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…and action! Cinema sans convention

Once again the Berlin International Film Festival, also known as the Berlinale, has become the focus of filmmakers and movie buffs from around the world. Every year, DW-AKADEMIE conducts a five-week workshop centered around the red-carpet event. Called “Film Festival and Event Management”, the workshop spotlights young film festival managers from Asia and Africa.

Two of this year's 12 participants are Luzviminda Casagan from Pasay City, the Philippines, and Arthur Mataruse from Cape Town, South Africa. Casagan works for the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, Mataruse for Encounters and the Out in Africa film festivals. We spoke to both of them to find out more about film festivals and filmmaking in their home countries.

How would you describe the importance of films in cinema and television in your home country?

Arthur Mataruse (pictured left): For us, films mainly have the function to strengthen the culture and the common identity in South Africa. Our aim is also to show other cultures and lifestyles.

Luzviminda Casagan: In the Philippines, fewer and fewer people are going to the cinema. One reason is that it is now easier to get films on DVD or from the Internet. Consequently, it's becoming more difficult for filmmakers to distribute and sell their films. Our aim with the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival is to support young Philippine filmmakers whose films provide new insights and pursue new concepts, especially when that promotes art and culture.


Describe for us the local working and production conditions for filmmakers, producers and directors in your home country?

Casagan: In the Philippines, producers within the mainstream film industry have a monopoly. Film producers outside the mainstream do not have a lot of money and resources to produce their films. They need financial support but also backup in the fields of marketing and distribution. That gave us the idea to establish the festival. There are two films by Philippine filmmakers at this year's Berlinale: “Halaw” by Sheron Dayoc and "Sampaguita, National Flower” by Francis Xavier E. Pasion. Both films were co-financed by our festival.

Mataruse: South Africa has a growing and interesting film and TV industry. We have many talented people. During our Encounters and Out in Africa film festivals we offer workshops for documentary filmmakers to boost documentary production in South Africa. Notable examples for productions made by South African filmmakers are “Totsi”, “Yesterday” and “White Wedding”, which have attracted international attention and have been nominated for several media awards. Many South African films deal with the history of our country, especially the apartheid system. Queer productions also play an important role in South Africa – films and plays that deal with homosexuality, bisexuality or transgender issues. One prominent artist in this area is Evita Bezuidenhout, who received a Special Teddy Award at this year’s Berlinale.


What is the most interesting part of this workshop for you?

Casagan (pictured left): I learned a lot, especially how to set up and use systems when organizing festivals. We spoke about the promising Eventival computer program for example. With that program you can plan and conduct a film festival without using paper. I also learned a lot about  how to use the Internet for festival organization, marketing and time management. I will pass on all the information to my colleagues and adopt it for my work.

Mataruse: This workshop is excellent. I think my best experience so far was to meet the other participants. It is a special gift, because we found out that the only difference between us is geography. We all have had different experiences with our work and in life. And to be here in Berlin – to experience the art, culture and history – is just amazing.


What will you take back with you from the European and German colleagues that you've met?

Casagan: I've noticed how disciplined the Germans are. We Philippines should adopt it. I want to bring discipline to my home country and share it with my fellow citizens.

Mataruse: Accuracy and discipline. What I also learned from Germans is to be open to everything.


Author: Kathrin Reinhard

Translation: Ariane Missuweit (df)