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Developing Your Film Festival 2013 by ICO, held at Motovun Film Festival, Croatia

by Peter Belsito
August 6, 2013 1:30 PM
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Motovun town where the conference took place

This three year old conference took place in the mountains of Croatia July 23-28, 2013 in the tiny town of Motovun in the days before the very spirited film and music Motovun Fest gets underway in this ancient cliff village.

The purpose of the gathering was to share experiences in workshops discussing the managing, founding, funding, marketing, growing of festivals with a wide variety of mandates (features, docs, shorts, animation) and European environments.  Topics of focus included internal management issues such as sponsorship, grants, social media, crowd funding etc.

Organized by London’s Independent Cinema Office who works year round to support film festivals and independent cinemas in the U.K. and internationally.

Walking up the hill to Motovun meeting areas

22 participants attended from 13 countries in Europe representing a wide range of film festivals – both in size, years in operation and mandate.

Leaders and speakers at the event included ICO staffers Kate Taylor, Becky Clarke and Sarah Bourne.

Igor Mirković, Festival Director, Motovun Film Festival spoke and his festival is a partner in producing the event.

I spoke on the role of festivals in relation to the film industry.

Also speaking were Mikael Fellenius, CEO, Göteborg International Film Festival, Wilhelm Faber, Programme Coordination Berlinale Special, Berlin International Film Festival , Heili Joe, Industry Events Manager, Black Nights Film Festival, Allison Gardner, Co-director, Glasgow Film Festival, Muffin Hix, Film Programmer and Event Producer, Lost Picture Show, James Mullighan, Creative Director, Cork Film Festival and this ICO meeting’s Course Leader.  Needless to say these sessions were lively, well informed and I was impressed by the level of engagement and audience feedback.

Conference attendees James Mullighan, Cork Film Festival and ICO Course Leader and Amanda Boka from Riga

Festival attendees came from Bradford Animation Film Festival, DocPoint Helsinki Documentary Film Festival, Riga International Short Film Festival 2ANNAS, Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival Czech Republic, Norkoping Film Festival Flimmer Sweden, London Turkish Film Festival, Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, Brussels Film Festival, Cologne International Women’s Film Festival, Bath Film Festival, CinEast Film Festival Luxembourg.

All told it was a great experience, especially meeting and exchanging ideas with festival professionals from all over Europe.

You can read more about ICO’s work on their website at

Here is what they have to say about their work - 

The Independent Cinema Office (ICO) is the national support organization for independent exhibitors of all kinds including cinemas, film festivals and film societies. 

We act as programming advisors, distributors, consultants, development agents, and providers of training and other services.  We have spent almost a decade developing successful models in this sector, building capacity to bring a wider range of films to a wider range of audiences.

In the last 9 years 87% of the exhibition sector has engaged with at least one of the ICO’s services.  We have delivered partnership projects with some of the biggest arts centres in Europe, for example the London Children’s Film Festival at the Barbican, as well as some of the smallest festivals and film societies in the UK.

Group shot during session on lawn

Complementing our wide ranging connections with the exhibition sector, we also have excellent working relationships with all UK distributors (including a sub-licensing archive deal with Studio Canal), a range of international sales agents and a number of independent producers.  We have worked in partnership with organizations such as the FDA, First Light, BAFTA, Europa Cinemas, the Guardian Culture network, Cineworld, Frieze, and the Tate.  We have extensive regular contacts in both the film and art press and all our distribution projects have received extensive national press coverage.  Our training programmes include speakers from organizations as diverse as the Royal Opera House, Radio 4’s Front Row, the Berlinale and Warner Brothers.  Our relationships have thrived through our reputation for delivering high quality, successful projects.

The ICO is a unique organization in specialized cinema – our business model is based on an integrated approach whereby our work with distributors allows us to secure previews for screening days; our consultancy work enables us to gain insight into different business models which we can then share in our one to one surgeries; our training programmes draw on our relationship with the commercial industry and our distribution projects benefit from our relationship with cinemas, film festivals and film societies.

Our distribution projects have achieved growth of 300% over 8 years for specialized film in the UK, success achieved through experimentation and experience – understanding what tools are required at the beginning of projects to make them succeed.

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