Changed film series to return

Wine socials to be dropped, commentary to be added

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Money, officials said, was the biggest reason for the recent cancellation of the Free Friday Film Series.

About 15 people gathered Monday at the Depot Art Center to discuss the future of the film series, which was canceled without warning earlier this winter. For four years, film lovers had gathered at Centennial Hall to watch somewhat obscure foreign films that would never show in local theaterS.

"We just ran out of gas, but we are open to suggestions," said Steamboat Springs Arts Council board president Nora Parker.

Of the many problems the film series faced, money was the biggest hurdle.

Each film was followed by a wine-and-cheese social, and the costs for those socials added up: The Arts Council had to pay a $150 fee for each event in which it used its liquor license outside of the Depot, Parker said. That figure was compounded by a $177 insurance fee for each event involving alcohol and an additional $150 spent on wine and cheese for the after-film social hour. The Arts Council also had to pay two or three staff members $16 an hour for four hours at each film series event.

Although Film Guild members were asked to pay a $250 annual membership fee, the Arts Council still ran in the red with the event, Par-ker said.

She asked that any reconstituted Film Series re-evaluate the need for the after-film wine and cheese discussion period.

Instead, the Arts Council has been approaching restaurants about sponsoring a cocktail hour after each foreign film so people can meet and discuss what they had just seen. Restaurants have been receptive to the idea, Parker said.

Those gathered for Monday's brainstorming session agreed they attended the film series for the film and not for the free wine. They agreed not to dwell on why the series was cancelled, but rather to focus on how they could bring it back.

Filmmakers Dori Weiss and Mike Martin led the discussion.

Weiss proposed a redesigned Foreign Film Series that would open with a brief lecture about the film to be shown led by someone with a film background.

Weiss and Martin will lead a film committee, which is being reestablished to choose future films.

Although the Arts Council still has two dates -- March 18 and April 1 -- to show films, Weiss and Martin think the series redesign should be entered slowly.

"I want to do this right," Weiss said. "When we come out, I want to come out as a well-oiled machine. I want to make it fun. I want to make it entertaining."

Weiss and Martin predicted the Free Friday Foreign Film Series would return in its new incarnation by fall.

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