November 4, 2016
To our Big Island Film Festival Ohana (family):
As you have likely seen from our earlier message, there are a number of factors that have caused us to hold on accepting films for the 2017 Big Island Film Festival. These factors include the health of Co-Founder and Executive Producer Jan Sears, along with uncertain financing.
We are more than grateful to Hawaii Tourism Authority and its County Product Enrichment Program (CPEP), and to Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi, for their generous sponsorship and support. Without it, we certainly would not have been able to bring you BIFF for the last eleven years.
This is an election year, and we have a new incumbent mayor. Additionally, changes in the CPEP program make for more financial uncertainty. As a result, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the Big Island Film Festival for 2017.
This is as disappointing for us as it likely is for you. We have hundreds of returning filmmakers, celebrities, government officials, sponsors, educators, volunteers, reporters, and patrons who have supported this event. We have been blessed to meet and welcome them into the Big Island Film Festival Ohana. We are also extremely grateful for everyone’s ongoing support, encouragement, time, effort, and participation in the Big Island Film Festival as one of Hawaii’s major festivals.
What does the future hold? As many of you know, Leo and Jan are moving to the mainland (Iowa) to be closer to their son and his family (in fact, they are there now as Jan is obtaining medical consults from a top hospital). Our intent in 2018 is to continue running the logistics of the Big Island Film Festival from Iowa, while continuing to host the event and have local volunteers support activity on the Big Island. However, as all of you know – festivals of any type need two key things to be successful: funding and focused/dedicated planners. At this time, we don’t have the availability of either to plan and execute the film festival this year.
So, our hope is that the Big Island Film Festival will be back in 2018 (accepting films in Fall 2017). All of this is contingent upon the ongoing financial support of Hawaii (both state and county) governments, the continued support of our loyal sponsors, and the time/effort support of our “feet on the ground” volunteers back in Hawaii. We will continue to keep our Facebook page and Web site active and encourage you to share your good news/success stories with the Big Island Film Festival community.
In the meantime, we appreciate your patience, understanding, and encouragement on this decision, and look forward to sharing some positive updates (both on Jan and funding sources) in the future.
Thank you all again for your support of the Big Island Film Festival!
A hui hou (until we meet again)-
Leo and Jan Sears