The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has awarded a $50,000 grant to underwrite the 2009 Telluride Film Festival's Guest Director program, this year featuring "Sideways" writer-director Alexander Payne. The grant comes in a year when organizers of the Telluride festival have seen a striking drop in support from corporate sponsors, telling indieWIRE yesterday that they had to look to other sources to maintain the quality of the event this year.
This marks the second year that AMPAS is supporting the Telluride Guest Director program and the latest round of ongoing AMPAS support for the festival.
"We took a hit like every body else," festival managing director Julie Huntsinger said. It wasn't just that some corprations were financially strapped, Huntsinger said, but some potential sponsors didn't want to appear frivolous in their spending, so many festivals like Telluride have been affected. This meant the festival had to other sources of support, including AMPAS.
"It's very gratifying for the Academy to be able to support this program, especially at a time when arts funding is so critical," said Academy President Tom Sherak in a statement. "That the festival has chosen one of our members, and a former governor, as guest director simply enriches this year's gift."
The economic downturn created some tense moments as Telluride organizers were putting together this weekend's festival, which draws about 6,000 people to the small Colorado mountain town and prides itself on a tradition of high quality exhibition.
"Some [financial] elements have challenged us more than last year," Huntsinger told indieWIRE, adding, "We made a pact to one another, in the fall of last year, that we would not compromise on our program one iota."
Tomorrow afternoon indieWIRE will unveil the lineup for the 2009 Telluride Film Festival and publish an interview with the festival's organizers. The festival begins this Friday, September 4 and continues through Monday evening in Colorado. indieWIRE's Eugene Hernandez and Anne Thompson will both be reporting all weekend from the festival.
Eugene Hernandez contributed to this story.