Spotlight: Bahamas Int’l Film Festival

About 75 pix unspooled, nearly 10,000 tickets were torn

Films are screened in the middle of a hotel swimming pool. Parties are held at the Las Vegas-style Atlantis Resort. A filmmakers retreat is held at the exotic “treehouse in the sky” resort home of fashion designer Peter Nygard, on the cay that bears his name.

All these set the tone at yet another filmathon born last year, bringing cinematic celebration — and a good number of tourists — to the Bahamian islands.

The Bahamas Film Festival — which holds its second run Dec. 8-11 — came about after a two-year campaign spearheaded by exec director Leslie Vanderpool, with key sponsors the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Atlantis Resort.

The team brought in Mitch Levine and Jon Fitzgerald of Festival Consulting Group to draft a blueprint and handle promotion, ticketing and travel.

Some 75 pics unspooled and nearly 10,000 tickets were torn for an aud comprised of Bahamian residents and about 30% tourists, largely from the U.S. Program included a sidebar on Caribbean cinema and a tribute to Roger Corman, who attended.

For the lucky dozen filmmakers at the retreat, things went well beyond the typical, as they were treated to massages, boxing lessons, and Sea-Doo rides. Party locales included the posh Mountbatten House in Nassau.

Given its locale, the first-year fest wasn’t without hiccups. As Fitzgerald points out, “Getting prints past customs can be a nightmare and little things are crazy, like a pack of Post-its that costs $9.”

But, he says, the isles also brought smiles. “Several filmmakers told me it was their best festival experience.”

Nicole Guillemet, director of Miami’s film fest, has been added as a strategic consultant for this year.

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