Film festival big business for downtown

Monday, February 28, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:25 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The True/False Film Festival proved to be an economic boon for some downtown businesses. Sales increased to as much as double their averages at certain locations.

“Saturday we did what was normal for about two days, at least, and we had two more people working” said Ali Brown of Main Squeeze. “Every time a movie lets out, there’s a line out the door.” Brown expected Sunday to be about the same.

The Cherry Street Artisan, which served as the festival’s box office, also kept busy.

“This weekend was our largest weekend of the whole 52 weeks last year,” said Tom Bair, owner of the Cherry Street Artisan. “The box office draws people down here and there’s so many people downtown that want a place to go afterward.”

Beth Kopine, the box office coordinator, said ticket sales picked up earlier this year than last.

“There were a lot more sales before the box office opened, and the initial traffic on Thursday was much heavier than I remember it being last year,” Kopine said. .

Regency Hotel in downtown Columbia was at full capacity through the weekend, but Guest Service Manager Kris-tina Olshanskaya said this is typical of most weekends.

The increase in volume was noticeable in downtown restaurants near the film venues.

“We had about a $500 to $800 net increase in our sales on Friday and Saturday. That’s probably about 50 to 75 extra people,” said Alann Severinsen, assistant general manager of Nothing but Noodles. “Today looks like it’s a little bit busier.”

Local businesses, like Cool Stuff and Maude Vintage, also experienced an increase in volume.

“Saturday is usually a busy day for us, and this Saturday, business was about double,” said Channing Kennedy, owner of Maude Vintage.

Volunteers helped with the crowd this year.

“I’m definitely going to do it next year,” said Michael Wyss, a high school volunteer. “It brings a lot of people to Columbia that wouldn’t regularly come.”

Columbia’s mainstream movie theatres have not noticed an impact from the festival.

“We have different volumes each weekend, so it’s hard to tell if a decrease is due to True/False,” said Addie Cole, manager at Forum 8 movie theaters. “It mostly depends on what movies are playing.”

Festival co-director David Wilson hopes to maintain an intimate and informal atmosphere for future festivals.

“We just want to continue to program great films and continue to bring exciting filmmakers to Columbia,” he said. “We think that will create the type of festival we want.”

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