Alessandra Pastore • Head of industry, Meeting Point – Vilnius
“I want to give emerging talents a chance to ask ‘stupid’ questions”
by Marta Bałaga
- Cineuropa talked to Alessandra Pastore about her new role as head of industry at Meeting Point – Vilnius
After coordinating MAIA Workshops, Italian-born Alessandra Pastore comes back to Meeting Point – Vilnius (2-4 April) as the new head of industry. Already an industry coordinator at When East Meets West, she explains to Cineuropa what to expect at the tenth edition of the event, organised as a part of the upcoming Vilnius Film Festival (21 March-4 April).
Cineuropa: Meeting Point – Vilnius is now in its tenth edition. What would you like to underline in particular this year?
Alessandra Pastore: Thanks to MAIA Workshops, I have had the opportunity to discover and come to appreciate the Lithuanian industry – I have been able to strengthen the relationship with the Lithuanian Film Centre and some emerging producers. I always felt that there was something there, that there is a clear strategy and a vision. My first interview with [general director of the festival] Algirdas Ramaska was a beautiful brainstorming session. We talked about the potential of the event because, thanks to its strong relations with ex-Soviet countries, many professionals see Meeting Point as the door to Europe, while other international markets use it as a platform to stay informed on under-represented industries. This year, for example, we have a partnership with Connecting Cottbus, with whom we will co-organise a panel, but also with Minsk International Film Festival “Listapad” in order to bring some emerging Belarusian professionals to our Talents Nest platform. I felt it was something that needed to be stressed – this need within the industry to be connected to the countries that are not so well connected and that very often struggle to find an appropriate platform. We want to help them find it.
With Talents Nest, you will also be stressing the importance of preparing emerging filmmakers – this initiative is designed to help them out throughout the whole event.
Every professional is eager to meet new talents, even the ones without any specific goals in terms of a project. I want to give them a chance to be taken by the hand in a safe environment – our “talents” will get a chance to participate in the panels and pitching sessions, and talk to the decision makers. All emerging people, when meeting festival programmers or sales agents, would sometimes like to ask: “What exactly is your job? When is the right moment to contact you, and what do you expect?” I want to give them this chance – a chance to ask all the “stupid” questions. Some of the applications we received made it clear that many people aren’t really sure what the Work in Progress session is all about. These kinds of mistakes are quite common when you are at the beginning of your career – all you need is for somebody to explain the difference to you. The idea is to nurture them and, with the help of such established professionals as, among others, Alessandro Gropplero and Katriel Schory, make them feel ready for the next edition of our event or even a bigger market.
Speaking of the Work in Progress session, were you looking for anything specific while deciding on the final 17 projects?
Our goal is to be as effective as we can, so the first question was always the same: what can we give them? For many debuting directors, it’s a starting point, which is why I also added a platform where you can find their previous short films. It’s just another way of taking care of the talents and giving the decision makers a chance to get to know them better and increase the chances of having effective individual meetings.
We don’t really have a “request” focus; we have a natural focus. Most of our projects are from Eastern Europe, although with most of them being co-productions, this year there will be approximately 20 different nationalities involved. Some of them have already passed through other co-production markets, but I wanted to make sure that we could deliver something new. We will also organise parallel sessions between Lithuanian and international producers to help them exchange contacts and opinions – which might not be the main point of the Work in Progress session, but it’s the main point of any successful industry event.
How will all of these different ideas be reflected in this year’s panels?
We will pay very specific attention to the region: the first will be dedicated to the arthouse distribution practices in the Baltics, and it will be co-organised with the Creative Europe MEDIA offices in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. With the artistic director of Connecting Cottbus, we will try to tackle the possibility of bridging the gap between festival and audience-orientated films, and we will continue paying specific attention to audience development thanks to the partnership with ICO – Independent Cinema Office. We will also organise two special master classes: with Cinemarket, we will try to gain a better understanding of the practical use of blockchain, and with Gruvi, we will provide professionals with a toolbox for marketing and audience engagement.
The idea behind all of this is to give the attendees ideas that they can apply later on, and they will hopefully continue down this path in the editions to come. What we will do this year is merely the start of a process because the most important thing is to build trust. We want all of the participants to understand that we are working for them.
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