My second experience volunteering for a film festival was at the Alliance Française French Film Festival. I had heard about this festival even before I moved to Melbourne as my sister had been to it multiple times and we share a passion for French contemporary cinema.
Applying to volunteer for them was very simple as I only needed to send an e-mail to the contact on their website. I soon got an answer from one of the organizers who asked me to fill a form with my personal detail and availability. I actually did the entire process while I was still in Brazil, a month before the festival started. Not long after, I received my shifts.
Unlike most festivals who will have a selection process for volunteers, they tried to create a roster that would allow every person to work at least once. Because this festival is organized in partnership with Palace Cinemas and it’s only exhibited in their theaters, they only needed the volunteers for promotion and special events. Everything else would be done by the Palace staff. That meant that the volunteers didn’t get many shifts.
Luckily, I had the opportunity to volunteer in two very different moments. Firstly, at the promotion of the festival the week before it started and secondly at the opening night event. For the promotion, I went along with another volunteer and two of the organizers (Alliance Française staff members) went to Parliament Station during rush hour to hand out flyers and programs. At the opening night, which was a big function at the Astor with food and drinks being served before and after the screening, there were many volunteers and we were split into different teams. My team was responsible for the food, so we had to heat up and organize the appetizers on platters and on the tables, welcome the guests and give any sort of information that might be asked, whether about the food or the festival itself.
This festival is currently the biggest French film festival outside France, so I had high expectations for the opening night. However, the organizers of the event who were in direct contact with the volunteers were not in the film industry or in hospitality but were Alliance Française staff members. Unfortunately, they didn’t have much experience with functions and that created a bit of stress for the volunteers who, most of the time, were feeling very confused and lost. Nonetheless, my previous experience on organizing functions helped me and my team to get all the tasks done and create the best experience possible for the guests.
Ultimately, this was a great opportunity as I got to meet a lot of interesting people who were also volunteer – although I wish I got to meet more people in the film industry. I also got a new set of skills by approaching people at train station and trying to get their attention. What’s more, I got double passes to watch films from the festival and a certificate of appreciation for participating as a volunteer.