Published November 2, 2021
Last month, I was invited to take part in the 7th Conference Fascinations at the 25th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival. The event organizers designed a series of closed conversations in which to review filmmaker strategies for securing distribution, showing in film festivals, and exhibiting in galleries.
I participated in a dialogue that assessed best artist practices for rolling out work at film festivals, with a goal of proposing a list of recommendations. It was an honor to cooperate with colleagues from other organizations that have done so much to protect, nurture, and advance the art form of moving image.
In our group, Images Festival (Canada) director Samuel La France skillfully moderated while participating in the conversation, and Edith van der Heijde, from Eye Filmmuseum (the Netherlands), augmented from a distributor’s point of view. Hungarian experimental filmmaker Peter Lichter’s perspective as an artist was invaluable, and Canadian maker Mike Hoolboom dropped in for an appearance.
The next day, I presented our recommendations in a live online session, moderated by Andrea Slováková, that was also streamed to the theater: Understand your goals in participating in film festivals; Identify and develop relationships with appropriate festivals; Assess your resources; Adopt a uniform strategy to how you submit to different festivals; Be professional; Advocate for the value of your art and labor and request fees.
Elaborating on these points, I reported further considerations and resources put forth by our group. All three of the panels arrived independently at the opinion that artists must be paid for their work. Artists must understand the value of their output, and the public must recognize that artists' work is not a free commodity. To achieve these goals, we suggest that the Canadian Independent Media Arts Alliance fee schedule be adopted by exhibiting institutions as a standard.
Ann Arbor Film Festival is proud to lend our weight to this important issue, and we encourage our film festival colleagues to join us in prioritizing the payment of artists.