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The case for Film Independent

March 04, 2007

Re "Reviews are less than charitable for nonprofit film bash," Feb. 24

The portrayal of Film Independent and the attempt to depict us as somehow undeserving of tax-exempt status displays a shocking ignorance of who we are and what we do. We are a service-oriented arts organization. In addition to the more than 275 year-round programs and screenings we produce, our major programs -- the Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival -- are expressions of this. To criticize these self-supporting events for costing too much completely misses their point. Although the Spirit Awards properly provide financial support for programs for independent filmmakers, they are at their core a successful and effective way of promoting the independent film community. For more than 22 years, the awards have played a crucial role in putting independent film on the map.

The film festival is not, as wrongly stated in the article, a "fundraising vehicle," nor are its expenses properly classified as "fundraising expenses." The festival is a nonprofit community event that provides hundreds of filmmakers a platform for their work, and it also offers free screenings and programs to attendees.

The Spirit Awards and film festival are at the heart of what we do as an organization dedicated to serving independent film. As such, their costs should be included in any calculation of our overall spending, which would bring our program-spending ratio to 75%, not the 50% quoted in the article.

None of the constituencies to which we are properly accountable -- including our members, sponsors, the film community and the Internal Revenue Service -- has ever raised a question about our probity or effectiveness.

VONDIE CURTIS HALL

President

Film Independent

Board of Directors

Los Angeles

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