When is a movie ticket NOT a guarantee that you’ll see a film?

This is the back of a film festival movie ticket. It reads in bold print: Please arrive early as empty seats will be released and sold to RUSH patrons 15 minutes prior to showtime.festival film ticket

This is helpful information if you’ve never been to a film festival.  But if you’ve never been to a film festival, you are probably not familiar with what RUSH means.  Nor have you ever encountered a movie theater that looks like this:

Sea of reserved signs

This a problem for film festivals.  For many festivals, Opening and Closing Night films are a way to thank Sponsors and Donors for giving money and goods to support the festival.  Those patrons are rewarded with film tickets and receptions.  It’s essential to have funding and this seems to be the best way to ensure that the patrons are happy.

Now if you’re a long-time fan of festivals, this situation gets tricky.  It looks as if the festival is pandering to the wealthy and leaving you in the back row.  And if you’ve never been to a film festival, well–this is a shock.  What?!  I purchased a ticket and I can’t have a seat in the film?!!  Every year, at every festival that I work where film tickets are sold, there will be someone showing up late, wanting to get into their film…and unable to comprehend that there is NO SEAT.  RUSH means; you seat all the guests in line, all the sponsors, filmmakers and patrons in their reserve seats and THEN, if there are seats available 5 minutes to screen time, someone in the RUSH line gets to purchase a ticket and rush into the theater!

So save yourself some heartache and learn the rules of the festival.  Arrive early, avoid the big ticket shows and get a good seat for a truly inspiring documentary instead!

Happy Festivaling!

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