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The Independent film industry faces a credit crunch

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After it’s 7th year running, the European Independent Film festival run by Scott Hillier regroups and recognizes inspiring individuals and projects. However, despite the energy and effort that filmmakers, producers and actors make to create these projects, there is a lack of investment.

Scott Hillier, the director of the festival comically opened up the opening ceremony at last month’s festival with the defiant words: “I would like to thank our financial sponsors… but we don´t have any”.

Independent films offer an alternative to Hollywood which many fear is losing its creativity. Oscar Vega, member of the ECU jury told me: “The hegemony of American cinema will not last much longer as it no longer takes any risks and people are now looking for films that are not slaves to making profits”. He highlights the pessimistic situation regarding film grants in Spain. “There are grants that were supposed to be processed two years ago yet they still have not been paid”.

‘Berlinoises’ director Rocco Labbé is another member to add to the profound criticism of the financial support network. In actual fact, with the aim of producing his first short film he decided to approach the most recognized people in the industry – after writing brief emails he was well received and actually produced his dream film which later won the biggest prize at the 2012 ECU festival: “Best European Short Film”.

On the other hand, Wim Geudens, director from “Beats of Love” a short film about catching sounds in bottles, said: “I had no problem with funding… the film didn´t cost me anything.”

Other film festival managers were present at the ECU festival including Stanislava Kotzeva, the manager of the “Early Bird” Student Film Festival in Bulgaria. Kotzeva also criticized the scarce availability of government aid available. Despite this her festival is bigger every year and in 2011 it presented a total of 150 films from 9 countries.

An exhibition of ideas and projects

Film viewers this year have seen productions created by both experienced and non experienced creators. The films are grounded dealing with themes such as loyalty, fear, love, death, religion and racism.

Álvaro Ramos, another member of the jury commented: “I like the fact that independent films always offer something new, something that you can´t see elsewhere”.

Despite his enthusiasm, he feared for the future of independent cinema saying that the commercial world was still too strong. Regarding the ECU selection, he admitted he was very excited about forming part of the jury whilst letting slip that one film he enjoyed in particular was the student psychodrama “Wacked”.

Manuel Sinor, a Canadian actor who was continually more attracted to the European film market, listed among his favourite films: Grounded (short non- European film), Berlinoises (short European film), The Game (animation film) and CMX – The Milky Way (music video).

Faced with such a crude economical situation in Europe, it is important that members of the public support film producers and directors to fill the gap that investors and government aids are not covering. Film festivals like the ECU are motivating for filmmakers so all that is needed now is plenty of audience attendance.

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