Lower than expected ticket sales have forced Queer Screen to call on the community for $48,000 in donations.

The non-profit film organisation may have to cut staff and programming if it doesn’t raise the money before the end of June.

It’s quite disastrous, Queer Screen vice-president Su Goldfish said of the situation.

The financial shortfall occurred after ticket sales for the 2006 film festival fell by five percent compared to the previous year.

Also in the last 12 months the organisation ran a series of classic queer films and one-off special screenings, none of which raised as much money as expected, Goldfish said. These would be the first things to be cut if money wasn’t raised.

Funding received from the Australian Film Commission in 2005 had been discontinued.

We might have to go back to doing just the Mardi Gras Film Festival, which cuts out so many things, Goldfish said.

And it would be a much smaller festival if there were no paid programmers.

Queer Screen relies on ticket sales, membership, advertising and sponsorship for revenue. Only four percent of funding comes from the NSW Film and Television Office.

While Goldfish could not explain why ticket sales had fallen, she said independent cinemas across NSW had experienced a massive slump in sales last year.

She would love to see New Mardi Gras reinstate some level of funding -“ as the old Mardi Gras did before it went bust in 2002 -“ but Goldfish conceded the organisation probably wasn’t financially secure enough to do so.

New Mardi Gras chair Marcus Bourget told Sydney Star Observer he and the board would work with Queer Screen to assist in raising funds to ensure the ongoing success of one of our founding organisations.

New Mardi Gras recognises the enormous contribution Queer Screen makes to our arts and cultural festival each year, he said, and urged all of the community to offer support.

TV presenters Anton Enus and Bernie Hobbs also got behind the campaign to raise donations this week.

It’s vital that the gay and lesbian community gets to see these empowering images, our stories and lives, up on the screen, Enus, a SBS newsreader, said.

Hobbs, from ABC’s The New Inventors, said, Where else can we see Finnish lezzos making babies then splitting up, an Iranian dyke cross-dressing for her life and a self-obsessed San Franciscan filmmaker’s journey into -“ you guessed it -“ herself?

Queer Screen celebrates everything that’s good, great and ordinary in queer filmmaking. It inspires, captures and reaches us.

Filmmaker Craig Boreham, whose short film Transient won the My Queer Career audience choice award in 2005, said Queer Screen helped get his short films shown on the international festival circuit, including queer film festivals in Berlin, New York and San Francisco.

They go beyond just a screening. They help get films out onto an international stage, Boreham said.

Donations over $2 are tax deductible and can be made via the Queer Screen website.

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