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The John F. Kennedy International Film Festival is an annual film festival for independent as well as studio filmmakers hosted in Hyannis, Massachusetts. Known as the Kennedy Festival or the Cape Cod Festival colloquially, the festival is one of the Big Four film festivals occurring in the spring and summer. Hosted the first weekend of August, the Kennedy festival is named for influential actor, director and Hollywood producer Jack Kennedy, a member of the powerful Massachusetts-based Kennedy family. The festival was the first big festival of its kind, being started in 1978 by Kennedy to attract more filmmakers to New England (where there were generous tax incentives) and to help create exposure for smaller studios born out of the deregulated Hollywood of the 1970's. A huge success, the positive reception to the festival led to Kennedy's retirement from acting in 1980 and his focus on expanding the festival's size, scope and influence on the later awards circuits.
As the oldest of the Big Four festivals (the others being the Yorktown, Tahoe and Miami festivals), the Kennedy Festival is also the most influential, and films with a strong showing in Hyannis often have stronger traction at the more mainstream awards the following winter - for example, the 2006 film Pressure carried its momentum from Hyannis through the Golden Globes and SAG Awards all the way to the Best Picture Academy Award as a darkhorse over much stronger competition from studio projects.