Saturday, June 27, 2009
Audio interview: Michael Cain, Artistic Director and CEO of DALLAS Film Society
Michael gives us some insider insight into the recent announcement that AFI will no longer be associated with the annual festival.
Like most people in town, I was caught profoundly flat-footed when I heard last Wednesday (June 17) that the letters "AFI" would no longer be applicable (or attachable) to the DALLAS International Film Festival. After all, the two entities had been partnered up in seemingly quite successful fashion for the last three years; I cut my Pegasus News event-coverage teeth on the first year of the festival, hanging out with my trusty Canon at red carpets and taking in as many films as I could write about.
Figuring that the story deserved more than just a posting of the press release, I contacted Michael Cain, CEO and Artistic Director of what used to be called AFI Dallas (and which henceforth will be known as the DALLAS International Film Festival, as administered by the DALLAS Film Society) to drill down on the announcement.
Though he was busy preparing for a long-anticipated European vacation, Cain kindly consented to talk with me by phone.
Here are highlights of our conversation, as included in the appended 12-minute audio file:
* "From the outset, we were always at 'let's see where we are after three years.'"
* "If we were going to step out and brand ourselves as DALLAS, then this was the time to do it."
* "The good thing for us was that the relationship with AFI was so successful that it allowed us to cut years off of the process of building a film festival in Dallas."
* The DALLAS Film Society will continue to add more year-round events, in addition to the annual festival.
* Money (in terms of AFI sponsorship and consulting fees) was only a small part of the decision to end the association.
* How Michael's role is likely to change under the new organization (HINT: he will actually have MORE on his plate.)
* Community partners will become increasingly involved.
* Will Sarah Harris and James Faust be staying on as festival programmers?
* The festivals that Michael looks to as examples of how a Dallas festival ought to be run.
* The DALLAS Film Society is already in conversations with AFI for celebrity-themed events to take place during other times of the year.
* Michael's reaction to the Academy's decision to nominate ten films for Best Picture.
* "I haven't even always watched the Academy Awards, but I see what it does for the industry."
* "I really hope they're about to be in a process of just acceleration and growth." - re. film industry professionals, and how they've been distracted in recent years by strikes, threats of strikes, and a weak economy.
* He will NOT be attending the Moscow International Film Festival. (But that's O.K., because his actual destinations sound much more relaxing.)
* Prospects for DALLAS Film's collaborative undertakings with the forthcoming Dallas Center for Performing Arts.