Nadia Dresti
Nadia Dresti

Nadia Dresti, Delegate of the Artistic Direction, Head of International at the Locarno International Film Festival talks to Susan Kouguell about Industry Days (August 10-12), Step In and Carte Blanche. 

Nadia Dresti: “The film festival’s role has to become more a place to help a film to be released afterwards, and Locarno is a perfect place to put these people together and mix.”

Dresti is passionate about her work, and about spotlighting independent filmmakers from countries who face challenges getting their work noticed and distributed. Nadia and I met at her office this week to discuss the Locarno International Film Festival’s various initiatives that will take place during Industry Days.

Dresti: “We received 1,300 submissions, and Carlo Chatrian and his team saw between 500-700 films around the world, so 2,000 films altogether.  Carlo selected 100 new films. What about the other films? Some go to smaller festivals, but more than 1,000 titles don’t go anywhere; they will not find a release. There is a gap with this small release possibility and the gap is getting bigger. I think the system is wrong.” 

The Industry Office

The Industry Office of the Locarno Film Festival was designed to support producers and agents presenting films at the festival by connecting them with international sales and distribution professionals, and exhibitors. Their goal is to play an active role in the support of auteur films; whether launching a new project or extending and optimizing existing services and initiatives, the Industry Office aims to support sales agents, distributors, producers and exhibitors in their respective tasks, ranging from the conception to the release of independent art-house cinema.  

Nadia Dresti: “Every activity is tailor made.  Most important are the films, and around the films – the producers, buyers, and so on – and the types of films that we believe in.” 

Industry Days

Launched in 2010, the Locarno Film Festival’s Industry Days offer international film industry professionals the opportunity to participate in a comprehensive series of initiatives designed for them. The goal -- to facilitate networking. By supporting the sales agents and producers who are presenting films at the Festival, they put them in contact with buyers, distributors and exhibitors. Industry Days also develops through specially organized and exclusive screenings, alongside works-in-progress sessions, discussions, round tables and events that take place under the umbrella of the Industry Home Base, encouraging every opportunity for exchange. These are combined with two further initiatives, Carte Blanche and Step In.

Carte Blanche

Nadia Dresti: “We have Carte Blanche, an initiative we started three years ago, showing films in postproduction by emerging talents from a different country in Asia, Africa, Latin America or Southeast Europe. This year Carte Blanche is dedicated to Chile.”

Carte Blanche will screen seven films in postproduction. Each film will be introduced by its producer and director to the various international sales agents, distributors and festival programmers in order to facilitate post-production and sales partnerships. Following each screening, there will be a Q&A session, during which the industry professionals will have the opportunity to connect with the producers. A three-person industry professional jury will select the best film that will receive a cash prize to support the completion of the film.

Nadia Dresti: “There is a lot of emerging talent. We saw 30 films in postproduction, we selected seven and we invited the seven producers to introduce their films, and Chile brings the directors. We have 20 people from Chile to introduce at Locarno. This is great visibility for them; they are honored as a country -- it’s a win-win. We bring filmmakers to producers. It also gives sales companies time to discover new films, to see the seven films, which helps the producers. In Piazza Grande we’re going to show Gloria directed by Sebastián Lelio, who was in competition in 2011 with El  El Año del Tigre.  Juan de Dios Larraín, producer of both titles, is on our official jury. CinemaChile is hosting the Industry Days opening party.

Step In

Now in its second year, Step In, an initiative designed as an exchange platform in which new promising strategies for distribution, exhibition and sales of auteur cinema are discussed and developed in small, closed working sessions.

Nadia Dresti: “Last year we had a think tank and decided to focus on eastern countries where theaters are closing down and art-house films are hardly released. We invited key players from different countries -- Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to come to Locarno and sit down with sales companies and other buyers.”

This think-tank initiative, focusing on issues of distribution for auteur European cinema in Central and Eastern Europe, is organized in collaboration with Europa International, Europa Distribution and Europa Cinemas. This year Step In will wrap up last year’s focus on the festivals of the region, giving voice to professionals of the area, including Tallinn’s Baltic Event, When East Meets West in Trieste, Kino Pavasaris in Vilnius, Sofia Meetings, Romanian Days in Cluj, CineLink in Sarajevo, Connecting Cottbus, New Horizons in Warsaw and the Art Film Festival in Bratislava. But we decided to open the think tank to additional European territories as well, to compare experiences.  International sales agents, distributors, exhibitors and funders will discuss key issues of distribution. We also invited US industry people like Eugene Hernandez from Lincoln Center and Ryan Werner from Radius-TW.

Nadia Dresti: “Step In day takes place on Sunday. First, in the morning, there will be a presentation about the Russian market; the state of distribution and exhibition of art-house films in the Russian market. Among the presenters will be an expert from uniFrance, a big exhibitor from Russia, and three distributors from Russia.”

The working session – the brainstorming part of the morning, gathers distributors, sales agents, members of Europa Distribution, Europa International and Europa Cinemas, some funders, festivals, and co-production markets.  After an introduction of the key issues, participants will break into groups to work on a specific challenge pertaining to the future of distribution of art-house films in Europe.

Nadia Dresti: “There will be five working tables that will include different buyers and sellers, discussions of anti-piracy, and so on – we want these people to sit down and talk.  This is going to last one-and-a-half hours, then the five different moderators will come out with a statement, present their results, and discuss suggestions about how we can work better together to get a particular film released.”

To learn more about Industry Days and the Locarno International Film Festival visit:  

About the author: Award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker, Susan Kouguell teaches screenwriting and film at Tufts University and presents international seminars.  Author of Savvy Characters Sell Screenplays! and The Savvy Screenwritershe is chairperson of Su-City Pictures East, LLC, a consulting company founded in 1990 where she works with writers, filmmakers, and executives worldwide.