NORTH LITTLE ROCK Little Rock Film Festival officials Monday announced new additions and prizes for the 2013 event.
A new prize will be introduced this year, with Heifer International awarding $10,000 to the most environmentally-conscious film in the lineup, festival officials said at a news conference. Along with the money that is awarded by the Oxford American, there are now $20,000 in cash prizes awarded to the winners of the festival.
Along with the additional prize money, Little Rock Film Festival Executive Director Craig Renaud said, the festival will take place specifically in downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock for the first time.
"These type of things really bring a lot of economic development to the downtown areas," Renaud said. "From the very beginning, we've partnered with Little Rock and North Little Rock with our festival. And so we're happy to be this year, to be having our festival 100 percent in downtown [of both cities] and we really hope that it drives tourists locally, and from out of the state and country, to Little Rock."
The main venues for viewing will be the Argenta Community Theater in North Little Rock and the Arkansas Repertory Theatre on Main Street in Little Rock. Renaud added that there will be other smaller viewing venues in both cities.
Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith and other city officials were on hand at the Argenta Community Theater for the announcement, along with about 50 patrons.
Stodola and Smith both said the economic impact of the film festival in the area would be positive, drawing people into the region, specifically the Main Street areas of both cities.
"You know, the film festival and its reputation, I think, certainly, as it continues to mature and develop, it's going to be a tremendous draw," Stodola said. "You know, there are several film festivals around the country and as they become distinguished, the filmmakers say 'you know what, I think I'm going to try it out at the Little Rock Film Festival.'... I think the ability to mature the Little Rock Film Festival is a tremendous opportunity to bring in people from all over the country."
The event is entering its seventh year.