We are, once again, meeting online, like so many times before in these past two years. But the cinematic year allows for some optimism: Despite these uncertain times, the important film festivals are taking place on location, large productions are finally celebrating their long-awaited premieres – small steps towards normality.
For the big festivals, things seem to be going back to normal at least a little this year. Is the IDM Film Commission in attendance?
For the Berlinale festival in February, the screenings took place in cinemas once again. The film market, however, was still held entirely online. So we maintained an online presence during the Berlinale and provided virtual consulting for the film professionals. For our local Bolzano Film Festival Bozen in April, things did indeed almost go back to normal: After two years, award ceremonies, industry programs and screenings took place on site and in front of a real audience again. You could tell people missed going to the cinema. The Festival de Cannes and the Marché du Film in May will be held on site as well – and IDM will be attending.
The film industry has tried to adapt to the situation in the last two years as much as possible in order to be able to live up to earlier successes after the crisis. Did this forced hiatus give the IDM film fund a chance to emerge stronger than before?
Definitely. Last year hasn’t always been easy for us; we even had to suspend one of the funding calls. We worked hard to make sure this won’t happen again and raised more awareness for that among politicians and stakeholders. For the next few years, our budget is secure once again.
Moreover, a study will be published alongside the Berlinale [“Public Film Funding at the Crossroads – Ideology versus Reality”; author: Tomas Eskilsson; editors: Katarina Krave, Bengt Toll] highlighting once again the tasks and the importance of regional film funding in Europe. But the study also encourages film funds to evolve and form alliances in order to improve the environment in the film industry and remain competitive. Our Cine-Regio project, a network of 49 regional film funds, is designed to actively participate in that.
Evolution and further development are necessary, not least because of the pandemic.
The pandemic, for example, has made it clear that visibility of the films is not a matter of course and that you have to put in real effort, again and again, for them to find the right audience. It is one of our core tasks to support not just the production but also the reception of the films. That is why we have set up the online catalog WATCH !T, which not only provides detailed information on the films but also lists the cinemas, festivals, and streaming services showing them. That is an important tool for us to grow our target audience.
The whole website was expanded considerably, and TAKE magazine is now online, too.
That’s right. There will be an offer of information similar to that of the print edition, but the web allows us to be more current and we’ll now be able to add content continuously.
Festivals are not the only events that are returning to an in-person format. INCONTRI, the film conference spearheaded by the IDM film fund, will be held in Merano/Meran from April 26–29 with film professionals in attendance.
We are looking forward to it very much! We have opened up the event; from this year going forward, anyone who is interested may register. The national focus this time will be on the Baltics. One topic of the conference will be the “Streaming Wars,” meaning the offer of the numerous streaming services and the associated increase in the number of productions. We will have keynotes and case studies and lots of opportunities to compare notes and network. The study on regional funding we’ve just mentioned will also be presented in great detail at INCONTRI.
Another important project that will be with us for the entire year is our script lab, RACCONTI. There are currently three feature film projects in development in that lab, which will then be presented for the first time at the INCONTRI film conference in late April. New projects for the eleventh edition can be submitted until 27 May. RACCONTI is really important to us. The positive feedback we receive every year and seeing the helpful input the program offers for the projects have shown us how valuable it is for the industry. The profiles of all experts and alumni are also available on our website; we’ve built a really great network over the years.
Before we finish, I would like to go back and talk about what’s new in film funding. A lot has happened there last year, after all.
First of all, there is the short film funding program, which was launched last year. We’ve received a lot of submissions from a variety of genres and of good quality throughout, and – and that was a surprise for me – there were a number of coproductions as well. Short films are particularly important for the region: On the one hand, usually more than the required minimum of 60 % of the budget is spent locally; on the other hand, that format is particularly important for up-and-coming film professionals in South Tyrol.
And we also introduced the Green Shooting Certificate. Film productions can apply for it when they can prove that they were acting sustainably and responsibly in various regards. The certification itself is awarded by an independent body. The first few productions (including, for example, BinIchDenn) have already made use of this, and feedback so far has only been positive. We also offer further training on these topics.
So the IDM film fund is taking a clear stance here.
That’s right. Apart from providing concrete funding to productions, one of our core tasks is to support the film industry here in South Tyrol in meeting the various different requirements that the industry will be facing. That also includes providing for the training and further training of both well-established professionals and young talents. Our strength is the periphery, and that is not necessarily something that streaming services have on their radar.