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Sandra Seeling Lipski • Director, Evolution! Mallorca International Film Festival

"It’s really important to keep the level of quality very high"


- We chatted to Sandra Seeling Lipski, founder and director of the Evolution! Mallorca International Film Festival, the eighth edition of which will unspool on the beautiful island from 23-29 October

Sandra Seeling Lipski • Director, Evolution! Mallorca International Film Festival

At its eighth edition – set to take place on the Balearic island of Mallorca from 23-29 October – the Evolution! Mallorca International Film Festival (EMIFF) will showcase a total of 88 titles spanning shorts and features, as well as documentaries in both formats. In addition, over the course of the festival, various events, networking sessions and master classes will be organised, welcoming a total of 4,000 guests from more than 20 countries. We spoke to the gathering’s director and founder, Sandra Seeling Lipski, to get the lowdown on these and other aspects of the event.

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Cineuropa: How did you become involved with the island of Mallorca, professionally speaking?
Sandra Seeling Lipski:
I was born in Berlin and my parents are German, but when I was nine years old, we moved to Mallorca for work reasons. I lived here until I was 18, at which point I went to study in New York, and after that, I embarked on a career as an actress and producer in Los Angeles. When I started sending my short films to festivals all over the world, I realised that my family on Mallorca weren’t able to watch them, because there was no festival here on the island. I thought that had to change.

As the eighth edition of the festival looms, how would you weigh up the previous iterations, and how does this one differ from the past editions?
With the eighth edition, we already feel well established: we’re a benchmark festival not only in the Balearic Islands, but also on the international stage. Given that I’ve been living in Los Angeles for 15 years, I call upon my contacts and I do quite a lot of promotion for the festival over there. MovieMaker magazine, for example, publishes a list of the 50 festivals it’s worth signing up for, and they’ve included us two years running. That has happened because the people who have come to Mallorca have had a good experience, have talked about the festival and were able to make some good contacts here. Although we’re quite a young festival, for me it’s really important to keep the level of quality very high.

What is the event’s editorial policy? Indie film or mainstream fare?
In the fourth year of the festival, a radio programme described us as “the Sundance of the Mediterranean”: we screen independent and arthouse films, and international movies hailing from 17 countries, and we also have the Made in Baleares section, which includes titles produced on the islands. At the festival, there is therefore a blend of home-grown movies and international flicks, thus bringing together cultures and people. That’s our motto, which is reflected in the programming, in our guests and in all of the activities that take place at the gathering.

How do you go about building this bridge between people and cultures?
If you want to build a bridge between people and get them to exchange visions and ideas, it’s vital to strike up a conversation, a dialogue. When the common language is cinema, it makes no difference if you come from France, Germany or India, because in this place we’re all the same, and that’s a very beautiful thing.

Which sections is the festival divided into, and which prizes does it hand out?
Each section – shorts, features, documentaries and Made in Baleares – has its own award, and the projects are in competition with one another, apart from the student ones. This year, we have joined forces with a film studio here – MN Studios – and we have prizes worth €15,000, to be spent on filming there, with their equipment. It’s an initiative aimed at encouraging film shoots on Mallorca.

Is there anything in the programme you’d like to highlight particularly?
This year, we are focusing on integration – that of migrants as well as integration within the family: how one feels about oneself, or about one’s own family, when faced with a new reality. We have a documentary called Krow’s Transformation, about a girl who becomes a boy: it’s a new life and a new self; it’s very interesting. There’s also a film starring Lena Headey, The Flood, where she plays an immigration officer: it portrays what’s happening today. And, of course, I’d also like to point out the tribute to Asif Kapadia (Diego Maradona [+see also:
film review
interview: Asif Kapadia
film profile

Will there be meetings and pitching sessions at the EMIFF?
Networking is also important: we have the Producers Club, with a number of topics under discussion, such as co-production and female filmmakers in China and Mallorca. Women make up almost 50% of the programme: it’s the norm in the world out there, and that’s how it should be at every single festival.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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