News  ·  22 | 12 | 2021

Looking Back on Locarno Industry Academy 2021

In the year of starting a new, Locarno Pro’s workshop program offered 76 young film industry professionals moments of exchange and growth, in Locarno and seven different parts of the world.

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.

A Year of Locarno Industry Academy

“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.

Towards 2022

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.

Our Academy. The Alumni's Voice

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.