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How to analyse your film, how to select your festival”

[19/01/12]

Yesterday, on 17 January, the German film critic Rüdiger Suchsland gave a talk entitled “ Cómo “How to analyse your film, how to select your festival” within the framework of the Master in Feature Film Production for Cinema and Television taught at IDEC-Pompeu Fabra University (Barcelona).

The talk was moderated by Paco Poch, Director of the Master and of the production company Mallerich Films , who introduced Suchsland as a “cultural activist”, which is how he describes himself on his business card.

In front of an audience of both up-and-coming and established producers, Suchsland used his experience as a film festival critic to offer some key ideas and pieces of advice on how to succeed at festivals.

What criteria do critics base their selection of films on? How should producers select festivals?

  • You don't select the festival, the festival selects you ”. Selection is arbitrary, as it depends on a variety of factors: the number of films received; the language they are in (it is not possible to choose several films in the same language even if they are all good); and the festival's taste and style.
  • Producers must be realistic . It is therefore necessary to know the characteristics of each festival. For example, Cannes is characterised by its strictness and competitiveness; it only screens premieres. San Sebastián, unlike the Gijón Festival, is known for showing international premieres. It is also important to know who is on the selection committee. In the case of Cannes, the committee is only made up of professionals (journalists and critics). At the Heidelberg Festival, on the other hand, the films are viewed both by professionals and scouts .
  • It is important to attend as many festivals as possible . They are a good place for networking, for learning about the market and seeing films that you would not get to see otherwise... all this will help you to decide where and how to present your project.
  • The first 15 minutes of the film must be excellent . Bearing in mind that some festivals receive more than 1,000 films, the selection committee only views the first 15 minutes of each one, at most. That's why, when time is a scarcity, you have to make sure that the first 15 minutes are the best.
  • Keep a fresh perspective and analyse your film as if you were seeing it for the first time. It is also a good idea to ask the opinions of strangers, as they will certainly be more sincere than those of your family and friends.
  • Film world sales companies could help to sell your film abroad. If possible, it is very useful to get first-hand experience of how they work (by working for a time as a freelancer, for example) in order to learn about realistic prices for projects.
  • The selection of films is subjective (they either like it or they don't), but critics always question their decisions with questions such as: What is the film trying to be ? Will it work? What is its artistic language/style? The film's cultural and social impact are also analysed, as well as its artistic value, the relationship of the director and the film with other directors and films, etc.
  • Understand press styles and have international agents with international influence. The national newspapers with the widest foreign readership include El País , Le Monde and The Guardian .
  • Know when to speak at press conferences. It is not always necessary to speak; there may be more interest in the actor or director than in the producer.

After this talk, and after answering questions from the audience, Rüdiger Suchsland took a moment to highlight the efforts of José Luis Cienfuegos as former Director of the Gijón Film Festival, and advised the audience to defend art above and beyond political ideals, and to remember that “one of the best things about festivals is that they are a place for producers to meet their audiences” .

To watch the video click here

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