PHILIPSBURG--Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher will soon begin exploratory discussions to host an international film festival/film-related event in St. Maarten.

On the initiative of former Democratic Party Member of Parliament (MP) Roy Marlin, the Minister and her team were recently introduced to Lina Plath of the firm Frank PR

(www.frankpublicity.com), who has expressed interest in developing a relationship with St. Maarten that could result in major international exposure for the island one day.

On invitation of Frank PR, the Minister and St. Maarten Tourist Bureau (STB) head Rolando Brison recently attended the kick-off event for the Hamptons International Film Festival at Rockefeller Center’s Garden Loft in New York City. The event was hosted by Alec Baldwin with whom the Minister had the opportunity to share a few words about St. Maarten and the willingness of the destination to host such an event.

The Minister and Brison also had the opportunity to speak with Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences New York Programs Director Patrick Harrison. The Minister said that although in-depth discussions still have to take place, the willingness of both Frank PR and St. Maarten is a good starting point.

She explained that for the economy of a destination like St. Maarten, a film festival can be a great way to diversify St. Maarten’s tourism product and attract the luxury visitor and film writers from around the globe.

“Film festivals attract tourists from all over. A filmmaker will usually travel across the world to attend and promote a screening of their film. It also attracts media professionals and film fans who, if treated well, will return home to rave about the festival and the country hosting it,” she said.

Marlin also sees the educational benefit and spin-off such a relationship could have for St. Maarten.

“One benefit many do not realise about film festivals is the educational opportunities they present. Most festivals hold workshops facilitated by respected film professionals in all fields. Festivals also hold special screenings and programmes for children, teaching them about a specific aspect of filmmaking, a particular social issue or art form. Imagine the doors it could open to aspiring local young adults who want to work in this field, but never had the opportunity,” he said.

Frank PR was launched in 2008, when principals Clare Anne Darragh and Lina Plath took their combined 20 years of experience at New Line Cinema, Miramax Films, October Films and Fine Line Features and joined forces. Based in New York City’s financial district, Frank PR is an agency that specialises in film, television, general entertainment and lifestyle publicity.

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