The 25th Anniversary Virginia Film Festival started off by celebrating its history, and finished off by making some of its own.
Festival officials announced Thursday that the 2012 event, held Nov. 1-4, shattered all previous records for box office sales, attendance and sold-out screenings. Box office sales this year came in at $108,043 – a 20 percent increase over its previous record of $90,077, set in 2010. This year’s festival drew 27,299 attendees, topping the previous all-time record of 24,077, set in 2011. Finally, this year’s festival featured 42 sold out-screenings, up from 27 last year.
The festival is presented by the University of Virginia’s College of Arts & Sciences.
“We could not be more thrilled with the results from this year’s festival,” director Jody Kielbasa said. “We had a truly extraordinary four days, are so thankful to live and work in a community for whom the arts are so vitally important. We are also so grateful to be supported by a University that adds immeasurably to our efforts in so many important ways. Our continued growth is evidence that we are on the right track when it comes to our mission to celebrate and share the magic of the movies with our community, both on and off the University Grounds.”
The festival’s success this year will last long after the final films were screened, thanks to a pair of important fundraising developments.
Festival officials announced Thursday that the 25th Anniversary Challenge campaign, created thanks to the generosity of the Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, earned $35,799.25 in gifts for the festival. The campaign, which matched all gifts given to the festival from late August through the festival’s conclusion, featured 93 participants, including 57 new donors to the festival.
“We are so grateful for, and humbled by, the support of those who answered the call for our 25th Anniversary Challenge,” Kielbasa said. “This campaign would never have happened without the Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, and we could not be more thankful for their remarkable commitment.”
And Wednesday night, in a special reception to mark the opening of the new Regal Cinemas IMAX at Stonefield, Regal officials presented Kielbasa with a check for $28,500 as the first of three local beneficiaries of its “Charity Preview Events.” Regal Cinemas donated all proceeds from Monday to the festival, when it welcomed 7,000 local patrons in to enjoy $2 movies, popcorn and soft drinks.
“We are truly astounded by the generosity shown us by our longtime friends and partners at Regal Entertainment as they debut what is a stunningly beautiful new facility,” Kielbasa said. “What an extraordinary gesture, and one that will help us continue to expand what we are able to offer all aspects of this community – not only during the festival, but all year around.”
Premiere sponsors for the 2012 Virginia Film Festival included The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the AV Company, The Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation (Richard M. Adler and Joseph Erdman, trustees), Flow Automotive Companies, Regal Entertainment Group and the Virginia Film Office.