By Sydney Levine | Sydneys Buzz February 3, 2012 at 9:25AM
Finally a way to track festival winners that eliminates our need to track all festivals separately. Festival Scope, the online platform known for providing film professionals with online screening of films from more than 60 of the most prestigious international film festivals (including Berlinale, Rotterdam, Locarno, Venice, Cannes' Directors' Fortnight and Critics' Week, Toronto and San Sebastian) has developed a new section. The section is called "Labels" and is aimed at providing additional visibility to the films awarded in festivals or selected by partner organizations. The "Labels" has been launched with a special partnership with FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. On the FIPRESCI page Festival Scope presents a selection of films that have been awarded the FIPRESCI Award. About 30 titles are already available for screening, including recently awarded Salesman (ISA: EOne) (awarded in Torino), The Tiniest Place (Mar del Plata), Eighty Letters (Thessaloniki), Yatasto (Viennale). More will be added throughout the year. Klaus Eder, General Secretary of FIPRESCI says: "Our aim is not only to present, at festivals, the critics' prize to the films we like. We also wish to help them [get a larger audience]. Festival Scope offers a wonderful chance to make our engagement better known to the professionals of cinema and to provoke the interest of other festivals and of buyers.
One of my first reactions on reading thus far was that this seems more self serving on FIPRESCI's part than inclusive of winners in general. I realize that I have absorbed an industry criticism of FIPRESCI itself which deserves further investigation. My criticism is that, in creating a label of its own prizes on a general platform, it is furthering its own mission. FIPRESCI, a critics' organization, chooses one festival per country to put their labeled prize upon, and to the outsider their endorsement automatically carries a sort of prestige. However, I have heard from one top festival director that they then impose certain rules upon that festival and to this festival director, they represent a sort of mafia. As I said, this merits greater investigation, perhaps I or another reader will write a blog upon FIPRESCI itself.
As I read further, I realize that the Festival Scope "Labels" extends beyond FIPRESCI itself, and as such is a boon to people seeking certain types of films. One of the labels presents the Global Lens 2012, Global Film Initiative’s critically acclaimed independent world cinema exhibition and distribution platform. The line-up includes ten award-winning narrative feature films from around the world including Morteza Farshbaf's darkly comic road trip, Mourning (Iran, ISA: Wide) (FIPRESCI Prize and New Currents Award, Pusan IFF) , Paula Markovitch's The Prize (Mexico, ISA: Urban Media) (Silver Bear, Berlin IFF and Best Film, Morelia IFF) and Toll Booth, Tolga Karaçelik's acclaimed Turkish "everyman" story.
Santhosh Daniel from Global Film Initiative says “We’re honored that Global Lens is one of three inaugural “labels” on Festival Scope, as the distinction not only reflects a recognition of quality, but also a mutual respect for the impact our two organizations can create by working together.” I stand with Santhosh here. The Global Film Initiative is a great platform honoring seldom heard voices from countries upon which the camera rarely focuses.
Last but not least, Festival Scope dedicates a showcase to Binger Filmlab, the Amsterdam-based organization welcoming the best and brightest filmmakers providing them intensive series of labs, workshops and events. Selected filmmakers are presented to the international film community together with their previous work. Already highlighted the films by Darius Devas from Australia, Caroline Kamya from Uganda, Jonathan Ostos Yaber from Mexico and Kevin Meul from Belgium. The Binger is very dear to me, as Jeanne Wikler, a longtime American resident of The Netherlands and a documentary filmmaker herself, invited us for many years to be coaches. She created a warm and welcoming environment ("Gezellig") which to this day retains this atmosphere, even at their Cannes Reception Days where we are always warmly greeted by Greetje Schuring, Assistant to the Directors and by former Binger participant, now Artistic Director, Marten Rabarts and by the beautiful longtime film event organizer Daan Gielis Head of Talent & Communications. In raising startup funds for this event from the government she was aided by former parliament member Gamila Ylstra who is now CEO of Binger. Jeanne herself is now the Director of the Institute of The Netherlands in Paris. Gamila Ylstra states, “Festival Scope is the perfect partner for Binger Filmlab: a unique platform for film professionals that enables us to showcase previous work and contextualize the projects and filmmakers in our Writers and Directors Labs. We are honored to be part of this!” I find this use of Festival Scope especially appealing in light of current government moves to cut cultural events; Festival Scope helps prove that such organizations as Binger contribute to the world's well-being in the context of cultural freedom is very important. Alessandro Raja, founder of Festival Scope, says: "We are thrilled to widen the scope of our activities with the creation of the "Labels". It’s an additional way for us to contribute to the promotion of the films we like and that play a significant role in today’s and tomorrow’s cinema".
I think Festival Scope should go further in award posting; let FIPRESCI have its and let others have their own pages if they merit it. Certainly Binger and The Global Film Initiative merit pages of their own.