INTERVIEW WITH… JUKKA-PEKKA LAAKSO OF TAMPERE FILM FESTIVAL
We have the delightful pleasure of talking to Jukka-Pekka Laakso, one of the head programmers of Tampere Film Festival on the blog today. A prolific long-standing short film festival, it’s an event we return to with submissions on behalf of our clients again and again. Their deadline is December 1st, so do make sure you check it out for your film.
Tell us a bit about your job, and what you do…
Sometimes I wonder that myself… But seriously, I am one of the persons responsible of the programming and strategies of Tampere Film Festival. To do that, I see a lot of films, including the films sent for us to be considered for competition and attend other festivals too. The programing and strategies are planned with our co-director, and together we also worry about the budgets and we both keep in touch with supporters, sponsors ect. Of course we have also a board of directors that keeps an eye on us and we try to give responsibility to others working for the festival.(you might want to ask a second opinion on this) During the festival I am also the front man, the official mouthpiece, and generally the face of the festival. Besides the festival I also work as a executive director for Pirkanmaa film centre, a separate association, that owns an art house cinema, distributes films and works quite a bit on film education.
The festival’s been running for a long time, why do you think film festivals remain popular?
Tampere Film Festival is one of the oldest short film festival, running since 1970. I think the popularity is because Tampere is important for Finnish film scene, there are no big international film festival in traditional sense, with international broad competition with directors invited with their films in Finland. Also I think that we have a good mix of taking cinema seriously, but not being too serious doing that, Tampere is tough festival, films deal with issues, but we have also possibilities for film makers and general audiences to meet each other and talk, both in organized fashion at talks and masterclasses, but also quite disorganised late at night, And there is of course the famous Tampere Sauna party with Finnish sauna and a swim in the lake. In March, so we make a hole in the ice, so one can do the swim. The stories and the pride of those who have been here and done that is still good marketing that one hears everywhere.
You accept films that have been screened on the Internet, whereas some festivals are reluctant to. What’s your argument for including them, and is there a real reason why other festivals wouldn’t want to?
I can see the point, that if one can see that film on the net, why would anyone bother to go and see it at a festival. We think that the things that we offer make the difference, not exclusivity…
1. the curating, any film is seen with others, and they together make the screening and/or the festival .
2 The people, film makers and other people you see the film with, that you can talk with about the festival is important part. no online community is near personal communication.
3. Cinema. We show films at cinemas, and that alone is totally different from the net.
So obvious to some, less to others. There are still enough people of the first kind.
If money were no issue, what would you love to have happen at your festival?
Suport more the film makers, so they all could be here for 5-6 days. More screens and more relaxed timetable, maybe add one day. More technical people to run every screening beforehand to check picture and sound. More people to work on small details.
Why should people submit to Tampere Film Festival?
Reputation among film makers. Getting to our competition is good when you want a good run at other festivals, our curating is respected. A chance to come to Tampere, we generally seem to make film makers feel that it makes sense to be here, they feel that they are noticed and respected and they make good contacts.
What’s your advice to someone who gets a rejection from a festival?
Do not take it personally. There are more good, even good enough films than we or any festival can fit in the competition. Every year the hard part of doing the selection is to leave out great films. That is how it is, but try again at other festivals with other films.
Tell us the best and worst part of your job.
The best part is that I get to see hundreds of films from everywhere in the world and I do still enjoy to travel to other parts of the world to sometimes watch them at other festivals. I learn so much from them. It is also great when one can present a film that is special, maybe ”difficult” and a random person comes and thanks for it.
Bad is the constant worry, how to make ends meet next year, but maybe the worst is when you tell a friend, a film maker that sorry, your film is not in the competition, not this year.
Share with us one of your favourite films and tell us why you like it…
‘House is Black’, by Forough Farrokhzad, her only film, She was a poetess from Iran, still famous, well known, if not loved by current administration in Iran. Something completely different, for me also excellent reminder that there is cinema outside our western world and a good film is a film that stands also the test of time.
Thanks so much to Jukka for speaking to us about Tampere. Do check out their website for more information about submitting for the next edition.
Jukka-Pekka Laakso is the festival director of Tampere Film Festival. As a festival director he shares the responsibility of strategic planning and programming with a co-director. He acts also as the executive director for Pirkanmaa Film Centre, a non-profit organisation that runs an art-house cinema, distributes films in Finland and works in media education. Jukka-Pekka is also a member of Finnish National Council for Cinema.