Sunday, February 20, 2005
Although the Free Friday Foreign Film Series was new on the Steamboat Springs cultural scene, it was already on its way to becoming a cornerstone event. On film nights, all the seats at Citizens Hall were full, and still people came, willing to stand or sit on the floor.
After the films ended, audiences filled the lobby of Centennial Hall to eat cheese, drink wine and discuss the films. The event and the food were free, and both were popular. That is why so many people were surprised when the series was canceled quietly this winter.
The decision was made in December by the Steamboat Springs Arts Council board of directors. The decision was posted on the door of the Depot Art Center and sent in an e-mail to members of the film committee.
The Film Series started four years ago at the impetus of Bill Hamilton, who has been involved in film education for most of his career.
The decision to cancel the series, in part, came about when Hamilton's busy schedule would no longer allow him to be involved.
"We were in a staff transition," said Arts Council Executive Director Nancy Kramer. "We lost volunteers for (the film series), and it was hard on the staff. The audience was declining, and the board had to make a decision.
"Unless you have volunteers, you can't keep something like the Film Series going. We are a nonprofit, but we have to make business decisions. We tried to communicate with them and make sure someone took ownership of the series, but no one stepped forward," Kramer said.
The Arts Council needed to focus on other programs, she said, "but we are dedicated to filling the gap for film lovers when we can." The Arts Council is a sponsor of Dori Weiss and Christian Nyby's Thursday filmmaking classes, and Mountain Film Festival organizer Mike Martin recently joined the Council's board.
When Hamilton heard the news that the Film Series had been canceled, he was disappointed and immediately started thinking of ways to start it again.
He said that he had asked for help with the series because his work schedule did not always allow him to be at Centennial Hall on Fridays to start the films.
The second time around, Hamilton plans to follow a similar template of the past four years, but this time, he will be organizing it through ArtLink, he said.
He will kick off the new series in the fall, he said, with a student film festival much like the one he hosted in 2004. The festival will feature student filmmakers from Northwest Colorado's elementary, middle and high schools.
"It will take awhile to get everything in place," he said. "But the (film series) will be restructured, and it will resurface."
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