Young Audiences and Young Filmmakers By Peter Cargin
in 6th Lecce Festival of European Cinema
by Peter Cargin
Often when you are walking around an Italian town or city of cultural interest you will see a group of young people wending their way from monument to church and wonder why they are not in school. In fact there will be a teacher with them and this is actually part of their school work. In much the same way during the festival of Lecce, the official competition films were screened to high school kids in their mid-teens in the morning, and repeated for the festival audience that same night. These screenings were arranged in conjunction with a number of schools and provided the young people the chance to see a type cinema they would not normally have experienced in the local multiplexes. Not only would it have been a very different type of cinema but as all films in Italy are dubbed, the kids would be seeing a film with subtitles. In some cases however the films chosen were purely for linguistic purposes, ie with the original dialogue in say English, French or Spanish. There was however a bit of a surprise in store for the class and teacher who had attended the screening of German director Fred Kelemen’s film, Krisana (Fallen). They had expected German dialogue only to find that the languages in the film were Russian and Latvian. In addition to that the film was in black and white, academy ratio, with little ‘action’ and indeed little dialogue, nevertheless the kids were relatively well behaved – although a number of them were engaged in texting on their mobiles ! Each screening is followed by a question and answer session with the director and here Fred Kelemen thought it best not to talk specifically about the film, but more about the problems of young people in general.
In this way the festival was able to engage with schools and young people, and may even have been able to obtain better financial support through this effort. And this was not all, since the local Cultural Association called “Art Promotion” also arranged a course during the week of the festival on Basic Elements of Film Language, which attracted a good number of adults. The course ranged from the origins of cinematic language, through editing, sound, music, camera movement and the use of the cinema frame, with appropriate film extracts.
Not only were young and not so young audiences catered for but the festival also provided six programmes of films by young directors. These ranged from the works of local youngsters from the Puglia region, through two programmes of Emerging European Filmmakers – the works from a competition dedicated to filmmakers under 30 from the European Union and organised by Mifed – to a programme entitled Short Matters. Films in the latter programme arose from an initiative by United International Pictures (UIP) and the European Film Academy in co-operation with twelve film festivals in Europe. At each of these festival a winner is selected which goes on to compete for the Prix UIP, which has an endowment of Euro 10,000.
It was good to note that a small festival like Lecce was trying to broaden its horizons beyond the usual but nevertheless valuable one of screening quality European films, by thinking about future audiences and future filmmakers.