Thursday | 24. July. 2014
PULA PRO: ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION ON FILM FESTIVALS IN CROATIA
‘A small country for a large number of film festivals’, was one of the things heard yesterday during the round table discussion on film festivals in Croatia, organized in Circolo by Pula PRO, the new industrial segment of the Pula Film Festival. After the Sunday’s discussion on copyright, a number of film professionals found this topic interesting, participating in the discussion divided into two sessions.
During the first part the focus was on conversations between the representatives of the leading Croatian film festivals, while the other, somewhat shorter session, was open to the public and the visitors of the Pula Film Festival. Alongside the Pula host, the Croatian Audiovisual Centre artistic advisors and the representative from Creative Europe Desk – Office MEDIA, the event was attended by the representatives of the Motovun Film Festival, Zagreb Film Festival, 25FPS – International Experimental Film and Video Festival, Croatian Film Days, Animafest, ZagrebDOX, Film Forum Zadar, Mediterranean Film Festival Split, Tolerance Festival (JFF) and Split Film Festival.
Host Rajko Grlić presented the topic of the round table discussion – the question of how to acquire films for festivals and the question of screening fees. It was pointed out that these fees tend to go up and that some festival programmers are forced to go along with that or otherwise give up on desired films. As a source of that tendency Grlić identified the media that assess festivals according to the quantity of the much-vaunted premieres so they are constantly racing against the formed public opinion that the more premieres or ‘innocent’ films on the programme, the better the festival.
The term ‘innocent’ means a film not presented in Croatian distribution or seen at other national festivals. Furthermore, this race between national festivals, fifty-six of them in Croatia, is being used by international sales agencies that give films to best bidders. ‘If we apply competitiveness where it reasonably makes no sense to do so, the only effect is the increase in the price of films and then distributors end up as winners’, emphasized Igor Mirković, the director of the Motovun Film Festival.
Mike Downey, a member of the Pula Film Festival Artistic Board, said that films are a cultural product that should not be susceptible to capitalist rules of pure trade, especially in terms of acquiring artistic films. The participants proposed a model according to which national festivals or at least some professionals would join forces, taking over that job and trying to agree on the rules of the game on the national festival scene that would then be observed by all the parties involved.
The participants discussed possible association models, a possible national coordination or at least reinforced cooperation. Some mentioned that the film and festivals are already on the market and that they should team up and follow the same rules, ‘beating’ the adversary using his own weapons. One of the proposed models was a joint purchase of films that would later be screened at several festivals. Exclusivity would still be maintained, according to one of the proposals, by placing those films within sidebar programmes.
Concluding that cooperation is crucial on the Croatian festival scene, the participants suggested that this discussion be continued at the upcoming Zagreb Film Festival. Pula PRO as a host would organize the same meeting next year too, following up on, as the participants assessed, this extremely valuable initiative.