Tags: film | festivals | tax | subsidy

Let's End ‘Film-Festival Welfare’

Friday, 25 May 2012 06:09 PM

By Drew Johnson

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The eyes of the entertainment world will be focused on the beaches of Southern France this weekend as the 65th annual Cannes Film Festival comes to a close.

The eyes of American taxpayers, however, should be focused on wasteful lawmakers who are busy robbing them blind to subsidize outlandish film festivals here at home.

cannes2.jpg
Actress Nicole Kidman strikes a pose at the 65th Cannes film festival on May 25.
(Getty Images)
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) received $146.2 million from federal taxpayers this year to bankroll a myriad of artists and arts projects.

A major emphasis of the NEA’s spending in recent years has been subsidizing film festivals. Judging by the long list of film festivals that taxpayers funded this year, it seems like no film festival is too small or too bizarre to receive a government handout.

For example, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival received $10,000 in tax money, as did the South Asian International Film Festival in San Francisco.

Rather than relying on the wealthy residents and visitors of Martha’s Vineyard to underwrite the cost of the Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival, the event’s organizers forced taxpayers to pick up part of the tab.

The 2012 Environmental Film Festival was held from March 13-25 in Washington, D.C. Among the films screened at the green movie gala using an NEA grant funded with taxpayer greenbacks was a documentary with the gall to criticize a car company for bringing jobs and economic prosperity to a poor village in the Czech Republic.

Predictably, the hackneyed hippie film fest also featured no fewer than five flicks vilifying the oil industry, three movies about the plight of Native Americans and four films about elephants.

Perhaps the most outrageous film festival taxpayers will fund this year is the New Orleans Film Festival. Among the gems screened at last year’s edition of the festival were “Barracuda,” a movie in which a phone sex operator drives her Plymouth Barracuda across the country to exact vigilante justice on various perverts, and “Moon Pie,” a short film that follows a man’s journey through his double-wide as he accuses family members of eating his last Moon Pie.

The highlight of the most recent New Orleans Film Festival for taxpayers, however, had to be “The Human Centipede II: Full Sequence.”

The film is heartwarming cinematic treasure in which a gentleman named Martin abducts a dozen people, then severs their knee tendons and knocks out their teeth.

Next, Martin uses a staple gun to creating a 12-person-long human centipede. Wondering how the victims eat? Let’s just say that the process consists of one large bowl of soup and 11 syringes. Eventually all 12 people are brutally murdered.

In addition to the film festivals that the NEA funds directly, state and local officials use federally-funded NEA grants to subsidize dozens more film festivals across the United States.

Such a grant allowed the Rhode Island International Film Festival to screen “Tub,” a movie in which the protagonist impregnates his bathtub.

Film-festival welfare programs are the very last thing government should ever be in the business of funding. By using tax dollars to fund film festivals, politicians are suggesting that a struggling single mother’s money is better spent ensuring that art snobs can get into a movie screening a little cheaper than buying food for her children.

They are also indicating that it’s appropriate to force a church-going grandmother to subsidize the screening of movies like “The Human Centipede II,” even though she may find it offensive and morally repugnant.

Congress must stop showering the NEA with tax dollars to fund film festivals. By allowing Americans to keep those dollars in their pockets to spend as they see fit, lawmakers can finally stop the silver screen from being a black hole for taxpayers.

Drew Johnson is a senior fellow at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational organization dedicated to a smaller, more responsible government. Read more reports from Drew Johnson — Click Here Now.

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