PETER BELSITO grew up in New York City and graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and from the Masters film program at UCLA where he was a graduate teaching assistant at UCLA Film School.
He was a founding member of Newsreel, a radical anti war student filmmaking collective. He was a founding member of the Independent Feature Project (IFP) in New York City in 1981 and opened the IFP office in Los Angeles (now FIND). He was a founding member of the Chicano Cinema Coalition.
After graduating from UCLA he worked professionally as a cinematographer, produced feature films and feature documentaries and wrote screenplays. His produced documentary Valley of Tears is distributed in the US by Seven Arts. He worked in publishing for ten years for Charles T. Munger, Vice Chairman of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, and assisted Sydney Levine in founding FilmFinders in 1988 as a blue chip film acquisitions tracking, consulting and publishing firm. He came on board full time in 1995 as a FilmFinders partner, Head of Sales and Marketing as Executive Vice President. Fourteen years after Ms. Levine’s successful launch of FilmFinders, Peter recently founded the growing FilmFinders Consulting division. Both Peter and Sydney have been involved for the last fifteen years in professional education and with young filmmakers via countless festival and market panels and forums and active course involvement with such institutions including Harvard, Wharton, the Maurits Binger Institute of Amsterdam, ACE of Paris, Rotterdam Cinemart, IFP New York, IFP West of Los Angeles etc. Both have originated and coordinated panels and conferences for various institutions as well as FilmFinders.
He lives in West Hollywood, California and travels extensively throughout the year to film festivals and markets worldwide. In July 2006 FilmFinders merged with Withoutabox to develop new digital services for filmmakers, festivals, and international sales and distribution. In January 2008 FilmFinders/Withoutabox were sold to IMDb/Amazon.com. Peter joined IMDb then and amicably left IMDb in April 2009 to pursue activities as an independent, and today he is a guest blogger on SydneysBuzz which is on Indiewire covering the international independent film business.
'Do Film Festivals need an Academy in this day and age? The answer is, resoundingly, yes! A complex mixture of the professional and the cultural, the economic and the cinephilic, film festivals today are increasingly complex beasts – and no festival is an island unto itself. Connected in a tight web of international exchanges, comparisons and manœuvres, festivals are all about giving value to particular films or particular types of films – and finding, or creating, the audiences for them. The new Film Festival Academy is ideally placed to integrate the already widely scattered field of researches, discussions, trainings and co-operative interrelationships occurring within and between the literally thousands of film festivals in the modern globe. It is a new world on every level – from the challenge of projection formats to the politics of curating – and the Film Festival Academy will open the doors to it.'
'The inauguration of the Film Festival Academy brings important and long overdue attention to film festivals as cultural locations for the traffic in filmmaking, from glitterati events with red carpets, to those that shed light on human rights abuses, to the world-building projects of activist communities.'
'The Film Festival Academy has a great potential to become a truly valid platform for creative film festival professionals willing to share knowledge and experience on a collaborative basis. This initiative should be welcomed with enthusiasm and excitement.'
'The Film Festival Academy has my full support. It is amazing that in a market overflowing with all kinds of professional training it has taken until today to come up with a simple and great idea: high level opportunities for the exchange of ideas and programmes for learning more about the complex art and the technical skills of running a film festival. Anybody who has participated in any of the rather dubious endeavours that were made in this field before will appreciate the non-profit approach of the Film Festival Academy; anybody who knows its founders will trust their professional knowledge and personal integrity. I will support the Film Festival Academy in every possible way.'
'The creation of the Film Festival Academy is a very important step in the ongoing process of consolidation and exchange on the European festival scene. I wish all possible success to this important initiative.'
'The unswerving positive response from film festivals, professionals and academics regarding the launch of the Film Festival Academy comes as no surprise. Sharing between academia and industry is essential in developing highly-trained film professionals and we look forward to the collaboration between film schools, film institutes, festivals and other film industry partners through this unique platform.'
'The enormous growth of film festivals – in number, location, diversity, and artistic influence – is accelerating by the day. But not until now has their importance to global culture been matched by an organization with the cinematic acumen, media savvy, networking skills, and expert leadership needed to provide top-level support, training, information, and connectivity for participants in all areas of festival activity, from programmers and publicists to filmmakers, academics, and critics. The arrival of the Film Festival Academy is the most exciting development in years for moving-image professionals everywhere.'
'The Film Festival Academy offers a much needed interchange of views between filmmakers, festival programmers and academics doing research on film festivals. That this interchange takes place not in the academy but at festivals themselves will be a huge boon to film festival scholarship and to an important sharing and deepening of the perspective of those interested in not only theorizing but also intervening in the continued growth of these events which play such a crucial part in the disseminating of a global cinema and in the breaking down of commerical barriers.'
'The new Film Festival Academy initiative is to be very much welcomed by all film festival professionals and anyone interested and involved in the increasingly central role played by film festivals in the international cinema industry; this is definitely the right thing at the right time and promises to be an exciting and important development that will be of great service to all of us working in the film festival arena.'
'The role of the film festival in today's digital world is constantly being re-evaluated and debated, but it's clear that film festivals are still as relevant and important as they have ever been. The Film Festival Academy should provide an important focus for the rich and diverse amount of film festivals in the world while giving festival practitioners an important outlet for networking and collaboration.'
'To focus on film festivals, not in opposition to but in articulation with critical and scholarly thought, is what world cinema needs in order to be understood in all its complexity. The Film Festival Academy deserves our applause and support for providing, for the first time, a common platform for festival professionals, critics and passionate spectators.'
To become a member, please read the descriptions of the two levels of membership to select which one better fits your needs, and then select one of the them. You will be redirected to a registration page where you will create your Film Festival Academy account, and will soon begin to benefit from the many advantages afforded by membership.
The two kinds of membership are:
PREMIUM (€90 per year, or €60 per year if taken out before 31 December 2012)
To become a member, please click below: