Snežana Penev, Member of the FEST Board and Organizing Team of Fest Forward
At the 45th FEST the Industry Programme is held for the third time. What is this year’s focus?
This is the third time that the Industry Programme called Fest Forward is held in the framework of FEST and the second year the co-production market is implemented. The focus of the co-production market are fiction and documentary projects for feature films in all stages of development dealing with strong women's issues or which are made by women.
Why did you decide for this segment of the programme to be dedicated to women, whether as authors or as the main theme of film projects?
When we thought about the focus of the co-production market, the most important thing was to be original and not to get into the field of interest of other European markets, which have a long tradition and with which it would be difficult to compete. That is how we got to the narrowly profiled markets with a focus on projects dealing with women and / or whose authors are women. The idea is to promote gender equality for women professionals in film, and thus promote the visibility of film projects with strong women's issues.
On the problem of gender equality in the film industry has long been debated in Europe and worldwide; even some European funds including Eurimages have a working group that is addressing issues of gender equality and representation of women in the film industry. The research in the EU shows that only one out of five films is directed by a woman, and that the majority of public funds intended for film financing, an incredible 84 percent, go to the films directed by men.
How did the local male and female authors react to that idea? Are you satisfied with the response from the region and worldwide?
Thanks to the great commitment of counterpart producers - members of the Serbian Film Producers' Association, the news of an open public invitation for projects spread very quickly not only in Europe, but beyond; therefore, this year on "Women in Film" arrived 52 project applications from 16 countries (Albania, America, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Chile, England, France, Finland, Ghana, Georgia, Netherlands, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia, Germany, Poland, Slovenia, Serbia, Spain, Turkey). Eight projects have been selected that will be presented to the guests of Fest Forward.
Local male and female authors welcome the commitment to the promotion and development of the Industry program each year, as it is in everyone's interest that as many foreign producers, directors of funds, television stations and distributors as possible come to Belgrade and make contact with the local authors.
FEST Industry Programme will also have cinemas i.e. distribution as the topic. What is the current situation in this area?
The question of distribution has been the burning issue for many years. From the beginning of Fest Forward, our focus has been on the both regional as well as world distribution. In 2015 in the first edition of the Industry we had a programme "Bits and Pieces" within which recently completed films or films in post-production were presented to the global distributors and representatives of regional television stations. This year this initiative has been raised on another level of complexity by holding the first Convention of distributors and presenters of Serbia, organized by the Film Center Serbia and in cooperation with the MCF MegaCom Film.
What kind of participants from the region do you expect?
In addition to colleague producers who are the most numerous, our guests will also be directors of film centers, representatives of festivals and co-production market as well as distributors.
Can some progress be noted after the previous two Industrial Programmes at the 43rd and 44th Fest?
The beginning is the hardest. Even though this is just the third year, we are only at the beginning and are still building a foundation. The progress is certainly there, that is reflected primarily in the number of submitted projects, but also in the number of guests that is the largest this time - around 130 film professionals. I must emphasize the fact that much of the credit goes to the Serbia Film Center and the Serbian Film Producers' Association which support the programme financially, but also with its resources and contacts.