Future of film festival under threat amid funds shortage

A shortage of funds is threatening the future of the Kerry Film Festival which has run successfully for the last 13 years.

The Tralee-based event has been left without a director for the first time in its history after Sarah Smyth finished in the job last month. Her contract was not renewed due to funding constraints.

Funding has reduced from a peak of €133,000 when the festival was combined with the Samhlaíocht arts festival. The film festival now receives a maximum of €20,000 through the festivals and events category of the Arts Council.

The Arts Council has had its own funding slashed by almost €20m since 2009.

Film festival chairwoman Roisín McGuigan described the income drop as “drastic” and said the festival’s potential to grow had been damaged.

She said the festival had gone backwards from a stage where they had a full-time director and a part-time assistant to a situation where they had a Fás team.

Ms McGuigan said there was nobody running the organisation on a day-to-day basis.

“Not many organisations grow out of that position,” she added.

One of the key roles of the festival is to encourage young and emerging filmmakers, hundreds of whom have taken part in its competitions.

Judges for competitions over the years have included the likes of Gabriel Byrne, Neil Jordan, and Jim Sheridan.

The festival also presents the annual Maureen O’Hara Award to women who excel in films. Winners include Brenda Fricker and Saoirse Ronan.

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