Fundraising Shortfall Forces LA Latino International Film Festival Suspension

By Reed Johnson and Julie Makinen, Los Angeles Times

After celebrating its quinceanera last year, the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival is going to have to wait until at least 2013 for its sweet 16 party. [Many NALIP members' films have been showcased at this festival in past years.]

Known as LALIFF, the festival - one of the country's largest Latino film showcases - is canceling this year's planned edition in August because of a fundraising shortfall.

Marlene L. Dermer, the fesival's co-founder and executive director, said the decision was announced to the festival's board of directors a week ago. The annual festival is produced by the nonprofit Los Angeles Film Institute.

"We don't like to call it canceled," Dermer said. "We are regrouping. But we will still be trying to do some special anniversary screenings, a day of shorts, some membership and networking events to keep our audience happy. We have been getting a lot of sad responses."

Founded in 1997, the festival began with a slate of 42 films that drew about 5,000 attendees. Last year, the festival screened 130 features, documentaries and shorts, hosted 10 panels and workshops and attracted more than 27,000 people.

"Every year we've managed to be better. We wanted to keep that going," Dermer said. "It's been 15 years amid all sorts of challenges."

Dermer said that this year the festival had received "hundreds of submissions" and had booked such theaters as the Egyptian in Hollywood for screenings.

"We had really managed to overcome all these challenges over the years," Dermer said, "even though we had made some marketing cuts and programming cuts. It is an expensive venture. We are in Hollywood. If we were in Wisconsin, we'd be the big cheese and everyone would give us stuff for free."