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News · 22 | 12 | 2021
There are two dates by which to remember the 2021 editions of the Locarno Industry Academy: April 7 and November 28. The former opened the Beirut Industry Academy, and the season of professional workshops offered by the Locarno Film Festival, while the latter closed the book on the Panama Industry Academy, and the year 2021, less than a month ago. In between, over the course of seven months, another six Academies took place, with 76 participants coming from more than 35 countries worldwide.
The project, which has been training young professionals in Locarno and around the world since 2014, expanded to Southern Africa and South Asia. Two new Academies were launched during a difficult time, which made it even more important to be there, make one’s presence felt and share a forward-looking vision with tomorrow’s film industry generation. A year ago, we vowed to reconvene in person: we managed to do so twice, in Locarno and Thessaloniki. For the other Academies, where meetings were once again managed via screens, the goalpost is moved to 2022.
“The latest edition of the Locarno Industry Academy was a great moment, in professional and human terms - says Marion Klotz, International Project Manager - It was important to be able to bring the participants together for a face-to-face workshop, which kept this year’s group highly motivated and involved. Over the course of seven years, we have seen young European professional profiles evolve and adapt to the reality and challenges of our industry. Virtually all workshops this year had a common thread regarding the subject of constantly adapting. It was also about understanding how to rebuild a viable ecosystem for all those involved in the distribution chain. Locarno and the other Academies showed that the idea of working together, as a network and with a solid foundation, is a priority for young professionals in a post-pandemic age.” The online Academies were just as engrossing, albeit remotely. Says Klotz: “Southern Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Panama, Beirut and South Asia had to go online, and the enthusiasm didn’t decrease. The training the Academy offers seems more necessary than ever for many young professionals, whether it’s for developing one’s own projects or figuring out new practices and strategies within the company they work for.”
The young professionals who got to discover and experience the Academy in 2021 include those who took part in the first edition of the Southern Africa Locarno Industry Academy, which took place from September 26 to October 2. Says Elias Ribeiro, the Project Manager: “In every pioneering space there is so much novelty and excitement that comes with it. There is so much we need to figure out in terms of distribution in Africa: the participants were hungry for the connections with each other, and that alone was a great gift. A lot of times we work in isolation and a network is vital for the flow of content. We have seen many alliances formed, between peers, but also encounters between mentors and mentees that turned into partnerships. It felt a little short and we craved physical presence, but we made it work and built a strong and cohesive group. They are committed to meeting quarterly, to keep working together to help build infrastructure, policies, incentives, and networks for distribution of content in our vast continent. In 2022 we hope to be able to hold the second edition of the program, strengthening it and making it even more relevant to professionals working in sales, distribution, exhibition and programming of films in Africa.”
Having closed the book on 2021, next year is already taking shape. Marion Klotz sums it up: “We hope to be able to have all the Academies in-person by 2022, with the same level of diversity and inclusion we achieved with the online format. And naturally, we hope to continue offering a tailor-made training program for select groups of professionals, strengthening our alumni community and making the Academy experience a unique one for them.”
Southern Africa-Locarno Industry Academy
For me, it was a chance to improve my work and also identify possible future collaborators. I benefited already regarding audience development and event sustainability measures, as well as gained insight into sales, distribution, impact producing and the potential collaborations therein. The pre-organization and organization during the program was excellent.
Thessaloniki-Locarno Industry Academy
It’s really valuable to dedicate some time together to step back from the hustle and bustle of the film industry routine and think back to what we’re actually doing. It’s a fast-evolving field and since I started working, I’ve heard it’s the end of indie films, so it felt very refreshing and inspiring to ‘go back to school’ and learn from the experiences of people who are adapting to new ways of embracing cinema. But most importantly, I enjoyed spending the week with young professionals who are passionate about film and devoted to supporting bold visions and talented filmmakers in all possible ways – and all of that (almost) without mentioning Netflix a single time!
