Festival which promotes works by black film stars – will also be in Antigua & Barbuda.
Organiser Bert Kirchner is still seeking confirmation from academy award winner Marisa Tomei and film stars Lou Diamond Phillips, Matt Dillon and Kevin Dillon.
“We are hoping to get around eight of them to come to give the festival a real high profile,” Kirchner, who is chairman of the IFFAB, said.
The annual event – which began last year – costs around EC $300,000 to host and is aimed at attracting multi-million dollar film productions to the island.
“It’s the only industry still growing every year by eight to 10 per cent, and last year it was worth US $550 billion,” Kirchner said.
“We want to get some of it, a slice would be too big but a few crumbs if they would come our way would help us tremendously,” he added.
The government and sponsors fund the festival. Kirchner said securing sponsorship remains the biggest challenge.
Five weeks ago the festival was recognised by the ‘Withoutabox’ film community leading to an influx of applications from filmmakers across the globe.
“We have had over 60 entries from countries like Bangladesh, India, Brazil, Argentina, Yugoslavia, England, Germany, France, you name it, we have been inundated with film registrations,” Kirchner said.
Entries close on October 15. Organisers will then decide on 36 hours of film to be accepted and invitations will then be sent to successful applicants.
“We can’t show 60 movies, we just don’t have the time for that and there are still new ones coming in,” Kirchner said.
Films will be shown this year over six days at six venues through a ‘travelling cinema’.
The venues are: Pigeon Point Beach, Treetops – in Coolidge, Jolly Harbour, Parham, Deluxe Cinemas and Barbuda.
There will also be six days of filmmaking seminars open to the public. Sessions will be taught by experts, including a professor from Colombia University’s film programme. It will cover areas such as screenwriting, acting, production, camera and lighting.
Awards will be given this year for best feature film, short film, documentary, music video, regional film and local student movie, among others.