Tag Archives: Clermont-Ferrand 2018

Clermont-Ferrand 2018: Day 6

Crowds at the market at Clermont-Ferrand 2018

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).

Mixtape Marauders (Still)

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!

Clermont-Ferrand 2018: Day 4

Clermont-Ferrand 2018 Poster

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival from February 1st to February 8th

Another terrible night’s sleep meant another lost morning, but the first event of my day wasn’t until 2:00pm. In fact, the entire afternoon was dedicated to several panels and meetings of the Short Film Conference, an organization of short film festivals that we’ve just recently joined. It began at 2:00pm with a presentation by my friend Jason Sondhi from Short of the Week on the “Be Everywhere All At Once Strategy” for short filmmakers. He made a great case for filmmakers making their online launch an important cornerstone of their overall festival strategy.

That was followed by a panel made up of African film festival professionals, who discussed the challenges of getting more African films screened at festivals around the world. It was interesting to hear that there are several large festivals on the continent that have been established since the 1960s, and that there are a lot of films that play at those festivals but go no further.

Another panel followed on the nuts and bolts of making a living as a festival director, with participants from such different corners of the world as Korea, Brazil, New Zealand and Switzerland. Hearing about how the political climate in some countries made funding unstable was a bit of an eye opener for me.

Then there was a meeting discussing some of the organizational issues for the group, which was less interesting, but they announced their choice for Short of the Year, which was Min Börda (The Burden), directed by Niki Lindroth von Bahr. I’ve yet to see it but will try to catch it in the video library.

Then the drinking started. First an informal social where the panels had been held, and then we moved on to a party held by the Scandinavians, then the Short Film Conference dinner, held at the Salvation Jane pub, and then the German party. The “dinner” was definitely a letdown for me, with only finger foods on offer.

It was nice to spend most of the day with a smaller group of people, and walking from place to place with them was a good chance to talk even when the parties themselves were louder and more chaotic. I stayed out until about 12:30am and enjoyed myself quite a bit.

Clermont-Ferrand 2018: Day 3

Cathedral, Clermont-Ferrand

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival from February 1st to February 8th

I had modest ambitions for today that became even more modest after I woke up at 3:30am and couldn’t fall back asleep until after 7:30am. Eventually, I woke towards noon! All I wanted to do today was get some time at the video library so I could watch individual films and I was able to book two hours from 1:30-3:30pm where I watched a bunch of stuff. The best was Fry Day, a coming-of-age story set on the eve of Ted Bundy’s execution. This female-directed film had a lot to say about the victimization of women, even when it’s not at the hands of a serial killer. I was also delighted to discover that the score was by my friend Ariel Marx, who seems busier than ever these days.

After that it was a quick late lunch at fast food chain Quick (I recommend the “Long Bacon” sandwich) and then home for a quick refresh which of course included a nap, although I kept it to 40 minutes this time. Then it was out to socialize at the Swiss Cocktails at the Hotel Olympia, near the Maison de la Culture. There was a significant queue and I didn’t get in until after 6:30pm, and then didn’t recognize anyone in the crowded room. My least favourite scenario. Luckily, I knew that Gina from Show Me Shorts was coming, and I’d also arranged to meet up with Eibh Collins (of the Galway Film Fleadh, Indie Cork, and more). Even luckier, before that Sven Schwartz (from the Hamburg Short Film Festival and A Wall is a Screen) recognized me and we chatted for a while. He slipped me an invite to the German party which is happening tomorrow night, too. I lost track of Gina quite quickly, but Eibh was lovely and we talked about my upcoming Irish shorts screening, Cork, ADIFF, and more. She also introduced me to Una Feely and James Mulvey from Indie Cork. I also got to meet Sebastian Simon from the Busan International Short Film Festival in Korea. He’s a filmmaker as well as a programmer, and he recognized our logo and said he submitted (unsuccessfully) a few years ago!

I also ran into Jason Anderson from TIFF, and it was nice to chat with him a bit. It’s strange how it’s often easier to meet someone you know locally when you’re both far from home. After a couple of hours, I was tired and decided to leave. On my way out, Ben Bekke Vandendaele recognized me. He’s the co-producer on Deer Boy, by my friend Katarzyna Gondek, and we met just a few weeks ago at Sundance. He also heads up Radiator Sales, so I should talk to him about submitting some films for our festival this year. And then one of the Swiss Films women who were hosting the event introduced herself to me. Aida Suljicic is the Head of Programmes, and I plan to meet up with her again one day this week in the short film market.

