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“With Connect to Reality we want to understand what’s going on beyond our borders”

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Nadia Dresti • Vice artistic director and head of International, Locarno Festival

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- Cineuropa caught up with Nadia Dresti, vice artistic director and head of International at the Locarno International Film Festival, who talked to us about the upcoming edition of Industry Days

Nadia Dresti  • Vice artistic director and head of International, Locarno Festival

After a shining career in the film industry, Nadia Dresti joined the Locarno Film Festival in 1990, becoming a member of the selection committee and placed in charge of the Industry Office. Thanks to her, this has pulled in a steadily increasing number of professionals from all over the world, gaining a fame that reaches well beyond national borders. In 2003 she helped to launch Open Doors, the new co-production workshop at Locarno. Three years later, she was appointed Artistic Direction Delegate, and in 2010 launched Industry Days, then becoming, in 2013, Head of International. Her ties to the Locarno Film Festival were further strengthened this year when she became Vice Artistic Director whilst also continuing to direct the activities of the Industry Office as Head of International.

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Cineuropa: Dialogue and networking dominate the Industry Days at Locarno (Match Me! and First Look). Can you talk to us about that?
Nadia Dresti: Markus Duffner is the project manager of “First Look” and “Match Me!”. The former is for films in post-production that are presented at Industry Days. Every year these films come from a different country, this year it’s the turn of the Baltic countries: Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, six from each. The producers will present their films to a jury made up of Charles Tesson (Critics’ Week at Cannes), Sylvain Auzou (Venice Days) and Janet Pierson (director of the South by Southwest Film Festival of Austin). “First Look”, this year in its seventh edition, has proven very successful and a number of the films shown at Locarno have gone on to be selected for important festivals like Sundance. All the film institutes that have participated have asked how they could work with us, and that’s how the “Match Me!” initiative came about. The room the event will be held in this year will have 10 tables of 10 people, including the director of an institute accompanied by three young producers, upcoming producers let’s say. Over three days, Markus decides who to invite to the table; it’s a lunch networking event that works very well. 

Another initiative that focuses on young people is the “Industry Academy”. What does it involve? 
We realised that often, after years of experience, we think we know everything when actually, we know nothing, because everything is always changing, and at an increasingly fast pace. Changing is always complicated. We need young people coming to Locarno with new ideas. This is how the “Industry Academy” came about. It can be seen as a “shortcut” for young people who already work in the industry (distribution, sales, marketing, VOD companies or festivals) but who aren’t students or producers. The participants spend five days with their coach Marion Klotz, who organises a programme of masterclasses run by leading figures from the film industry. Over five days the 10 participants exchange opinions and know-how, things it usually takes years of working to know. The “Industry Academy” has been so successful that we’ve exported the idea to Mexico, the Morelia festival, Thessaloniki and New York. 

Could you tell us more about the “Connect to Reality” project and the link with the Geneva International Film Festival Tous Ecrans and the Zurich Film Festival? 
“Connect To Reality” is the new addition to this year’s edition, a Swiss initiative for Switzerland. We realised the need to reflect on the situation of the film industry so we thought we’d set up a project based on the “Step In” model but for Switzerland. The keynote speech is open to everyone but only the 50 people chosen are invited to the table to discuss specific issues: the distribution of Swiss film in Switzerland and internationally, the constantly changing role of festivals and documentary film. Each table is managed by a moderator and a note taker, who then gets up on stage for a final wrap-up, during which they present the conclusions that the guests at each table have come to. “Connect to Reality” isn’t limited to Switzerland, it also involves twenty or so international guests. Seeing as there will be lots to discuss, we thought we’d put the project on the road, organising a second debate at the Zurich Film Festival, where the issues to be discussed will be more linked to the production and co-production of Swiss films, and at the Geneva International Film Festival Tous Ecrans, where we will mainly focus on creativity and new technologies. For the first time, three Swiss festivals are joining forces to create platforms for discussing specific issues. With “Connect to Reality” we want to understand what’s going on beyond our borders, because it’s useless to simply content ourselves with what we think we know. It’s so interesting to understand how buyers go about buying films, where and which markets, so that we can evolve and learn together. 

(Translated from Italian)

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