Edita Bilaver Galinec • Project coordinator, Film for Kids at Hospital
“Ideally, the films we screen should convey a strong message, urging a call to action”
- The mission of this important European initiative is to give sick children in hospitals and rehabilitation centres access to high-quality films
We had the chance to chat with Edita Bilaver Galinec, project coordinator of Film for Kids at Hospital and president of Zagreb-based Kids Meet Art. The project’s mission is to give sick children in hospitals and rehabilitation centres access to high-quality films. The initiative is also being supported by the European Union’s Creative Europe – MEDIA programme. You can find out more about it here.
Cineuropa: When did you kick off the project?
Edita Bilaver Galinec: This is our third edition. The project is co-financed by MEDIA, and we started it in 2017. Initially, we partnered with two other organisations, Antwerp-based festival JEF and Malmö’s BUFF. They are both well-established children’s film events. They wanted to screen their films during the festival and, later, in the hospitals in order to grant children unable to attend their events access to these titles.
Kids Meet Art, however, is not a film festival. We’re an organisation that develops different programmes promoting film literacy. We’re the biggest player in this field in Croatia, and we provide programmes for kids aged from 3-15, thus covering nurseries, primary schools and secondary schools. From our perspective, including hospitalised children seemed an obvious step to take. Therefore, our organisations stream and screen these films, and invite guests to talk about them. Our speakers include actors, producers, filmmakers and field educators. Thanks to the MEDIA funding, we have managed to add three more partners – Italy’s Il Nuovo Fantarca, Spain’s Pack Màgic and Slovenia’s Kinodvor (winner of the Europa Cinemas Award for Best Programming in 2019) – and we now offer our services in six different languages on six national platforms, sharing a common catalogue of titles. Our future goal is to have a national platform for each European country, so that all of the hospitalised children can enjoy a high-quality selection of European titles. Currently, we’re running our initiative in over 200 hospitals.
How do kids watch these films? Do they attend common screenings, or do they watch them on their phones or tablets?
It depends; sometimes, they watch them together in a common space. The problem is that in hospitals, many children are totally isolated, so they have to watch them on laptops or tablets. Sometimes, we do provide these devices if hospitals don’t have them. Another challenge is getting a stable internet connection, even though this should be a basic service.
Do you ever send out physical copies – on DVD, for example – to overcome connection issues?
No, we can’t do that, because the agreements with the rights holders are very strict. Sometimes, however, we buy portable routers and have them delivered to the hospitals.
How do you source your films?
We created a list of joint selection criteria. This is something that we did during a workshop we had as a team. In detail, we look for high-quality pieces told from a child’s or a youngster’s perspective, and we strive for diversity in terms of themes, genres, the age and gender of its auteurs, and cultural background. Ideally, our films should convey a strong message, urging a call to action, and be in line with the children’s ability to catch and understand those messages. Besides, our partners propose titles that they’ve screened at their own festivals. We mostly focus on European films, but are not limited to these and offer both features and shorts. Our catalogue is not huge – in total, it includes over 70 titles – but we update our offering on a yearly basis.
Where do you stream these films? Do you have your own proprietary infrastructure, or do you rent an external platform?
That’s a very good question because it’s our main topic of discussion these days. We’re currently using Vimeo Pro, so we do not have our own platform, even though we’d love to have one. We’re looking for a partner that can provide us with a dedicated platform, even though many distributors still tolerate our use of Vimeo.
How many people are working on the project?
There are about ten of us working on the project, more or less actively.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Do you know what happened because of COVID-19? Most of the distributors and sales agents are selling films for online releases, so they have raised their prices. I had prepared our budget at the beginning of the outbreak, but we didn’t know exactly what was going on. Now we’ve got these higher prices because everyone – including the distributors – is experiencing some kind of economic crisis. I’m sorry to say that many are not sensitive to our type of social commitment any more. So they’re asking double the price to what it was two years ago. It’s definitely a consequence of the huge market shock caused by the pandemic. At the moment, things are pretty hectic. You need to be much more creative and invest much more energy in order to get the results that, prior to the pandemic, required way less effort. We’ll see where this ends up going.
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