So although I felt like my usual introverted self, reading this back I didn’t actually do too poorly. I’ve made a few connections that I can take into tomorrow and the rest of the week. Although I left the party alone and without plans for the rest of the night, I feel pretty good. I can always use more rest.

By the way, I spotted my elusive mentor Danny Lennon on his way into the party but then couldn’t find him later. I’m sure once I find him, he’ll help me kick up the socializing into another gear, but I’m happy to be home writing this blog entry before 10:00pm.

Clermont-Ferrand 2018: Day 2

Crowds at Clermont-Ferrand 2018

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival from February 1st to February 8th

My plan today seemed reasonable: I’d see three back to back programmes in the same cinema. I was up in plenty of time to get to the Salle Vian (the smaller of the two cinemas at the Maison de la Culture) by 11:00am for I5 (International Competition 5). All the films were quite strong, but the highlight for me was probably Miss Wamba, a stylish film from Spain about unexpected connection at a funeral parlour.

Miss Wamba (Still)

I was able to exit and come back in for the next screening, L1 (Lab Competition 1), another strong lineup with the standout being Proch (Dust), an absolutely devastating Polish documentary about the journey of the body and personal belongings of a recently deceased person, apparently without family or friends.

My plan was to exit and re-enter for I6, but by the time I got out, the line for the cinema was overwhelming, spilling far out into the lobby. I decided I could see the whole programme another time, or just watch the films in the viewing library.

I got a good start on distributing the Shorts That Are Not Pants bookmarks I had made. I’m hoping to attract some filmmaker submissions from people visiting or showing films here.

Then I headed home for another 40 minute nap that turned into a two hour nap. Earlier on, I’d messaged with Gina Dellabarca, director of the Show Me Shorts Festival in New Zealand, and we arranged to meet up at 7:00pm for dinner. Gina was one of the first people I met here back in 2014 and it was really nice to reconnect. We ate delicious gallettes and washed them down with cider at Le 1513, a restaurant housed in a 500 year old building. Their web site looks nearly as old. 🙂

After that, we walked down toward the Maison de la Culture again so I could pop in to L’Univers, a brasserie that’s open late that seems to be the go-to spot for festival insiders. Danny Lennon of Prends ça court! had mentioned we should meet up for a drink there sometime today, so I thought I’d see if he was there. Coming up empty, I just walked home and was back by 9:30pm. Hope to connect with him and a few others tomorrow, and figure out the video library, too.

Clermont-Ferrand 2018: Day 1

Opening Night at Clermont-Ferrand 2018

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival from February 1st to February 8th

Jet lag was still a factor today, as I woke up initially at 5:00am and then ultimately slept until 11:30am! There wasn’t much on the agenda today except to pick up my accreditation and the office didn’t open up until 2:00pm. So I wandered up the familiar Rue de la Treille and found my old spot Le menhir, where I stopped in for a lunch of a gallette called “Le poulet grand-pere” which was filled with chicken, potatoes, and mushrooms. Delicious!

I got to the Maison de la Culture around 2:30pm and had a good hour’s wait in line to pick up my pass, catalogue, and shoulder bag. A sense of familiarity was welcome as I found my way to the right place. I also picked up a ticket for tonight’s opening presentation at 8:00pm.

After a quick browse at FNAC on the way home (no, I didn’t buy any more DVDs!), I returned to my room and quickly fell asleep. A planned 40 minute nap turned into two hours (again) and when I woke up, I only had a few minutes to get ready to head back down to the Maison de la Culture.

I had a very good seat near the front, and after I picked up my headphones for English translation, I settled into my seat. There were a few speeches, but not many, and it was mostly about introducing the various juries and programmes for the week. It was all interspersed with a selection of older short films, which I assume have played here in the past. The festival is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, which is a remarkable accomplishment, and it was inspiring to hear Antoine Lopez, one of the co-founders, still speaking passionately about how the festival was founded to defend short film as a valuable art form. He has grown the festival from 1,200 visitors in its first edition in 1979 to more than 160,000 visitors last year. It’s always inspiring to hear numbers like that, and to look around the Salle Jean Cocteau to see 1,400 people who love to watch shorts.

Having neglected to eat dinner, I was feeling a bit hungry on my way home. What a surprise then that my hostess, Delphine, had left me a lovely note telling me that she had made crepes and that there were two waiting for me in the fridge. She has been so kind and generous to me; last night she left a note on the door for her children telling them I’d had a long flight and not to make too much noise.

Well, tomorrow is the first full day of screenings, so I’d better crack open the massive catalogue and start making a schedule. One of the themes this year is gastronomy, so it’s not too inappropriate for me to talk about a feast of short films. Now to go and look at the menu! 🙂