Cockatoo Island Film Festival Creative Director Allanah Zitserman poses with Director and Screenwriter Paul Thomas Anderson during the Inaugural Cockatoo Island Film Festival
The organisers of the first Cockatoo Island Film Festival have vowed to stage the event again next year despite a significant loss this year.
Accounts are still being finalised but ticket sales during the five-day event on Sydney Harbour were down on expectations.
Co-creative directors Allannah Zitserman and Stavros Kazantzidis estimate the festival attracted 34,000 patrons on paid or free tickets – well below the 40,000 sought.
But rather than being dispirited, especially after a troubled opening night, Zitserman says the couple are "really happy" with the attendance.
"We delivered the event we set out to do and we know now how to make it bigger and better in the future," she says. "Every single sponsor wants to come back.
"Yes, they recognised there were some teething problems. But the feedback we’re getting is 'this is great for Sydney'."
The festival, which finished on Sunday night, included screenings of more than 80 feature films, concerts, talks and a yacht race.
The couple expect to lose part of their $500,000 investment in an event that cost $2million to run. They stumped up their own funds to complement sponsorship by the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, NSW Mining and Hoyts.
"We know we’re up for some decent money here," says Zitserman. "But we didn’t go into this blindly. We knew we were going to lose. It’s just how much are we going to lose."
Kazantzidis says they have a property for sale at Dungog in the Hunter Valley, where the couple have run a film festival for the past five years, to cover their costs.
Less happy was a Willoughby couple, Matt and Carol Ridley, who paid $185 for tickets but failed to see any films after being directed to the wrong ferry wharf. "We were very upset," Matt Ridley says.
"The film festival printed ferry information which was incorrect and, as a result of that, we lost our chance to go to the festival as well as our $185."
Zitserman says the Ridleys' experience was the only glitch with the ferry service and outside the organisers' control.
In the festival competition, Paraguay’s 7 Boxes won the Golden Feather for best dramatic film, Germany’s This Ain’t California won best documentary, the special jury prize for artistic vision went to Breathing from Austria, and Bec Kingma’s Silent Night from Australia won best short film.
The writer-director Ella Bancroft won the $20,000 young indigenous documentary fellowship and Jo Anne Brechin was named young filmmaker of the year.