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Council cuts donation to film festival in Quinte West

By Matthew Murray [1]

BELLEVILLE – Quinte West city council has voted to give money to a local film festival, but not as much as originally planned.

Council voted 7-4 on Monday night to pass a proposal that saw $25,000 from the 2016 operating budget go toward the festival, which is to be called Film Street – Cinema on the Trent. The number is far off from the $100,000 that Toronto International Film Festival [2] founders Bill Marshal and Henk Van Der Kolk had asked council for in February to run a national film festival [3] in Trenton.

Council had already voted to invest $20,000 in the film festival, so Monday’s vote brings the total to $45,000.

Coun. Fred Kuypers said that regardless of the amount, he would not be supporting the resolution, adding that he was worried that Marshal and Van Der Kolk would come back for more money from the city later on. He has not yet seen a good plan for the film festival, and does not want to “squander” a lot of taxpayer money on the event, he said.

Coun. Duncan Armstrong, who first approached Marshal and Van Der Kolk with the idea for the festival in 2015, asked council how a dollar amount could be placed on having TIFF associated with the local event. The benefits of that association are priceless, he said, citing national sponsorship, curation of the films by TIFF officials and national media coverage. Armstrong said he could not support the motion to give only $25,000 because in his mind it was a step backward.

“This council is turning its back on a once-in-a-lifetime tourism opportunity for this community, an opportunity that would provide jobs, enhance economic development and have the image that Quinte West is an international destination for arts and culture,” he said.

Mayor Jim Harrison, who voted in favour of giving $25,000, said that he feels it’s important to support local filmmakers through the festival. In response, Armstrong said that enhancing the festival with local talent is important to Marshal and Van Der Kolk, and that there is no one in this region with the stature and expertise that they have.

Harrison responded: “Why don’t we have anyone here that could accomplish that? Because we haven’t supported local, that’s why. And that’s what we should be doing.”

After the vote, Armstrong said that in his view both the city and local film talent had missed out on a great opportunity because of council’s decision not to give the $100,000.

“The local filmmakers don’t seem to understand the impact that (Marshal and Van Der Kolk’s support) could have on them,” he said. “They would have had doors open that they never dreamed of having open.”