São Paulo-Locarno Industry Academy
It has been a great experience to take part in this year’s Locarno Industry Academy in Sao Paulo. Joining colleagues from different Latin American countries has helped me broaden my vision on distribution in and from our region, which is more special after this long time working mostly online. Together with the theoretical lectures, our group got the chance to share ideas in practical exercises, which was a great occasion to “awaken” our skills for team projects, analyzing audiences and providing strategies for a recent film. Among speakers and participants, the Academy surely became a great opportunity for networking too, even in an online format. And what I valued most is not only the fact about staying connected, but also the great possibility for all the participants to open up and share professional advice and support, with a dedication and human touch that is very much needed in our industry in current times.
São Paulo-Locarno Industry Academy
Thinking about the exhibition and distribution windows for cinema is a fundamental part of the production chain and the market in which we work. There are few events focused on the specifics of distribution and as a professional residing in Brazil, the Industry Academy was an important channel for learning and sharing experiences of this aspect of cinema.
I believe that the confluence of perspectives enriches the conversations the laboratory offers, thus, I would like to encourage the next colleagues to value their professional background and their context of work, because all perspectives talk about existing windows and the ones we are opening. Meeting and strengthening networks with other young professionals are another great opportunity for the IA, do not hesitate to meet the people who are together in your edition.
Furthermore, I think the most rewarding part of what we do is maintaining and nurturing the spaces that connect films to people because these connections are able to make us think and change the imagery and experience we want in the world we live in, and this is very valuable. For me it's super important to do my job with that in mind. After all, the cinema experience is complete only when a film finds its audience.
Beirut-Locarno Industry Academy
The Industry Academy is an opportunity not to be missed, dear young colleagues! The quality of the experience of the speakers and their generosity in sharing information is remarkable. It helped me understand and assimilate so many notions that I didn't know or that seemed unclear to me as a young professional in the film industry. Despite the fact the workshop was online, it was very well managed, and I was able to connect, network and share experiences with the other participants seamlessly. Finally, it is just great to be able to integrate a form of community I can reach out to for feedback for my projects in the long run.
Locarno Industry Academy
The Locarno Industry Academy really manages to bring meaning to concepts which otherwise seem very sterile. It’s the first time I felt truly connected, not only with my peers, but with professionals on all levels and from many fields of the industry. It was much more than simply sharing information. It’s a place where you can feel the pulse of the industry. Everyone joining knows what you’re going through, what drives you and what your struggles are. It’s somewhere to find inspiration, strength and understanding, which at times are more precious than mere skills. The Locarno Industry Academy makes you feel like you belong.
Southern Africa-Locarno Industry Academy
Fellow Academy members were one of my highlights: exchanging about our working environments, and forcing bonds, professional and personal, always opens your world to new ideas and experiences if you connect with your peers. I was given this opportunity to step out of my everyday work circle and through this, I also got new energy to move our content distribution and audience knowledge of our African films to the entire continent, with my new partners. It also gave me the guts to push forward, through the boundaries that are set by some in our industry.
South Asia-Locarno Industry Academy
My experience at the Industry Academy has been a reality check, really. Being in an independent film production company in India and doing every little thing on your own - from conception to sales - it often ends up feeling like you're alone in the journey. The Industry Academy really showed us that we aren't. There were case studies to prove that there are filmmakers in the country who are on the same journey and succeeding! These case studies were honestly the most valuable learnings that I am taking away from here. Plus, the academy gave a real-world insight in how films are essentially a product that, at the end of the day, needs to be sold too, for them to reach the prospective audiences. It’s a perspective I needed to be aligned to. We were introduced to tools and past experiences that equipped us with the knowledge to craft our individual paths in the future – be it in sales, distribution, or festival curation.
Launched in 2014, the Industry Academy has grown significantly on the international scene by offering workshops during the entire year in partnership with important film festivals and institutions: in Mexico with Morelia IFF, in Brazil with BrLab, with the support of Projeto Paradiso, LATAM Cinema and Spcine, in Chile with Australab, in Panama with International Film Festival Panama, in Greece with Thessaloniki IFF, in the US with the NYC-based Film at Lincoln Center, in South Asia with FilmBazaar, in Southern Africa with the Realness Institute and in Beirut with MC Distribution and BCP.
The Industry Academy is possible thanks to the support of the Federal Office of Culture / MEDIA Desk Suisse and the cooperation of three pan-European organizations (Europa Cinemas, Europa Distribution and Europa International).
Click here to discover all ten Locarno Industry Academies.