Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur 2022. Industry Talk with Gabriela Seidel-Hollaender

Ahead of the Industry Events of this year’s Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur, Tara Karajica talks to the Head of Industry, Gabriela Seidel-Hollaender, about this edition’s themes, novelties that have been introduced and what the future holds for the Industry Events.

How are you reshaping the Industry Events? How is this edition of the Industry Events different from the past years? What are the novelties compared to past editions?

Gabriela Seidel-Hollaender: The basic structure of the Industry Events will remain the same as in past editions. As before, there are three parts: The “Swiss Film School Day,” the “Industry Lab” as a space for discussion, innovation, information and networking. Different from before is the third part, which was previously reserved exclusively for the topic of screenplays. The “Writers’ Room” has become the “Creators’ Room” to offer filmmakers the broadest possible and most flexible range of master classes, workshops, training and coaching in various areas of film production while also taking hybrid forms into account. Within the Creators’ Room, in addition to the screenplay, attention will also be paid to other fields of film production: camera, directing, editing, animation, production, film score.

What is the main aim of the Industry Events this year?

G. S.H.: The main goal of the Industry Events this year is once again to inform filmmakers and to offer individual training and networking opportunities. But it is also about picking up on current discourses and trends and using the framework of the festival with its many international guests to initiate productive meetings. Information and inspiration are equally important here.

Switzerland’s film schools are major producers of shorts. Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur offers them a platform to present their films to the public and for dialogue and networking. Can you talk about that segment of the Industry Event called “Swiss Film School Day”?

G. S.H.: Projects from various film schools will be shown at the „Swiss Film School Day.“ The jury of the Swiss Competition gives feedback to the present filmmakers followed by a discussion about the projects. This is an opportunity for the young creatives to face a professional audience and to have the experience of presenting and commenting on their own work in public. This situation is valuable for young filmmakers because it is part of the work that goes into making a film: presenting one‘s work to an audience in public—an important, and beautiful moment, which also needs training.

Can you talk about this year’s Industry Lab lineup?

G. S.H.: The essay „Who cares about Cinema“ by Dennis Vetter, published in Film Comment in January of this year, forms the motto of this year‘s Industry Events. The question, which all filmmakers committed to the preservation of cinema culture ask, refers here to the research area of care ethics, which is a conception of moral philosophy and deals with the evaluation of human action in relation to the mode of caring. Greg de Cuir Jr. will give a keynote speech on this topic dedicated to care ethics in the film festival industry and in curatorial practice, encouraging reflection on responsibility and commitment. In the discussion that will follow, a panel of curators will explore the topic in greater depth. In addition to existing formats, the Industry Lab also has new focal points, especially in relation to current trends in visual production and the endeavor to introduce industry representatives who have not yet been to Winterthur before.

The discussion series “The Future of Shorts” has been a regular part of the Industry Lab for several years. It is dedicated to the significance, distribution, and reception of shorts in national and international festival contexts. This year’s panel, titled “Curating as a Political Act,” addresses a theme that is especially relevant in light of recent political events. Can you comment on that?

G. S.H.: With this panel, we are obviously taking aim at the current political crisis. One of the speakers is the Ukrainian co-curator of the exhibition, Olexii Kuchanskyi, whose program “To Watch the War – The Moving Image Amidst the Invasion of Ukraine” will be exhibited in Winterthur at the same time as the festival (Coalmine Winterthur, 18.09.-18.12.2022). But the question of the political moment of curating does not only exist in this specific context, but naturally also arises in every other curated program. Curating is political per se, as there is always a meaning to what is shown and what is not. It is about reflecting on the responsibility of the curators of film programs and their effect on the audience, and about how to curate political films politically without just knocking down open doors.

What about the panel “New Formats,” where programmers, producers, and other creatives present recent trends and innovations in the areas of series, web productions, and social media, addressing the unique characteristics of these works and their target audiences? How are these new formats reshaping the short film industry?

G. S.H.: That‘s a good question, which we want to explore in this panel. This year, the panel is entitled „Cinema versus TikTok – What Is the Future of Film?“ and it will be about the extent to which the ultra-short format of TikTok, which is nevertheless a film format, influences our viewing habits and where and how it finds its way into the world of cinema. This concerns both the short and the feature film industries. The aesthetics of the fast cuts of social media formats have long since influenced short and feature-length film productions. Or is it the other way round? In any case, acceleration alone does not make a feature film; what is needed here is a different rhythm with pauses for rest and reflection, space and time to catch one‘s breath and allow for reflection and an experience.

Going back to the former Writers’ Room, which was dedicated exclusively to screenwriting, and has now been renamed Creators’ Room in order to include creative processes in other fields. Can you talk about this year’s Creators’ Room?

G. S.H.: Yes, the „Writers’ Room“ has become the „Creators’ Room“ to give space to other fields of film production besides the script. There are many crafts that often receive too little attention, even though they are essential for filmmaking. I am thinking, for example, of editing, which plays a decisive role in the rhythm and dramaturgy of a film. Film music could also be one of the next focal points for the „Creators’ Room.“ The fact that many films have a hybrid form between documentary and feature film, and that there are increasingly feature films made without a script and work with improvisation, is the reason why this year‘s „Creators‘ Room“ is dedicated, among other things, to the topics of improvisation and working with nonprofessional actors. 

How does the Industry Events of Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur help filmmakers? What does it give them?

G. S.H.: In addition to information, discourse, practical training and insights into professional work, the Industry Events offer low-threshold contacts through networking events. The aim is to help filmmakers realize their projects. I also hope that the industry events will inspire, promote critical reflection and give courage.

What would you say sets this Industry Events apart from other Industry Events on the short film festival circuit? Do you collaborate with other short film festivals?

G. S.H.: Yes, we are in close contact with other short film festivals. Representatives from numerous international short film festivals are our guests and are present at the industry events, especially at the so-called „Market Meetings.“ But we also cooperate with other institutions in Switzerland and abroad, especially with SWISS FILMS, with whom we jointly present the format „Introducing International Industry Representatives.“ The Turin-based Italian Talents and Short Film Market is also involved in this format. This year, we are also cooperating with the Berlin WOCHE DER KRITIK (Berlin Critics‘ Week) for the keynote and roundtable on Care Ethics. And, we are organizing the Swiss industry information in cooperation with Pro Short, the interest group of Swiss short film. Of course, I am not familiar with all the international short film festivals and their industry events, even though we naturally exchange ideas with many of them. Above all, we try to offer a good mix of information, discourse and practical training, and to be up to date and relevant in terms of content. But in my opinion, the special thing about the Industry Events in Winterthur is the openness and low-threshold nature combined with the good atmosphere in which the event takes place.

Can you give tips to short filmmakers when attending industry events at short film festivals?

G. S.H.: Be there and get involved. Exchange ideas, use the opportunity to network.

What are your plans for the future of the Winterthur International Short Film Festival Industry Events?

G. S.H.: We will continuously evaluate and develop the formats of the Industry Events. One of our goals is certainly to make the Industry Events even more European and International. We are also planning to set up the „Creators‘ Room“ in a more precise and targeted manner and to think about further suitable development formats for short film. But the Industry Events of Kurzfilmtage are also intended to be a gateway for feature-length films, series, social media formats and films at the interface with the visual arts. Here, too, there is still a lot of development potential for the future.

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