Citizen Jane Film Festival sees growth, still lags behind others

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COLUMBIA -- The seventh annual Citizen Jane Film Festival began Thursday on the Stephens College campus.

While the annual event has seen continued growth over the last few years, women's centered film festival still lags behind both Roots N Blues N BBQ and the True False Film Festival in the amount of economic impact the festival brings to the city of Columbia.

According to the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau, the True False Film Festival, Roots N Blues N BBQ and Citizen Jane Film Festival are the three most popular arts and entertainments festivals that take place in Columbia throughout the year.

"I think we're all about the same thing, and I think we definitely support one another," Kerrie Yost, Director of Programming for the Citizen Jane Film Festival said.

In 2014, the True False Film Festival sold more than 42,000 tickets to visitors from at least nine countries and 19 states. Roots N Blues N BBQ also saw international visitors in 2014. Visitors from four countries and 38 states came to Columbia to experience the event.

"These festivals are huge economic impact draws for us throughout the year. They bring in thousands of visitors to our community, so those visitors of course spend the night in our hotels, eat at our restaurants, and shop in our stores," Megan McConaehie, Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau Marketing and Communications Manager said.

Each of the three festivals are a part of the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau's Signature Series, which allows festivals that take place in the city to receive funding from the bureau based on a variety of criteria like hotel rooms used during the festival, attendance numbers and impact on the city.

"Roots N Blues N BBQ is obviously the largest attended and it also gains quite a bit of media attention, which is also important as far as understanding how the impact works," McConaehie said.

Even though Roots N Blues has the highest attendance numbers, True False Film Festival receives the most money from the CVB, followed by Roots N Blues, and then Citizen Jane Film Festival.

Still, organizers of Citizen Jane say they are excited to have seen growth and expansion over recent years.

"Another trend that we've seen is that people come from out of town now. We have people traveling from Springfield, and Saint Louis and Kansas City. I just greeted a group who came all the way from Ohio," Yost said.

The first film at the Citizen Jane Film Festival will premiere tonight at 7:30 p.m and the Missouri Theatre. Tickets for opening night can be purchased at the Box Office at Stephens College or on the Citizen Jane Film Institute's website.