Film Festival Alliance Announces January 2021 Online “FilmEx” Conference for Film Festivals and Independent Exhibitors


Film Festival Alliance (FFA) has today announced the creation of FilmEx, a virtual gathering of talks, panels, and presentations focusing on innovation, technological analysis, and methods to promote equity and inclusion in the film festival industry and independent film exhibition space.

FFA has also continued its growth as an organization with several staffing changes, adding Gray Rodriguez as director of communications and promoting Barbara Twist to the role of associate director from her previously held post as director of membership.

FilmEx, named to include everyone involved in the independent film exhibition world—and coincidentally, as a nod to the legendary Los Angeles-based film festival in the 70s and 80s that eventually spawned not only AFI FEST directly, but the spirit and format that so many film festivals still employ to this day—will take place January 11-15, 2021. Film Festival Alliance has previously partnered with the Art House Convergence for their annual conference for several years. As that conference is on hiatus for 2021, FFA has stepped up to host what has become an annual touchstone gathering event for the national film festival and independent film exhibition community and industry. They are currently accepting applications for prospective speakers. FilmEx speaker forms can be found at Registration for the event will open on Tuesday, November 23.

Film Festival Alliance Executive Director Lela Meadow-Conner said: “FilmEx will set the tone for the year to come, bringing everyone in the ever-growing film festival and art house cinema communities together in the virtual space we are all currently inhabiting, to share new ideas, methods, and business practices, as our members and others continue to innovate the ways in which we present films and benefit filmmakers, distributors and audiences. We hope to join the voices of experience and bring new ones to the table, to look at the ways in which we move forward and the opportunities that exist for change,”

Film Festival Alliance has partnered with organizations including Alliance for Action, Art House Convergence, Avenue ISR, Festival Formula LTD, Firelight Media, Full Spectrum Features, IFP, Queering the Cinema, Theatrical At Home, and Together Films to provide a wide-ranging, dynamic, and comprehensive array of panels, talks, conversation tracks, and events to process, deconstruct, and look towards the future of our industry.

Among the FilmEx topics informed by, but not limited to, the experiences of film festivals dealing with the realities of operating during the pandemic, will be; Building Loyalty & Audience Engagement in the Virtual Spaces; Next Level Grant Writing; Balancing Sponsorship in the Virtual & IRL Worlds; Redefining Success from An Experiential POV; Confronting Reduced Bandwidth & Oversaturation; Staffing Sustainability: Retention in the Age of Covid; and Rethinking Programming Categories & Barriers.

Additionally, participants at FilmEx will connect with this year’s FFA Leadership Lab Fellows, engage in conversations focused squarely on continuing efforts to improve equity and inclusion within their organizations and programming, meet with distributors, key industry vendors, and even participate in virtual karaoke, film trivia events, select screenings, and other social events—all in an effort to give film festivals and independent film exhibitors the tools they will need to continue to connect, innovate, streamline, and build upon the success many film festivals and cinemas have experienced despite stark challenges presented to them this year.

Film Festival Alliance has been cited in numerous interviews with executive directors of regional film festivals across the country as having been instrumental in aiding their success throughout the year as they innovated and brought about measures to present their events in the midst of the pandemic. As FFA’s member film festivals, on the whole, went beyond surviving in a year beset with unforeseen hurdles and roadblocks, to instead, expand their audience and branding reach via virtual presentations as well as increasing their support of filmmakers, Film Festival Alliance also grew its activity, consultation, and events since March which has demanded more staff to support those efforts.
“It is an amazing testament to our film festival community that in one year’s time, we’ve been able to triple our consulting staff. The need to come together as an industry has never been more evident,” said Meadow-Conner. “Barbara Twist has been essential this year in helping our organization and membership navigate these uncharted waters. Gray Rodriguez brings marketing experience from many different points of view, that will greatly support the sustainability and growth of our programming. She has been a valuable member of the Alliance and the regional festival landscape, and I’m thrilled that she is joining our team.”

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