INTERVIEW WITH… SKEPTO FILM FESTIVAL
Having had our eye (and clients’ submissions) on the festival circuit for a long stretch, there are particular festivals that hold a certain charm whether it be the interaction we have with them, or their approach to programming. Skepto Film Festival has always been a favourite with us because of the varied programme it hosts – experimental // documentaries // fake trailers // short films // animation and many more. With their deadline coming up 4th December, we took some time to speak to Stefano Schirru (Artistic Director and Programmer) and Francesca Vacca (Co-Artistic Director, Programmer and Secretary) about the festival as a whole and their thoughts on the circuit…
Tell us a bit about your job, and what you do…
We deal with short films’ selection (we see all the submitted short films), artistic direction, programming, and… a lot of other little things: Skepto is a small independent festival, so every member of our association has to collaborate to sort out the organisational problems as they come up! Officially, Stefano is the festival’s artistic director and Francesca is in charge of the festival’s secretary.
Skepto, as of next year, will have been running for six years. What’s changed with each year?
We’d like to tell first what has not changed at all: our informal approach and our enthusiasm for this festival! But of course many other aspects have changed; above all, Skepto has grown up beyond our best expectation: from the completely self-financed first edition we arrived in 2014 to the 5th edition, with an audience of more than 10000 people, dozens of filmmakers attending the festival and parallel screenings in several European and Mediterranean cities. We now have slightly more means to organize the event but, on the other hand, the organisation and coordination complexity have increased too. From an artistic point of view, the festival’s programme has interestingly evolved with the creation of thematic sections and awards (depending on the year we have had animation, horror, satire & grotesque, short documentary, environmental sustainability, cinema & integration…) and side events like meetings, workshop and our favourite: the “cinematic aperitifs”, informal meetings with authors, jury members and audience, accompanied by a good glass of wine!
You have an open policy to submissions, as in you don’t have separate categories. Is there one genre/format that you get a lot of interest in?
We prefer to have not separate categories from the start, because this allow us to make a really varied programme and to highlight the most interesting films that we receive. We are really interested in the environmental sustainability theme (also because of some of our partnerships) and we definitely love satirical, grotesque and “particular” films: we were a little afraid in 2012, when we first introduced the special session “Skeptyricon”, but the audience welcomed it with great enthusiasm and it has become a “must” of our festival.
What’s the one piece of advice you wish you could give filmmakers directly before they submit to you?
Just have a look at the few and simple festival’s rules and, if you have any doubt or questions, feel free to contact us! We do our best to be helpful and friendly with all the filmmakers interested in our festival.
Let’s talk subtitles – any advise to filmmakers who want to submit but don’t have a subtitled version?
We recommend to try to get a subtitled version, as subtitles are really important for our festival; we require English subtitles (for the Italian films, too) because we have quite an international audience (the festival is attended every year by many filmmakers but also by tourists and foreigners living in Cagliari, and moreover we organise parallel screenings in several European and Mediterranean cities). Some filmmakers are a bit startled because we require these subtitles also for English-spoken films, but we do so in order to favour the audience’s comprehension: indeed, Italian audience have usually more acquaintance with written English than with spoken English.
What’s your advice to someone who gets a rejection from a festival?
Don’t be discouraged and… Don’t get angry :-) Most festivals, like ours, receive hundreds of short films and the programmers have to make difficult choices: we are often forced to exclude very interesting films for the benefit of the programme’s balance. Moreover, a rejection can also be an occasion to think about our own work and its stronger and weaker aspects.
Tell us the best and worst part of your job.
The best part is, no doubt, the fantastic atmosphere during the festival days, in April: we meet so many interesting people from many different countries (filmmakers, jury members, or simply enthusiast people from the audience) and there is a really stimulating but also informal and friendly environment, enhanced by the magic beauty of Cagliari old town centre. The worst part is dealing with the bureaucracy: sometimes we find ourselves in quite “Kafkaesque” situation…
Share with us one of your favourite films and tell us why you like it…
This is a difficult one. There are so many films that we love and that would represent Skepto very well but in the end we chose the winner of the first edition: Milkman by James Rumsey. It is a really involving and original film and we are very attached to it. Moreover its author is one of the first Skepto guests and he has become a great friend of ours.
Thanks so much to Stefano and Francesca for taking time to tell us more about their festival. Remember the deadline is 4th December so plenty of time to get that submission ready!
Stefano Schirru and Francesca Vacca are among the founding members of Skepto Cultural Association, that has been organising Skepto International Film Festival since 2009. They are cinema & short films enthusiasts and, after some experiences as filmmakers that put them in contact with the world of short film festivals, they pursued the dream to share their passion with other people and to turn it into an exciting opportunity for their own city (Cagliari, in Sardinia).