900 East Ave
Rochester, New York 14607

Movies on a Shoestring was founded in 1959 by a group of Rochester-area movie enthusiasts to provide a venue for independent filmmakers to present their cinematic creations. The name was a double entendre: most amateur filmmakers shot on 8mm back then, and the narrowness of the stock led its detractors to call it "the shoestring gauge."

We held our first public exhibition at the Rochester Public Library. It consisted of 16 films made by people from the Rochester area. During the second year a film from Toronto, Ontario, Canada was included, and in a modest sense Movies on a Shoestring became an international festival. That was also the year we moved the show to the Dryden Theatre through the courtesy of George Eastman House. Three hundred people attended the performance.

1964 was our first truly international year. We received films from all over the United States as well as five foreign countries. This international activity prompted us in 1965 to identify our shows as The Rochester International Movie Film Festival and to become a charter member of the International Association of Amateur Film Festivals, a world-wide organization dedicated to establishing standards and consistency among festivals of this type.

By 1971 Movies on a Shoestring had firmly established itself among the world's leading amateur festivals, so we modified our name to The Rochester International Amateur Film Festival. In 1983 we accepted our first video entries. The worldwide growth of film schools and of the film industry in general has led to a great increase in the number of professional quality short films being produced and competing for spots in our festival, so in 1996 we dropped the word "amateur" from our name and became The Rochester International Film Festival.

To provide independent filmmakers even greater public exposure, beginning in 1972, selected films from each year's festival have been assembled into a traveling show called The Best of the Fest. Grants from the New York State Council on the Arts and Rochester Area Foundation have made it possible to loan the traveling show, free of charge, to organizations around the state.


Added by jeresig on April 19, 2005

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