Sunday, January 6, 2013

A world of cinema — all that's needed is an audience

Posted By on Sun, Jan 6, 2013 at 10:49 PM

IN DEEP: Ocean of an Old Man is one of the featured films at the Tampa Bay International Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 12.
  • IN DEEP: Ocean of an Old Man is one of the featured films at the Tampa Bay International Film Festival on Sat., Jan. 12.

We've all heard the old show biz adage: the show must go on.

But unless the Tampa Bay International Film Festival pre-sells enough tickets by Mon., Jan. 7, the show won't be able to go on as planned next weekend.

The festival is set to be held at AMC Veterans 24 movie theater in Tampa next Saturday, Jan. 12. But in order to guarantee use of the theater, the festival needs to sell 286 tickets ahead of time, said the event's founder and promoter Mike Rembis. So far, zero tickets have been sold.

The lack of sales baffles Rembis, who has relied on word-of-mouth marketing. "We have over 700 'likes' on Facebook, and so many people are re-Tweeting us," he said. "I know the message is out there. But what do we have to do to get people to show up?"

In addition to its most recent sponsor MobAdWin, a mobile marketing company, making calls on behalf of the festival, Rembis has come up with an unconventional method for trying to unload a mass of tickets in a short period of time: he's offering a presenting sponsorship for the festival on eBay. The starting bid is $2,860 and comes with 115 day passes to the festival.

"Basically, the entire festival is up for grabs," Rembis said. "It's a Hail Mary play." He added that such a sponsorship would be perfect for a local business owner with a love of film, and the tickets could be given away to friends, family, and customers.

All of the ticket-sale drama detracts focus from what's really important: the festival's high-quality programming. "I've put together a day of thought-provoking entertainment that focuses on real world issues," Rembis said. And people might not get the chance to see it.

Through a partnership with the Global Lens Collective, the festival will offer three feature films and five short films.

The first feature of the day, Ordinary People, is a Serbian film about a busload of young soldiers struggling with morality after being sent to execute a number of civilians in the countryside. Ocean of an Old Man, a Hindi film, takes place in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. It conveys the struggles of an elderly British teacher as he comes to terms with the tragedy and his inability to accept the loss of his young students. The final feature, Days, is a Georgian film about a middle-aged, unemployed heroin addict and his financial and familial struggles as a result of his addiction.

The event's short films all feature Florida filmmakers, primarily students at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

Featured films are paired with shorts in blocks. Tickets are $10 per block of films or $25 for an all-day pass. For more information about purchasing tickets, go here.

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