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Sasha Levites

Interview with Marco Ursino, Executive Director of the Brooklyn International Film Festival
Related article: A Visit to the Brooklyn International Film Festival at the Brooklyn Museum

This year, filmmaker Marco Ursino served as the executive director of the ninth annual Brooklyn International Film Festival (BIFF). Formerly known as Williamsburg Brooklyn Film Festival (WBFF), BIFF was established in 1998 as the first international, competitive festival for and by independent film makers. BIFF's mission is to discover, expose, and promote independent film makers while drawing worldwide attention to Brooklyn as a center for cinema. Since 2002, BIFF has been partnering with the Brooklyn Museum, which is BIFF's main venue. Since its inception, the festival has reviewed more than 10,000 films. At the 2006 festival, over a 10-day period, 11,000 customers attented BIFF's 36 programs. Many films that have premiered at BIFF in the past few years have gone on to be released theatrically and/or are available at video store near you.Ursino spoke with New York Theatre Wire on June 19th, 2006.

How is it working out at the Brooklyn Museum in terms of a facility/location?
We like the Museum very much, having been there since 2002. It is a bit far from Manhattan, but has given to us an opportunity to reach out to an audience that we would not normally reach. An audience that has not been exposed to indie cinema.

What are you goals and are you reaching them?
Our mission is two fold: To discover and promote independent filmmakers and to draw attention to Brooklyn as a center for cinema. I feel we have been walking in the right direction and with consistent results. Also, BiFF is the first international competitive film festival in NY. For us being international makes the 190 ethnic groups living in Brooklyn proud of their heritage by bringing to Brooklyn the best films of the year from their country of origin.

What's the plan for next year?
It's a secret (and it's also too early), but I promise the 10th anniversary will be unforgettable.

How do you judge the success of the festival?
We measure our success using the following indicators: Attendance, audience feedback, number of film submissions, number of participating countries, media coverage, sponsorship, flawless technical operation. I feel we have been growing steadily every year.

Where do you think you need help?
Marketing and fundraising. But then again, who doesn't?

Can you talk a little about the theme of this year's festival, enigma-9?
The 9th Brooklyn International Film Festival has been titled Enigma-9. While people all over the world are eagerly searching for answers in a world of uncertainties, and the complexity of modern life makes it more difficult to answer moral questions, the festival decided to engage in a rather enigmatic exploration: The quest for the most delicate and difficult questions of our times. BiFF 2006 aimed to stimulate the intellect and inspire conversation among people of diverse backgrounds by exposing opposite viewpoints, inconsistencies, and ambiguities of our times.

The Brooklyn International Film Festival played at the Brooklyn Museum June 2-11, 2006. For more information, visit http:www.wbff.org

Copyright © Sasha Levites 2006

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