What Guarantees Your Film Festival Success?

Rounding up the Film Festival Programmers Interview Series for this season has fallen upon Barbara Orlicz-Szczypuła, director of Programme Office at the Krakow Film Festival (KFF). This time you are going to find out

  • why you shouldn’t rush submitting your rough cut/ work- in- progress to the film festival,
  • if film programmers like to send personalized rejection letters,
  • the hierarchy of the selection committee at the Krakow Film Festival and much more inside tips
barbara 2

Barbara Orlicz-Szczypuła, director of Programme Office at the Krakow Film Festival (KFF) in Krakow, Poland

Mrs. Orlicz-Szczypula says that at the KFF, the organizers are looking foremost for completed works, they receive hundreds and hundreds of submissions each year and rough cuts will not have priority in the selection process. After, in the order of importance comes a well-done film submission package, which must contain:

  • a short and long synopsis (500 words)
  • log line
  • filmography and biography of the filmmaker
  • the photography of the director
  • the team behind the film
  • director’s statement
  • stills from the film
  • basic film info: country, year, name of production company, distribution company, contacts(email/website)

“these materials are used for press publicity of the festival, and the catalogs. It is very important to have it ready,” says Barbara.

I bet you’ve wondered what is the process a film festival goes through when selecting the films, how many people are watching your film and who decides what, do the film festivals consider exclusively films received only during the call entry period?

Well, luckily for you Mrs. Orlicz-Szczypula is going to let you know how this things are for KFF. The selection process starts with the call for entries every Sept.-Oct. and there are two deadlines for submitting films. When the deadlines close, the number of entries they receive is usually over 2000 films. At KFF there is a selection committee of 18 people who are divided in departments: feature documentary, short documentaries, animated films, and short fiction films and of course  they have people who select the Polish works, for the national competition. One golden rule that KFF has is that

“every submitted film must be watched by at least two people. So, they have the first selection, and the first selection, they are recommendation of the selection committee and then the films, the chosen films, are discussed in the group and the festival director[..] decides about the films submitted to the competitive program,” explains Barbara.

Another way to selecting films for the next KFF is by participating in other film festivals and film markets and picking interesting films. Also, distribution companies and sales agents send their own recommendations and selections and they comprise 2% of the official program.

The selection process is so intense that the film festival programmers barely have time to answer the filmmakers emails, so don’t be offended if you don’t hear back. Exceptions are those filmmakers that are inquiring on the status of their film because another film festival is waiting for KFF‘s decision. In this cases the film has pre-screening priority and a decision is made promptly.

What about rejection letters?

If your film has not been selected, the contact person you put in the submission form will receive an automatic notification. But usually

“if your film has been rejected we don’t comment why,” says Mrs. Orlicz-Szczypula.

Understandable, there are so many things to be done for the preparation of the film festival and sending personalized rejection letters to filmmakers is not a priority. Although, receiving one softens the blow of not being accepted and has a nice touch to it.

Did I quenched your curiosity? For more watch the VIDEO down below:


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