2. Youth Film Festivals - European Context

The first film festival dedicated to screenings for children and young people was held in Zlin, Czech Republic, in 1961 which initially aimed to establish itself as a national festival of Czechoslovak films for children and has subsequently gone on to become one of the biggest youth film festivals in the world. Over the course of the last 55 years youth film festivals have become an established aspect of the film festival landscape allowing children and young people to watch, make, participate and learn about film in an informal environment with their peers. Indeed, film festivals have been integral to developing and delivering film literacy for young people. This is particularly true in countries such as Portugal and Hungary where there is no formal film education or film literacy programme. Festivals in these countries take on extra importance as they are the primary deliverers of film education to young people.

Desk research has revealed there are currently approximately 90 dedicated youth film festivals across Europe including the UK. (see appendix 1). This does not include every local or one-day event or those general film festivals that have a strand of programming for young people. These festivals will either present films for young people, films made by young people or a combination of both. They will usually combine this with workshops and masterclasses and the majority present awards for the best films in the festival programme.

The research revealed there are dedicated youth film festivals in 34 of the 51 countries in Europe. These are primarily in Western Europe with the highest concentration in the UK and Germany with 19 and 13 respectively.

There are some 60 dedicated youth film festivals across Europe that screen films for young audiences. Generally, these are international programmes of features, shorts, animations and documentaries chosen from submissions or, in the case of the medium to large festivals, sourced via festival screenings and markets. Many festivals also have ambitions to bring indigenous films to audiences.

The largest of the youth film festivals, Giffoni in Italy, attracts approximately 2000 young people from over 39 countries, has reported audiences of c100,000, and screens features, documentaries and shorts. Its model is now used in other countries such as Macedonia and Georgia and the festivals are a big part of year round activity under the banner The Giffoni Experience.

Cinekid - International Film, Television and New Media Festival for Children and Young People is one of the more industry focused children’s film festivals in Europe. It takes place in Amsterdam, Netherlands and presents 30 features, documentaries, TV programmes, shorts and animations for 4-16 year olds to an audience of between 40,000 – 50,000. Its importance largely revolves around its Children's Film Market which is part of the Cinekid Professionals conference that attracts rights holders of children’s films and buyers from all over the world.

BUSTER – Copenhagen International Film Festival for Children and Youth - is Denmark’s largest film festival focusing on 3-16 year olds. The festival screens more than 130 features, documentary and short films from around the world. Additionally, the festival includes workshops, events, debates, and various Q&A sessions with the filmmakers. The festival is arranged with support from the Danish Film Institute, the Municipality of Copenhagen, MEDIA – EU’s support program for the European audio-visual industry as well as other private and public contributors and foundations.

Although not a dedicated youth film festival, it is pertinent to highlight the Berlinale, one of the biggest film festivals in the world, which presents a section for children and young people, screening discoveries from world cinema to the public and industry, awarding Crystal Bears to the best films for under 14’s and over 14’s. These larger festivals, with their industry focus, are important for smaller festivals to engage with when seeking content.

As Programme Director we find films at festivals across Europe – We go to Berlin, Malmo festival once or twice, also been to TIFF kids – They’re all critical in terms of the time of year they happen.” Mike Tait, Discovery Film Festival, Dundee

Usually these larger festivals will be managed by dedicated teams of staff who work year round to develop the programme. They are established and well-funded by indigenous film institutes, Creative Europe, municipal and national partners and aim to offer children and young people an extensive programme of quality films in different genres from all over the world. The Kristiansand Festival in Norway for example has been in operation since 1998 and now programmes 85 feature films from 22 different countries reaching an audience of approximately 13000.

There are approximately 33 festivals across Europe that are solely dedicated to screening short films made by young people. Their aim, by and large, is to promote youth filmmaking, showcase new talent and provide opportunities for young people to collaborate. The majority of these festivals have an open submission process where young people from across the world can submit their film for consideration via a service such as film freeway. This allows the festivals to curate an international programme of shorts and allows young filmmakers to have a presence at different festivals around the world.

Generally, these festivals are smaller in size and are operated by very small teams of core staff and volunteers. Their funding is more ad-hoc, and usually involves annual applications to municipal and national funders.

The Four Rivers Festival in Croatia, for example, is run on a part time basis by two key members of staff who have alternative jobs the rest of the year round.

In Tromso, the larger Nordic Youth Film festival only has one full time member of staff, with the rest working on a temporary or voluntary basis.

Our staff this year had an average age of 17 years. They’re all voluntary. The Manager of the Organisation is paid and the Producer of the festival is paid for a 3-month salary.Hermann Greuel, Manager NUFF, Tromso

In both cases the festivals are required to develop partnerships with other non-youth film festivals to raise awareness of the work they do and the films they screen.

Our most important partner is the Tromso International Festival. It’s an important film festival for promotion and we put on a show of our films thereHermann Greuel, NUFF, Tromso

What these festivals do well however is network and build partnerships to develop young filmmaker and programme exchanges across Europe. In essence these festivals are about promoting and developing new talent and raising the profile of young filmmakers.

When you bring kids from all over the world to one place they come up with great ideas. It’s so much bigger than just watching a film in a theatre.Sanja Zanki, Four Rivers Festival, Croatia

This kind of collaboration can only happen with funding (from all countries involved) and multi-lateral agreements. There are a number of European wide organisations that aim to increase collaboration and opportunities for Young People in film and for Youth Film Festivals.

The Young European Film Forum (YEFF) is an international forum promoting involvement of young people in media. Young people from all over Europe meet biennially in a different European country to produce short films on the subject of cultural diversity. YEFF is also a growing network of organizations working in intercultural education, media literacy and anti-discrimination. The network currently consists of 12 organizations from 11 European countries including Zoom Cymru in Wales.

The Youth Cinema Network (YCN) is a network of youth film festivals, organizations and film/media teachers that promotes and improves filmmaking by young people. YCN’s vision is - through international collaboration - to bring young filmmakers and their stories to an international audience. The network’s ultimate goal is to enrich European film culture. There are currently two member festivals from the UK, one of which is Wicked:16 from Wales.

The European Children’s Film Association (ECFA) is an organisation for those who are interested in high quality films for children and young people: film makers, producers, promotors, distributors, exhibitors, TV-programmers, festival organizers and film educators. There are currently 100 members in 36 different countries.

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