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0000017c-60f7-de77-ad7e-f3f739cf0000Arts & More airs Fridays at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.Theme music: "Like A Beginner Again" by Dan Barry of Seas of Jupiter

Waterfront Film Fest Will Do ArtPrize, Cancel South Haven Plans

File photo
Dianne Carroll Burdick/Courtesy of Waterfront Film Festival
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This year’s Waterfront Film Festival in South Haven has been canceled. But movie fans can still see Waterfront films at Artprizein Grand Rapids this September during a new Artprize event called Artprize On Screen. This is Waterfront’s second move since it started in Saugatuck more than 16 years ago.

The Expense of Unique Screenings

This is really about expansion. It's not about moving on or switching gears or changing our minds - it's really about looking toward a five, ten, or fifteen year plan.

Waterfront Film Festival co-founder HopwoodDepree says over the years it has become more difficult to keep up with the screenings Waterfront is known for - like showing movies on the beach or inside of rusty boat sheds.

Depree says while those screenings are fun, they can be very expensive and time-consuming to create. Plus, as screenings like this continue, audiences have more demands.

"Understandably so they want cushier chairs or air conditioning - I get it. That's what we want to do, we want to improve the audience's overall movie-going experience - but all of that costs money obviously,": says DePree.  

"And so for a non-profit organization putting on that event really requires tremendous corporate support and sponsorship support to make an event like that happen."

That's not to say the festival will not do it's eccentric screenings in the coming years, says DePree.

Waterfront Film Festival founders. From left to right: Dana Depree, Hopwood DePree, Kori Eldean Rentz, Dori DePree
Credit Dianne Carroll Burdick/Courtesy of Waterfront Film Festival
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Waterfront Film Festival founders. From left to right: Dana Depree, Hopwood DePree, Kori Eldean Rentz, Dori DePree

 Waterfront's Many Moves

DePree says the Waterfront Film Festival staff have been brainstorming ways the festival can expand to a year-round event - like educational components and other things that would be exciting to multiple audiences.

He says that means going to more than just one lakeshore town.

"So that really is what prompted our first move is saying, 'This needs to be about the region. This isn't just contained to one community or one town,'" says DePree.

Will Waterfront Lose The Small-Town Feel?

In years past, part of Waterfront has had the intimacy of a small festival. However ArtPrize On Screen will be set in a much bigger city than South Haven and Saugatuck. DePree says that may be true, but Grand Rapids is not too big a place to see your favorite filmmaker out in public. Plus, he says, the festival could return to the lakeshore next June.

"I mean that really is our goal - to do the ArtPrize event, pull that off well this year, learn how to expand and improve upon that for future years. But also come back and have a lakeshore festival with the same intimacy and type of venues that people have come to know from Waterfront and have that in early summer in June. So this is really about expansion. It's not about moving on or switching gears or changing our minds - it's really about looking toward a five, ten, or fifteen year plan."