Christian film festival proposed for summer

Saturday, November 2, 2002

Plans are coming together for a 10-day Christian film festival and the establishment of a film institute in Eureka Springs next summer.

Roger Redden, festival director of Branson, Mo., made a brief presentation to the City Advertising and Promotion Commission (CAPC) during its regular meeting Thursday.

"We have been working on this for the past two years," he said, "and things are beginning to really come together.

"We are looking for real estate to buy, buildings, whatever venus might be available to us next summer. We are expecting to draw 18,000 to 20,000 people, and this will be the first year.

"The festival will be June 5-15 and will be a celebration of faith in film," he said. "This festival will be one of the largest in the country, on a par with Sundance and South by Southwest.

"We have already lined up some of the Christian leaders and evangelists of our nation to be speakers.

"We want to have a permanent theater location where young filmmakers can work and show off their products. We will have a full media department and a press preview room.We want to align with university filmmaking programs as well."

Redden said films entered in the festival next year will go through a jury/screening process before they will be accepted and shown here.

"We are going to need a lot from Eureka Springs while this is going on," he said. "We will need at least 200 volunteers, transportation, caterers, lodging, cooperative advertising, all kinds of help. This is a $5 million project and it will be big for us and for Eureka."

Redden said his group had looked at Knoxville, Tenn., locations in Oklahoma and surrounding states before settling on Eureka Springs.

"I love Eureka," he said. "Everywhere we went to look at where other festivals are held, they look like Eureka. This is the place."

CAPC Chairman Jon Loudermilk was encouraging to Redden and thanked him for his efforts and plans.

In other business, there was lengthy discussion over the two proposals to change the language of the state and local enabling legislation creating the CAPC and setting out the membership.

The Eureka Springs Municipal Code sets the membership at "four members shall be (hotel motel or restaurant owners or managers) and one shall be a gift shop owner or manager. The remaining three members shall be the mayor and two members of the governing body selected by the governing body.

The proposed change would have the four members with one each from lodging, food service, retail and an at-large collector.

The state statute has the same original language for four members but includes two members of the governing body and one member from the public at large.

The suggested change would have at least three members, one each from lodging, food service and retail.

Commissioner/Mayor Beau Satori adamantly refuses to consider taking the mayor off the CAPC.

"The mayor is the only elected representative of the people of this community to serve on the commission," he said. "The mayor represents all the people, not just business interests."

Commission members discussed for several minutes whether or not the public, and the tax collectors, would be better served by having an at-large member instead of the mayor on the commission.

When the vote was taken on whether or not to send the suggestions to the state legislature, the count split at 2 and 2. Loudermilk broke the tie by voting to send the changes.

The commission voted to continue the contract with the Historical Museum, using it as an information center, for another year.

Satori has asked the commission to once again consider the purchase of a bucket truck to be used to maintain the holiday lights on buildings and to put up special event banners on Spring Street.

The commission currently spends approximately $4,000 per year hiring someone with a bucket truck to maintain the lights. Members of the fire department usually hang the banners using ladder trucks.

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