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Three days, one Academy, one profession to learn. Here is, in the words of the people who took part in it, the result of the sixth edition of the São Paulo-Locarno Industry Academy, organized in partnership with BrLab. «I don't think I will ever be able to describe it properly – admits Caísa Sousa dos Reis Silva - but I can say it was one of the most important turning points for my career (up until now), for the way I see myself professionally, and my perspective of how I could fit in the industry in the future». «Amazing”, adds Jaisia Figueroa Idrogo. “It is one of the best training spaces in which I have participated».
How important was it to be physically together again?
Ignacio Viejo Gonzáles - «After all this time away from each other I think we are longing for a physical connection, so I'd say having the opportunity to get together in the same place to be part of the Academy was pretty important not only for our learning experience, but for our mental health as well.»
Joao - «The Industry Academy is, above all, an immersive process of reflection on the landscape of the audiovisual distribution sector. Although online meetings are more "hands-on", the face-to-face proximity brings another dimension of the audiovisual market. You get to know people beyond a computer screen. And the intensity of the exchanges during the program makes the ideas travel far beyond the duration of a conversation, which could end when the computer camera closes. By being able to get to know people outside the program meetings, a more genuine and potentially more interesting intimacy is created so that projects get off the ground more easily. As well as friendships that will certainly go beyond the Industry Academy.»
Maria Nela Lebeque Hay – «Being able to look at each other, listen to each other, eat together at the same table, sharing our work projects but also our life stories; that’s the key, a secret ingredient of sorts. The pandemic has taught humanity a great lesson: we are not invincible, and there’s people behind every professional project.»
What does it mean for a novice professional to experience a full immersion like this?
Ingnacio - «For me it meant that the Locarno Industry Academy focuses on how much you can learn through experience and critical thinking rather than only the seminars per se. I feel like Locarno encourages the passion and meaning behind every step of filmmaking.»
Joao - «It means getting out of the comfort zone. Although I have been working with distribution for two years, I was misled into thinking that the way to distribute a film was one-dimensional and rectilinear. In fact, it is just the opposite. For a young professional in the industry, as opposed to someone who has been around for a long time and has become used to the distribution process, this immersion comes as a breath and a freshness to develop new ideas and projects within a market that is so consolidated in its own dynamics.»
Gustavo de Almeida - «For me, it was a career-changing experience. It opened my eyes for many sides of the industry I might not be totally aware of and put me in a position to discuss this industry with people from different backgrounds, in different points of their careers and with different perspectives on the industry landscape.»
Maria – «It’s a great opportunity for personal and professional growth. The audiovisual industry is a difficult target to reach, and these spaces are a vital networking laboratory for those who are relatively new to the sector, like us. The tutoring experience is a great example of this, because not only do they listen to us, but they also suggest contacts and strategic alliances with other similarly minded professionals. It’s a successful system, worth replicating.»
Nicole Reyes - «It is a great opportunity to meet other professionals, discuss the different audiovisual landscapes and share our plans for the industry. I found the diversity of people in the selection very pertinent, from ages, ethnicities, professional backgrounds, nationalities, and that was key to the discussions we held inside and outside each session.»
How is the Brazilian/Latam film industry growing?
Gustavo - «The biggest tool for the growth of the Latam film industry is the search for audiences that resemble communities, with a shared sense of culture. The more successful strategies go in the direction of finding these similarities, these demands, and make the content reach these audiences.»
Nicole - «In the Dominican Republic, the number of national productions made increases every year, and there has not only been an increase in quantity, but also in quality. We still have years of development to become an industry, however we are making the transition from being a country that offers cinematographic services, to one that exports quality and culturally relevant films.»
Jaisia - «We are diverse and I love that cultural management initiatives are an important part of our emerging industry, in conjunction with the development and production of film projects.»
Joao - «One of the main questions that came up during the program is: where does the money come from? Everyone has incredible ideas and very strong projects, but how is it possible to live on that alone, without any kind of funding security? It is difficult to outline a single answer, not least because there are variables from each country, such as the forms of public incentive, the adhesion of streaming, the existence of a regulatory agency, the relationship between audience, exhibition and distribution… Although, I believe that the Brazilian and Latin American market is maturing. It is a market surrounded by prominent artists, new talents with great ideas, and a great desire to become an economically and artistically autonomous market in relation to the European market, which for years has had a fetishized look in relation to our production.»
Caisa - «Exponentially, I believe. Right now, it has layers and layers that we can talk about, for example, how accessible technology boosts some narratives, and how the number of courses, scholarships, and civil groups focused on movies have been growing. But the way I see it, movies have been circulating inside Latin American countries through a pedagogical branch. Colleges, festivals, and research centers, maybe because of a recent decolonizing movement in social sciences, have been highlighting more local audiovisual projects.»
What particular memory do you take away from the Academy?
Ignacio - «I take home the moments of friendship we made between the participants of the Academy. It's amazing how much we can share and learn from each other in a week. Knowing we are working towards a closer Latin film industry through human connections is encouraging.»
Gustavo - «The “group therapy session", because that was the moment that I shared, for the first time in an "industry" environment, some very personal fears and anguishes with my career and the industry, and it was very important to hear from colleagues about their own experiences and fears, it made us feel saner and stronger for our next steps.»
Nicole - «The last session called "Group therapy". It was a nice space for vulnerability, to see different realities and get to know each other better as a group. I felt very identified with each story and it was very emotional. In the end, every job we do is made of this, of the personal, of what has led us to be the people and professionals we are today. Being able to reaffirm that we still have a long way to go, but that we have a great team of professionals who support us and believe in what we are doing to change the industry, is very gratifying.»
Maria – «There are so many… The power failure during the session with Lidia Damatto, in the middle of Brazil's first match during the World Cup, was a challenge to our creativity! But I also remember meeting Paula Astorga because it was a real explosion of knowledge. I was able to see that the visual and the physical are part of a transmission of knowledge that is very tangible in Latin America, almost a collective memory that is in our DNA, regardless of the region. And it also reminded us that ultimately, in our field, we are great creators of experiences and the success or failure of what we do will depend on this. Ultimately, that is what we do we do for the public.»