Film office takes hold of Boston fest

Massachusetts Film Bureau to run festival

BOSTON — The independent Massachusetts Film Bureau will take over operation of the Boston Film Festival, which unspools its 21st edition Sept. 9-18.

Robin Dawson, exec director of the bureau, will head the fest. Mark Diamond and Susan Fraine, who ran the fest when it was under the aegis of Loews Theaters and then under their own nonprofit banner, will stay on as consultants. Dawson plans to announce the formation of a screening committee to select films for this year’s event.

Announcement comes against the backdrop of a feud playing itself out on the pages of the Boston media. The state is contributing funds to both the Bureau and the Massachusetts Sports and Entertainment Commission (MSEC), both of which are claiming jurisdiction over luring film business here. The MSEC has the political connections in both the Legislature and Gov. Mitt Romney’s office, and this year’s budget — due June 30 — may end the sniping as to which one ultimately has the commonwealth’s seal of approval.

Dawson’s strong suit has been her Hollywood connections, which should greatly benefit the festival but may raise some conflicts with the bureau if she continues to wear both hats. Would a film using the bureau’s assistance in shooting in Massachusetts be guaranteed a festival berth?

If taking on the festival represents an exit strategy, however, it plays to her strengths, allowing her to remain a major influence on the local film scene.