Our research is focused on the effects the pandemic has on film festivals in Greece and their online editions. Together with Konstantinos, we decided to reflect upon organizational and program-related aspects of film festivals that are now confined to the online sphere because of the pandemic. The city seems to be in a deep-freeze state: cinemas and other types of cultural venues suffocate because of institutional and governmental policies that only allow for their bare existence. We are trying to trace small attempts of survival & transformation: of things and events we took for granted and of new situations we never thought possible.
In this framework, we decided to conduct interviews with film festival professionals based in Greece and extensively discuss with them some parameters and feelings that they had to face this past year regarding online editions of film festivals. This is a work in progress, an open discussion, that strives to reflect on the present & aims towards a small- scale cartography of the encounters the festivals had with their audiences and the changes that occurred within their organizational processes; they exhausted themselves in zoom meetings and slow internet connections to produce online editions of film festivals. Our questions started off in a specific framework but we are open to new subjects rising through the discussions we are having long-distance.
The theoretical basis of this project is going to be a group of articles addressing the subject and Konstantinos’ doctoral research thesis regarding film festivals as cultural organizations and market spaces and their role in the education of the professionals of the film industry.
See below, some of the questions that pop-up in conversation:
- What were your initial feelings when informed that festivals are being cancelled ?
- How did you experience this sudden change in your interpersonal communications?
- In which ways do you think this changed your relationship with your audiences?
- How would you relate the concept of “loss” with the online film festival?
- Did your relationships with the venues and cinemas you collaborate with change in some ways?
- How do you relate the concept “encounter” with that of the online film festival?
- What were the most interesting reactions you faced with regards to your audiences?
We attempt to work on a thick description of the subject in question, that focuses on 5 individual informants and simultaneously reflects on our personal experiences as cultural workers who are active in different fields: Konstantinos being a professional in the film industry and film festivals and myself being a cultural worker in the field of contemporary visual arts. The first out of the six interviews was an interview I did with Konstantinos, asking him about the ways in which“Ethnofest – The Athens Ethnographic Film Festival” has responded to this new reality. The second interview was one Konstantinos conducted with me, where we discussed how I experienced this reality in the context of contemporary visual arts since this is my field of work. These conversations helped us discover a lot of common issues, but also differences between our work fields as well as several recurring concepts such as that of “loss”, “connection”, “encounter” and “feelings of shock”.
We are looking forward to the rest of the interviews and it’s already been a very interesting process despite all difficulties. Interviewing each other we are already learning a lot, drawing from our current state of work and existence, our role in the institutions we work at, and projects that occupy our interests and schedules. Finally, we are hopeful that we will be able to write a sufficiently informative text, but also possibly experiment with other means of keeping a record of the process.