For over 5 years, I have been part of the biggest cinema event in the city, a platform for independent international filmmaking.
As a festival, we tried offering the city a plural, diverse, international programme, resulting from a year-long research to experience places through new visions and give new visions to the urban venues.
One of the toughest parts of this role, and sometimes one of the most difficult things to explain to filmmakers who have submitted their film unsuccessfully, is that curation of a festival isn’t just a case of selecting a number of individual titles, but rather about creating a programme as a whole.
Moreover, when I think about what it takes to be a programmer, my instant reaction is ‘a love of cinema but when I dig a little deeper I think it’s a love of audiences.
I watched a lot. Watched as broad a range of content as I could get access to and from all over the world, watched films that fall outside of my immediate interests, and outside of my comfort zone.
But most importantly, knowing my potential audience and stretching the potential for who they could be was the difference between programming for myself and programming for the audience. However, it’s never just a numbers game, their engagement and satisfaction were the real gold medal.
That means often having to choose between two or more titles which might be of high quality and which I might have personally enjoyed, but which are too similar in terms of story, theme, or approach, especially where we had limited programme slots.
It also means reaching a balance in terms of form, tone, geography, and the diversity in representation on screen and behind the camera. Another consideration was how fresh the film was, and the premiere status – is it giving audiences access to a film they may not have had the chance to see before, or even that they might have little opportunity to see it in Italy again?