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New Zealand in Clermont 2016

The 38th Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival had 7,646 short films submitted and 166 selected for the festival. Over 400 films play in various competitions, plus a number of retrospectives, programmes for young people, art installations, music events and parties relating to the films. It’s a vibrant and productive meeting of professionals and film enthusiasts, with reportedly over 160,000 tickets sold during the 8-day event.

This was my third time attending Clermont-Ferrand, and by far my most efficient and productive attendance. After observing how some of the European organisations do it previously, I arrived early this year and was able to schedule a lot of meetings in the first few days of the festival while everyone is still here. I was also able to get into the Video Library where you can watch most of the films playing in the festival as well as a number of others provided by participating countries. This was the most efficient way for me to see many of the films I wanted to check out while I was here, and also to prepare for meetings and get the jump on competitors. A lot of other programmers use this method also.

A number of New Zealand films were included in the festival line-up, with Madam Black by Ivan Barge (pictured, top) and Accidents, Blunders and Calamities by James Cunningham both screening in the prestigious International competition section. These films generated large interest from festival programmers, sales agencies and buyers that I spoke with. Madam Black’s distributor Derry O’Brien of Network Ireland Television closed several deals at the festival and is happy with his acquisition. Barge was in attendance at the festival along with the stuffed cat that stars in his film. He generated much interest and hilarity, with a long list of fans wanting pictures with Madam for social media.

Another New Zealander, David White, was attending as a guest of the festival’s Lab section with his film The Couple. White is having much success with his film internationally, despite not being selected for a festival at home. It is his second time at the festival, which makes navigating the networking and deal making much easier.

Gina Dellabarca with Ryan Cheng

Gina Dellabarca with Ryan Cheng, programmer for Taiwan’s Kaohsiung Film Festival, which last year played a retrospective of James Cunningham’s shorts

Jake Mahaffy’s short comedy A.D. 1363, The End of Chivalry has also been available for screening in a special online competitive category called Clicks for Flicks.

The presence of the NZFC was missed at the market this year, and I was asked about this by many programmers, buyers and sales agents. An opening has been left for Show Me Shorts though, and we had many promising meetings with international organisations who still have high regard for New Zealand short films and are keen to do business.

The overall buzz at the market was a little less than in previous years. There appeared to be slightly less people around, but everyone I talked to who was looking for films managed to find a number of great ones. Most of the professionals attending were engaged in meetings throughout the week. It’s a shame that watching films inside theatres takes a bit of a back seat to this. Everyone will return home with long lists of online screeners to work though.

I’m staying on a few days after the end of the market so I can see more films on the big screen. I won’t go on to Berlinale this year as it’s not as useful for me as Clermont. It’s been another great festival for me though. A privilege to be able to represent and advocate for the New Zealand short film community in this space.

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