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INDUSTRY Greece / Southeast Europe

The Thessaloniki Film Festival conducts research into children’s films


- The “Films for Kids in Southeast Europe” study aims to shed light on the production of films for younger audiences, but the initial findings seem discouraging

The Thessaloniki Film Festival conducts research into children’s films
The Bulgarian movie The Curie Case by Andrey Hadjivasilev (2018), one example of a recent children's film from Southeast Europe

The Thessaloniki International Film Festival has decided to carry out a large-scale study in order to explore children’s cinema in Southeast Europe. Focusing on key issues such as the number of films produced, how many of them reach local cinemas and which directors are actually involved in children’s cinema, the “Films for Kids in Southeast Europe: The State of Play” study focuses on data and information from 12 countries.

The evidence gathered by producer and consultant Eleni Chandrinou, from Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia, revealed some interesting results. Output is quite low, as out of the 1,088 films produced in the region from 2012-2017, only 17 were family movies targeted at a younger audience. However, the bright side is that this is something that is likely to change and be improved upon.

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Also, on the funding side, it is only Greece and Slovenia that have schemes targeted at these productions specifically, with the Greek Film Centre dedicating 20% of its annual budget to such films. However, this money has been claimed only once since it was made available. The study also reveals a stark contrast with the countries of Northern Europe, including Germany, the Netherlands and the Nordics, where children’s films are fully supported, and this is also reflected in the number of productions made.

On the findings, Chandrinou stated: “The study started from the impression that not that many children’s films are being produced in Southeast Europe. So we wanted to see if that was true or not, and why. Unfortunately, what we found, based on numbers, turned out to be far worse than our original impression. This is a crucial problem, regardless of which point of view you look at it from, since the movies that children watch can affect both their perception of the world and their taste. Then, children’s films are usually successful commercially, so what is the reason for them not being produced locally?”

One of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival’s main goals is to educate children in the field of cinema through special educational programmes and a screening programme called Kids Love Cinema, among other initiatives. Elise Jalladeau, the festival’s general director, underlined: “Our experience in the field of the film industry, coupled with our profound interest in younger audiences, led us to investigate the scarcity of children’s films being produced in Southeast Europe. The study is the first of its kind, at least to our knowledge. It started in the summer of 2018, in an effort to understand the landscape of film production for children and young audiences (of between six and 12 years old) in Southeast Europe.”

In order to gather evidence for the study, the festival approached national film centres and the national offices of the Creative Europe – MEDIA programme. Data were provided by the European Audiovisual Observatory or were taken from the annual edition of CineLink. You can read the study in full here.

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