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Ismael Curbelo • Director, Lanzarote International Film Festival

"FICL has been instrumental in training local filmmakers"


- The director of the Canarian film festival talks about the essence of the event dedicated to short films, this year's edition and his plans for the future

Ismael Curbelo  • Director, Lanzarote International Film Festival

We talked to Ismael Curbelo, the director of Lanzarote International Film Festival, which recently finished its 24th edition (read news). Created in 1996 under the name of Spring Film Festival, the film festival has evolved over the years to become one of the key events in Spain dedicated to short films.

Cineuropa: How has the Lanzarote Film Festival evolved from its beginnings to today?
Ismael Curbelo:
FICL, a pioneering film festival in the Canary Islands with 24 years of history, has grown from its beginnings as a small festival to become an international pre-selection event for the Goya and Fugaz Awards. Its impact can be seen in the training and promotion of local filmmakers, the support of film culture and the connection between the local and international film community. The festival has raised the cultural profile of Lanzarote and the Canary Islands, as well as the visibility of independent cinema globally. It has also expanded its programme with parallel activities such as workshops and meetings with professionals, enriching the experience for both filmmakers and viewers.

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What do you consider to have had the greatest impact on the local and international film community?
FICL has been instrumental in training local filmmakers, offering workshops and masterclasses that improve skills and raise the quality of the works. It has also created interest in film in the community, providing access to films that would otherwise be inaccessible. For international filmmakers, the film festival has been a key platform for showcasing their work, enabling national and international distribution opportunities and promoting collaborations between filmmakers from different countries. In short, film festivals like this one are vital for publicly screening short films and promote the connection between filmmakers and audiences.

What specific criteria were used to select the participating short films?
The FICL committee especially valued works with innovative narratives and creative approaches, looking for unique perspectives that challenged the conventions of cinema. Priority was given to short films that provoke reflection and debate on important social issues, promoting social awareness and a critical spirit. In addition to technical and artistic excellence, the selected works should address key issues in an innovative way, contributing to the cultural and social discourse. This approach ensures that the short films are not only of high quality, but also agents of change in society.

What were some of the most recurring themes in this year's entries?
The most common themes among the works selected by the film festival's committee revolved around major social issues. Short films that explored critical and current issues, such as social justice, gender equality, cultural diversity, gender-based violence, climate crisis, couple dynamics and gender identity diversity, had a significant impact on the evaluation committee. These works offered not only entertainment, but also a profound reflection on society and its contemporary challenges, which made them stand out.

What are your plans and expectations for future editions of the film festival?
FICL's future plans focus on continuing to promote education in values through film, as well as highlighting its social function as an inclusive cultural event. It aims to strengthen the power of film to raise awareness, reveal beauty and promote community connection. This commitment reinforces the importance of the film festival as a platform for disseminating values and enriching culture.

How do you plan to continue to encourage emerging talent and innovation in short films?
In 2023, the Association of the Short Film Industry, the Platform of New Filmmakers and the Spanish Short Film Coordinator joined forces in the #elcortoescine campaign to improve the financing and promotion of short films. FICL supported this initiative, pledging to promote the recognition of short films in the industry, to promote emerging talent and to serve as an exhibition and distribution platform for filmmakers. The festival aims to connect films with audiences and critics, strengthening the reputation of filmmakers and enabling professional growth.

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(Translated from Spanish by Vicky York)

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