Rebecca Berry couldn't have predicted six years ago how fast the new Beaufort International Film Festival would grow.
From 500 people the first year, to 5,000 people last year, the festival has cultivated a following across the country. Contestants this year come from as far away as California, Wisconsin and New York, she said.
The festival starts Wednesday with an invitation-only reception. Screenings will be Thursday through Saturday afternoon. An awards ceremony will be held Saturday night.
All screenings will be at the University of South Carolina Beaufort Center for the Arts, which holds about 500 people. When the festival started, Berry and other organizers hoped to fill about 160 seats at a smaller venue.
Berry hopes to beat last year's attendance by 1,000 or 2,000 people and to sell out several of the longer films. Attendance has almost doubled every year since the festival began.
"It's a big change, and now we have big seats to fill," she said.
The festival turned a profit -- albeit a small one -- for the first time last year, Berry said. It will cost about $30,000 to stage this year's festival, and Berry hopes to break even. Profits would go toward the next year's festival.
So far, about 100 all-screenings passes and about 200 single-screenings passes have been sold in advance, she said.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeonBeaufort.
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