FNE Visegrad YR2022: Q&A with Febiofest’s Artistic Director Marta Švecová Lamperová


    PRAGUE: FNE spoke to Marta Švecová Lamperová, the artistic director of the International Film Festival Prague - FEBIOFEST, about the 29th edition of FABIOFEST in Prague, which will take place in a physical format from 28 April to 4 May 2022, in compliance with state regulations regarding the safety of participants.

    Marta Švecová LamperováMarta Švecová Lamperová talks about both the challenges and the difficulties that the pandemic has created for the festival, as well as the programme, industry days and other important issues of the Czech film industry.

    FNE: How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your event and will this edition be a full return to normal or will you still be feeling some impact of the pandemic?

    Marta Švecová Lamperová: The COVID-19 has impacted both previous editions of the festival to a great extent. We had to postpone the festival, rework the programme, as meanwhile the selected films had gone to other festivals or platforms. We have lost some sponsors who were not capable to contribute anymore. We had to compromise on many aspects regarding the comfort of our audience participation.

    Simultaneously, we used it as an opportunity to examine what represents our position on the market and to learn a new way to communicate with our audience by creating hybrid events. The impact of the pandemic has still not vanished, this edition will be shorter in days and also the size of the event will be smaller. We will keep a hybrid format, especially for the Industry sessions, but we will also showcase selected curated content on the partner VOD platforms.

    FNE: Do you anticipate any long-term changes in how festivals function? In the workplace in general, there is a perception that working from home will become more common, but festivals are a gathering place. Can they bridge that distance between social distancing and bringing people together?

    Marta Švecová Lamperová: By their very nature, film festivals are public gatherings designed to celebrate cinema and to bring filmmakers together with audiences in a dark room. The COVID-19 has spawned online festivals or hybrid physical-online events. It may be the way forward, but for us, we feel the physical format is the ideal. There is no substitute for the mingling of industry guests, who can find potential future collaborations, even friendships.

    Festivals provide a vital source in understanding the issues and trends in various territories and in offering a window to cinemas that sadly may not reach the delegate’s own country. They additionally provide a key interaction for the filmmaking teams with the audience, something that is becoming increasingly rare in the new streaming climate, and one that likewise often sees years of hard work forgotten after a very quick, muted release.

    FNE: What can you tell us about the festival's 2022 release and film programme? Can you talk us through the selection process of this year’s festival lineup?

    Marta Švecová Lamperová: The 29th edition of the Prague International Film Festival – Febiofest will showcase around 100 Czech and international titles. Seven films will be competing in the Main Competition. Another seven films will be competing in the Comedy Competition section. In cooperation with Amnesty International, the festival also selects seven films across all sections that are competing for the Febio - Amnesty International Award.

    The physical festival will take place 28 April - 4 May 2022. The festival will this year dedicate a large part of the programming to Ukrainian filmmakers, presenting films by Valentin Vasyanovich, Katerina Gornostai, Nariman Aliev, and others. This year’s Kristián Award for contribution to cinema will go to the Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov. The programme also includes sections such as: Eastern Delights, Queer Now, Docs, Culinary Cinema, Panorama, VR section, and Girls in Film, among others, showcasing titles like Truffle Hunters by Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw, Bergman Island by Mia Hansen-Løve, Sundown by Michel Franco or The Line by Ursula Meier, among others. The Prague section, which will take place mainly at the Slovansky dum, will be followed by a regional tour all over the Czech Republic.

    FNE: What can you tell us about the festival's industry programme? How will the event be different from the previous 2 years?

    Marta Švecová Lamperová: The industry programme has been limited typically to online events in the previous years, but in 2022 we will have the programme partly online and partly on-site. Mainly, specific lectures and workshops will be online, as this way we are capable to reach a wider professional audience. In 2021 our focus was on the understanding of Bitcoin, the Lightning Network and Podcasting 2.0. This year we will focus on best practices of sustainable film production processes during the Green filming workshop, the Pitching presentation of young scriptwriting talents to the professional audience, and lectures on: Social media for filmmakers, Running sustainable film companies in challenging times, and many others.

    FNE: Has the pandemic crisis impacted the Czech film industry and in what way?

    Marta Švecová Lamperová: The pandemic has largely influenced the Czech film industry, with cinemas being closed for a long time and film production having difficulties keeping up with the deadlines. The admissions in cinemas right now are increasing in a very slow manner, with art house films being even more marginalised. Festivals are striving for support, as the number of potential sponsors has decreased. But in all this there is an opportunity to redefine your potential in how to reach your audience and to rethink your strategies.

    FNE: Do you think audiences will want to come back to the cinemas now that they got used to seeing films online?

    Marta Švecová Lamperová: This is worthy of further discussion, especially as we see the decline of distributors who operate in the middle-ground of their native territories. Festivals clearly need to care for their existing audiences and to discover what they liked and disliked about their festival experience. Ways of reaching out to other potential audiences who may not have considered a festival as something for them, also need to be explored. More extensive involvement of the local viewer and targeting apathy (even amongst film school students) need to be addressed.

    Clearly the pathways to receiving films are no longer linear and therefore more thought is needed as to what is the best way to ensure the optimum pathway for titles. Festivals are certainly a part of this, creating a unique space for the promotion and reception of films and filmmakers.

    The 2021-2022 Year of Recovery for Film in Visegrad Countries (YR2021) project sponsored by the Visegrad Fund brings together filmmakers and cultural professionals across the V4 to cooperate in the recovery of the film industry, which has been badly damaged by the COVID pandemic, and to reconnect with cinema audiences across the region and across borders. We want to share the lessons learned about reaching audiences online and the advantages of hybrid events in creating new connections across the Visegrad region.