Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Enthusiasm Reigns at Five Points Film Fest

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Enthusiasm Reigns at Five Points Film Fest

Article excerpt

Byline: Jason Yurgartis

Last week I wrote what was essentially a call to action aimed at garnering support for the arts by way of attending the 2009 Jacksonville Film Festival. And if initial returns are any indicator, it appears that call was answered in full force.

Judging by the packed seats and enthusiasm I witnessed at each film I saw on Sunday, and in hearing reactions from event organizers who reported record attendance, the festival has been an overwhelming success.

For those who came out to support the arts, 5 Points Theatre and the Five Points area as a whole, consider this an appreciative tip of the cap from yours truly.

Thanks to you and your patronage, the Jacksonville Film Festival has been resuscitated with a mighty breath of fresh air and appears to be out of the cultural critical care unit where it once seemed to be flatlining.

But the festival wasn't the only beneficiary of your overwhelming support. Area businesses - nearly every one along the main drag in Five Points in which I spoke to employees, managers and owners - saw a jolt in business as a result of the festival.

Ragland's bartender Nicole Middleton said she saw a lot of new faces and an increase in food and drink sales. I also spoke to one of the owners of Ragland's, John Mikusak, who echoed Middleton's sentiment and said the festival helped the neighborhood economy.

"It was a good thing for everybody," Mikusak said. "Anything that brings business to the area is good, and [the Jacksonville Film Festival and 5 Points Theatre] is a nice addition to the neighborhood."

Fu Hao Bistro employee Stephanie Thompson also noticed a large increase in traffic from hungry filmgoers, including a party of 23 festival patrons who chowed down together on some Asian delicacies.

Gina Monsalve, owner of Latitudes Cafe, told me the May 16 screenings were really good for business while I sipped a cup of their Taj Mahal blend of coffee (featuring a spicy blend of ginger and cloves). …

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