Friday, April 12, 2024

Recapping the Downtown Boca Film Festival

The Downtown Boca Film Festival offered, in advertising parlance, a new look but the same great taste.

The festival, which closed its weeklong residency in the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center this past Sunday,

began five years ago as the Delray Beach Film Festival.  According to Christie Artura-Klammer, whose firm handled the public relations for the festival, the DBFF outgrew its small and outspread origins, prompting the move southward.

“The way it was structured before, it was spread out into different areas,” Artura-Klammer says. “Not having everything centrally located made it a lot more difficult than it had to be.”

The old Delray festival was the farthest thing from communal. Film lovers had to travel from the Regal Delray to the Crest Theatre to Movies of Delray, traveling a considerable distance across the city. Rechristened the Downtown Boca Film Festival this year, the organization now had, for the first time, a central hub for screenings and information, in the form of the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center. The nearby Boca Raton Museum of Art also hosted a few screenings, as did Movies of Delray, for old time’s sake.

Attendance numbers are still being tallied via ballots. Artura-Klammer can’t say for sure if the move saw an increase in overall attendance, but, “considering the length of time the festival had to notify the public and get things created, it went very well.”

Indeed, Artura-Klammer’s firm was not contracted until January, and details for the festival were still being ironed out a month before its start date. The film lineup hit the festival’s website less than two weeks before opening night.

“That impacted people being able to purchase tickets on advance, which helps for these films, and for us to promote and market them,” Artura-Klammer says.

Still, the black box theater in the Cultural Arts Center was, on several occasions, packed to capacity, and the presence of foot traffic in Mizner Park attracted patrons who didn’t otherwise wouldn’t know about the fest. The free outdoor screenings of extreme sports documentaries – a hallmark of the DBFF from year one – proved enormously popular. Other audience favorites included the Australian romance “Summer Coda” and “Kinyarwanda,” an award-winning drama set during the Rwandan genocide.

It’s too early to tell what the future holds for this scrappy little festival, but with a strong new home in place, it’s on firmer ground than ever before.

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