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How Many is Too Many?

How Many is Too Many?

A couple of days ago, fellow film festival programmer Tom Hall offered some thoughts about the Fall fest season. In his post, he discussed and related to Eugene Hernandez’s comparison of the daunting 350 films at Toronto versus the more streamlined selections of the 2006 Hamptons Film Festival or the upcoming indie-film mecca known as the Telluride Film Festival. I have to say, I agree with everyone here. While Toronto can justify a huge lineup because the international film industry comes out en masse, it’s still a rather large program. I find myself thankful that I was at Cannes, as I’ve already seen several TIFF titles. At least at Toronto, you’re likely to find quality in the large program… it would be another thing altogether if there was nothing but duds. I will have to miss dozens of excellent films at Toronto, but there’s more than enough of an audience to find them.

The idea of “how many is too many” films has particular resonance for me, because we find ourselves at SXSW, wanting to scale back a bit. We screened a little over 100 features (and about 90 shorts) at the 2006 festival. That’s just too many. As a result, you run the risk of disservicing the filmmakers, the audiences, and the whole experience. When we announced the call for entries of our 2007 festival, I was quoted in the press release as saying: “For 2007, we’re going to do what we can to focus our energy on the best program possible. This will make the selection process even more competitive…” Essentially, this means that our program will be tighter. Still hefty and expansive, but not unwieldy for attendees. Hopefully, everyone will find a benefit in that.

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