Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival from February 1st to February 8th
I slept a bit better last night and so was able to get up and out by 10:00am but had no real schedule except to see some films in the video library and try to talk to some people in the market. I was able to make an appointment at the video library from noon until 2:00pm and caught up on some films I wanted to see, including Min börda (The Burden) (funny and yet deeply sad) and Mixtape Marauders (just about perfect, at least to this mixtape-loving music nerd).
By 2:30pm, I was hungry and tired again so grabbed lunch at Quick and then dashed home for a nap. I was back at the market for Happy Hour, but apart from speaking briefly with Danny Lennon (who introduced me to filmmaker Chris Lavis, who made Madame Tutli-Putli) and Laurence Boyce, I didn’t find it fruitful. The crowds are just too thick, and I find that draining. Earlier in the day, I’d run quite by accident into Derry O’Brien from Network Ireland Television. We’ve been corresponding about our upcoming screening and so it was good to make the connection in person. I’d met his colleague Sadhb Murphy earlier in the week. I seem to have met most of the Irish delegation this year anyway, so that was definitely valuable.
I wrapped up the festival and my time in Clermont-Ferrand with a lovely dinner with local Ilias Tahri, who is volunteering at the festival after returning from volunteering at Sundance. Along with his twin brother and his brother’s girlfriend, we ate at La Tente Berbère, a charming Moroccan restaurant. After a filling meal of Tagine Berbère, a honey-filled pastry and a coffee, I was ready for an early bedtime. Ilias has been incredibly generous, providing a lift from the airport, a SIM card with lots of data, tonight’s meal, and just a general sense of support for someone like me with minimal French language skills. I’m very grateful to have met him, and hope I can return the favour somehow.
This year’s festival was in some ways easier than my visit in 2014, but also a bit tougher. I was fatigued but felt I was more strategic in my viewing opportunities. I did more socializing, but still felt shy. I met more people but failed to connect with any filmmakers. I littered the market and the Maison de la Culture with Shorts That Are Not Pants bookmarks, but worry that it won’t have much impact on film submissions. But it’s a good start, and I hope to follow up with all of my new contacts by email in the next few months. My only real regret this trip is that I didn’t get to enjoy a meal at Avenue. A good enough reason to return in 2019? Let’s hope so!