Take Risks!

Today, I am going to introduce you to our FIRST FILM FESTIVAL PROGRAMMER Guest, and let you know what she had to say in regards to

  • the things you should be diligent about in your submission package,
  • what are the ingredients that make your film good and
  • what are the factors that can get your film accepted into a film festival

IMG_0880 Who are the film festival programmers? They are the people who get to pre-screen films for the film festival and propose the best ones to the festival director, who usually has the final say on what goes or not in the film festival programme.

I spend a couple of days in November at the 55th Thessaloniki  International Film Festival in Thessaloniki, Greece where I had the chance to interview a couple of film festival programmers, pick their brains and learn more about how-to film festival.

Ilse Acevedo, the International Programme Coordinator at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, has been programming for the festival for over 20 years.

I was very eager to find out what does Mrs. Acevedo looks for in a film  while pre-screening it and I was not disappointed by the answer. She looks for a film that can convince her to watch it to the end, able to move, excite and surprise her.
She thinks that

it is an added value when the director take risks. When a director really has the need to tell a story the result is more interesting. That is why many of the first films by a director, although they might not be technically perfect, are often more powerful.

Did you hear that? Take Risks! Your film does not have to be technically perfect, your story and your desire to give it life will do half the job.

If you are wondering what about other factors that can guarantee that your film will get accepted into a film festival, are there any at all? Mrs. Acevedo says is hard to identify the exact factors that make it most likely for your film to get in into a film festival, because there are so many of them out there. She says the programmers at TIFF are looking for films that are well crafted, aesthetically speaking, that have artistic value and are not commercially oriented productions.

Innovation and originality are also added values. Often we see films which we have the feeling that we have already seen, In many cases subjects are similar, but it is good to have a different view, a personal approach[..].

And it is true that there are a lot of films and documentaries with similar subjects and after awhile film programmers tend to unconsciously overlook them because the approach and the storytelling pattern is the same. For example, during my internship there were a lot of documentary entries about people living with Alzheimer disease and many of the films were so similar that you got the feeling you are watching the same one over and over again. Making something close to your heart and unique will immediately give you a head start and make you stand out in the selection process.

Do you remember when I talked about submission packages and researching in advance the film festival that fits your film? Mrs. Acevedo  reinforces some of ‘my personal experience tips‘, that it is important to read the film festival regulations carefully and see if your film meets the criteria, fill in the form with necessary information and present a well made press kit.

Otherwise it will be a waste of money and efforts for the submitter, and the programme department staff will not appreciate wasting time going through applications they cannot accept to start with.

Mrs. Acevedo is happy to receive links of the films, password protected but she will be happier if she’ll receive a DVD. A thing she can not help but emphasize to filmmakers/submitters is to put down, in their application, the correct premiere status and the film’s festival history.

There are a lot of things to keep in mind but I do hope you have got at least one or two useful things from this interview bit to help you organize yourself when it comes to applying to film festivals.

More film programmers to be featured! Stay tuned!

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