The Kansas City Filmmakers Jubilee was founded by Fred Andrews. In 1996, Fred recognized that Kansas City had an active and growing filmmaking community. He had been developing the monthly programs for the Film Society of Greater Kansas City, and found enthusiastic audiences for local filmmakers. However, there were few venues for these local artists to show their work, and fewer opportunities to hone their craft. Having never attended a film festival, Fred took action.
Fred created the Kansas City Filmmakers Jubilee, a collaboration of the Film Society and the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the Kansas City Art Institute and the Independent Filmmakers Coalition. He distributed flyers to local filmmakers and students, inviting them to send entries to the inaugural event. Their entry fees, totaling $270, composed his budget for operations.
The first year, 1997, ten short films were selected. They screened at Royall Hall on the UMKC campus. The only marketing that year was one article by Robert Butler in The Kansas City Star and film community word-of-mouth, but nearly 500 people packed the screening. Filmmakers urged Fred to hold another festival the next year.
Now known as the Kansas City FilmFest, the event has grown steadily, now spanning five days in one of Kansas City’s premiere theatres. Since its humble beginnings in 1997, the FilmFest has received thousands of entries from all over the world. More than $200,000 in cash and prizes have been awarded in the juried competition.