Foundation hit hard by cutbacks in gov't funding, private donors

BOSTON — After 28 years, the Boston Film and Video Foundation will be shutting down.

Long a place for aspiring and independent filmmakers to take classes and get their works shown — including at the regional New England Film and Video Festival — it was unable to survive in the current financial climate.

The organization had been hard hit by cutbacks in arts funding both from government and private donors. One BFVF executive estimated that their income from contributions had declined by more than $70,000 just in the past year, with nothing in sight to take up the slack. The organization voted last month to discontinue course offerings and wind up its affairs.

Stepping into the breach is a local for-profit production company, Film Shack, headed by filmmaker Robert Patton-Spruill, whose “Squeeze” was picked up and distributed by Miramax in 1997. Film Shack will set up a nonprofit subsidiary, Boston Education Film and Video Assn., which hopes to offer production classes as early as this summer. It will also assume responsibility for the New England Fest, whose 29th stanza — previously set for this March — will now roll in October.

The BFVF was important to Boston area filmmakers not just for courses and screenings, but as a clearinghouse for the local film community. In spite of staff layoffs and a move to a smaller space, the organization couldn’t make the numbers work. The decision to shut down was made last month, but the deal with Film Shack was not closed until Feb. 5.

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