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I had to do a double-take when I saw the headline yesterday: GEN ART TO CLOSE ITS DOORS AFTER SIXTEEN YEARS. The Gen Art organization, which organizes networking and exhibition events for film, music and fashion in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and several other cities, is closing its doors? After what was an amazingly successful New York festival just two weeks ago?

Well, the news apparently is true and joins a wave of bad news for specialized events around the USA (and probably the world). A few months ago, CINEVEGAS FILM FESTIVAL, a well respected festival in boom town Las Vegas run by former Sundance Film Festival programmer Trevor Groth, announced it would skip this year's event and may not be able to come back again. Las Vegas has gone from boom to bust and the economic infrastructure for support (patrons, sponsors, high price passholders) has eroded. In a country where the rich feels a little less rich, it hurts the rest of us big time.

Another potential casaulty is the PALM BEACH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (, which I attended just last week. The severe austerity that has settled over once prosperous Palm Beach County was definitely felt in the Festival's more subdued presence. Rumors were flying that this could be the Festival's last, which is a great shame, because it is a source of great cultural worth for its culture-starved communities. But when the rich stop giving, the not-for-profit cards start to fall, especially a festival like this one that gave away the lion's share of its profits to support local film education.

Back to Gen Art.....which posted its closing notice on its website on Wednesday. The New York festival showcase, which again featured 7 films plus 7 parties, was enthusiastically attended. Opening night was held at the Ziegfield Theater, the last remaining movie palace in Manhattan that seats over 1500 people. And the theater was PACKED with many refused entrance at the door. The films were consistently strong and the celebrity red carpets sufficiently sizzle worthy. And with Accura as its main sponsor for the past 3 years, the GEN ART FILM FESTIVAL seemed to be on secure financial footing.

"It is with an extremely heavy heart that we are are posting this. After struggling for the past 18 months since the economic crisis, Gen Art has finally succumbed to the recession,” Gen Art Founders Ian and Stefan Gerard wrote on their website ( “However when a major, new, corporate partnership unexpectedly collapsed a few weeks ago, we found ourselves without sufficient resources or time to overcome this sudden and substantial loss of revenue. We have now halted all operations, have let go all of our amazing staff, and shuttered the business that we hope was in some small way was as close to your heart - as it was ours.”

The film division has been headed by Jeff Abramson for the past 10 years, and not only has he made the New York showcase an important part of the yearly film calendar in New York, he also expanded it recently to Chicago. "I think about the impact we've had on the industry and the help we have provided for filmmakers, and that makes me feel satisfied", Abramson said.

Let's hope this recent wave of bad news is cresting, but perhaps like the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it has not yet reached the shore. Hold tight, film festivals, you've got a treasure trove of support out there.

Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor


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Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

The Ultimate Guide to the New York Film, Video and New Media Scene.

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