IFC Free Film Fest Coming to 10 Cities

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The Independent Film Channel will bring its fare to 10 cities this summer as part of a traveling film festival.

The newly created IFC Free Film Fest will bring three independently produced favorites -- the Coen brothers’ Raising Arizona, The Princess Brideand Napoleon Dynamite --to municipal parks in major markets served by Comcast.

The channel is in discussions with officials in each city to settle on the venue for the film festival. IFC executive vice president and general manager Evan Shapiro said the network is looking for locations that can comfortably fit thousands without feeling “crushed.”

The family-friendly films will be shown on three successive nights per city on a 40-foot-by-20-foot inflatable screen constructed for the festival.

“Independent films have a wider audience than ever before,” Shapiro said, noting that last year’s Oscar-winning best film, Crash,was the first winner in that category that was an acquisition from a film festival.

Each of the chosen films is rated PG-13 or G, so they are appropriate to be shown, uncut, in an open environment. Although the titles aren’t fresh, families are more likely to have viewed them on video, not on a big screen, Shapiro said.

The tour begins July 10 in Comcast’s home market of Philadelphia, followed by moves to Atlanta; Miami; Memphis, Tenn.; Denver; San Francisco; Seattle; Detroit; Boston; and Washington D.C., in that order.

At each stop, IFC will use the film festival to promote Comcast’s triple-play bundle with interactive stations at the events.

To showcase IFC’s online content and provide media with a local news hook to tout the event’s arrival, the film festival will also feature the IFC Media Lab Lounge, where film attendees can view short films from top local filmmakers.

Online video-sharing sites are just “dumping grounds,” Shapiro said, adding, “We promote actual filmmakers. With the democratization of digital filmmaking, [creators] don’t have to live in just Hollywood.”

Event-goers who visit the lab can enter to win an HD camera.

Comcast has committed to national cross-channel promotion of the film festival, according to IFC. The channel will buy local print and radio to promote the upcoming film festival, Shapiro added.

IFC is negotiating for a national sponsor for the film festival, according to the executive.

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