The Little Rock Film Festival announced today that after nine years they will shut down operations making this most recent season the final year.
The festival has become a highlight event in recent years, growing to become a large event spread across multiple venues in the downtown area and having a large economic impact during the week-long spread for many restaurants and bars in the area. The move in the last few years to have the Ron Robinson Theater located in the Arcade building on Clinton Ave has had a dramatic enhancement on the quality of the event, being a flagship venue for the city.
Additionally the festival seemed to be having an impact on the number of films being shot in the city lately. By familiarizing producers with the city through the festival there has been a rise in the number of films that have used central Arkansas as a backdrop for movies.
An official statement from the film festival was posted on their website today that read:
After 9 great years, each one bigger and arguably better than the last, The Little Rock Film Festival is retiring.
We are proud of the Arkansas filmmaking community that we have helped to inspire and promote, and pleased to have brought hundreds of the top independent filmmakers from around the World to Central Arkansas each year to share their work directly with audiences.
Along the way, we were able to show off our beautiful city and state, and provide the kind of cultural entertainment we believe is essential for a city like Little Rock, to attract and retain the young people it needs to prosper and compete.
Thank you to the sponsors, festivalgoers, filmmakers and volunteers who have been a part of this fantastic ride. We love you all.
There is no official reason given for the closing, we have reached out to our contact at the festival and will update as soon as we hear something.
“After examining the work ahead of us without the resources and time that the festival needed it made it difficult to put out the quality of a festival that is needed for future years. We didn’t want to do a lesser version of the festival,” spokesperson Matt DeCample tells us. “Anything is possible from the future (with regards to a new festival), but right now it just was not in the best interest of the festival to continue.”
The festival says a rise in competing festivals around the state has had no impact on the decision. Little Rock has maintained plans several years out to help keep competition low.
The recently launched Bentonville film festival drew national attention in part due to the large amount of money put behind the event from various sources associated with Walmart. Last year the Bentonville film festival took place one week before the Little Rock festival that likely had an effect on the attending films.
Little Rock Film Festival never had the same vast amount of money and resources available to hire full time staff and relied mostly on volunteers for many of the jobs. Executive director Gabe Gentry left the position following the most recent festival.
We certainly hate to see Little Rock Film Festival go, hopefully it will not take long for another flagship festival in the city to fill the void left.