After Nine Years, Taos Talking Pictures Fest Declares Bankruptcy
by Eugene Hernandez
The Taos Talking Pictures Festival in New Mexico has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The festival was facing more than $100,000 in debts as it planned for its 10th anniversary event, according to interim executive director Glen Dickerson. He indicated that the group attempted to reorganize and raise funds, but said in a statement that the strategies did not succeed. As a result, the festival's board decided that they would not be able to meet creditors demands and decided to curtail operations.
"The decision surprised the staff -- it seemed like we were working on some solutions to our personnel and financial problems, and making progress," said festival artistic director Jason Silverman in an email message to festival supporters last week. "Though the end was unpleasant, my Taos Talking Pictures experience was more gratifying than I can put into words." He went on to thank those who have participated in the festival over the past decade.
"I'm very sad and disappointed that Taos Talking Pictures, an organization that has brought so many meaningful speakers, workshops and films to Taos, is closing its doors," said Dickerson in a prepared statement. "For those of us working on the staff and the Board, it's especially painful, but I think many in the community and the world of independent film will also be sorry to see it end."
"It was really remarkable how quickly the festival took on a life and identity of its own," recalled Silverman during a conversation with indieWIRE yesterday. "Taos captured people's imaginations in a way." He cited the innovative programming of the festival adding, "I think that the festival took movies and TV and other media very seriously, as something more than entertainment, and that was important to us."
In his email, Silverman said that a number of entities are interested in purchasing the Taos Talking Pictures Festival, with the intention of continuing the festival in the future. Dickerson told indieWIRE yesterday, "One of the creditors responded favorably in the eleventh hour but by then we had returned all the submissions and had closed the doors." Concluding he added, "The momentum was lost."
Silverman told indieWIRE yesterday that he and festival colleagues Kelly Clement and event founder Joshua Bryant plan to present a small festival in April on the dates that would have welcomed the 10th Taos Talking Pictures Festival, April 15-18, 2004.
The Taos Talking Pictures Festival was well-known for its annual Taos Land Grant prize which awarded five acres of land to a filmmaker. Last year's recipient was Campbell Scott for "Off the Map." Other films honored in previous years included "The Zookeeper," "Together," and "Post Concussion."
Among the programs of the organization were the festival, an annual media forum, a teen media conference, and year-round screenings and events. Attendance at the annual festival grew from 1,000 in 1995 to more than 8,000 in 2002. More than 90 films had their world or American premiere during the nine years of the festival, Silverman told indieWIRE.
"We wanted to create programming that reflected the concerns of the people of Northen New Mexico," Silverman concluded. "We also found that other people were attracted to that, We had a successful ride."