This blog offers the opportunity to discuss the value judgements and decisions-making processes behind the curation of the 'Cinemas of Europe's Small Nations Film Festival'. The festival received, via film submission platforms, in excess of 400 short films for consideration. Since this was a first-time, pilot edition of the festival, the level of interest, on behalf of filmmakers, clearly demonstrated the requirement and need for such a festival. The pilot event allowed for only 1 short film to be selected for each country, when at least three per country, organised by theme, genre, or style would have been beneficial.
The submissions arrived from both diasporic communities, particularly in the case of the Romanian submissions, and filmmakers operating within the selected countries. However, the level of submissions from short films funded by national or sub-national institutions, in the case of Scotland and Wales, was surprisingly low. To a certain extent, this emphasises the limited opportunities for novice filmmakers in national film policy, leaving individuals to source funding and support in increasingly experimental and creative funding streams.
On a separate note, there were submissions from small nations beyond the selected four. One particularly interesting example arrived from Andorra – in Spanish – evincing the diversity of offer available beyond the typical sources. It evinces the need to move beyond the four selected countries for the festival, encouraging an opening up of the selection criteria for short films. A further suggestion pertains to the encouraging of feature films for submission as opposed to curation from films screened successfully at film festivals across the globe and prior to cinematic release. Internet databases and sources for distributor details and information - such as http://www.launchingfilms.com - proved instructive at this point.
From this premise, a further challenge concerned whether films, desired for screening, had been picked up by distributors in the United Kingdom. Those that had yet to be picked up in the UK, and could be sourced via France for instance, had substantial surcharges – eclipsing 500€ - per film. This was particularly the case for the films for the Romanian section, which contrasted dramatically for the Welsh screening for instance, which cost only £50 for its screening. The relationship with distributors proved an interesting and crucial learning curve for the curated section.
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