3 Things That Prove You’re a Hardcore Cinephile Even If You Think You’re Not

“…if the use of a new item of technology is INITIALLY optional, it does not necessarily REMAIN optional, because the new technology tends to change society in such a way that it becomes difficult or impossible for an individual to function without using that technology”

Theodore Kaczynski


The effects of the digital revolution on film festivals generate mixed feelings. Let’s wear the lenses of a fanatic cinephile to get a hint of what’s going on:

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You Consider “Netflix” a Dirty Word

Films are meant to be shot….well, in film, right? And they are supposed to be made for the old big screen, correct? The fact that most films are nowadays being digitally shot and screened using digital projectors is already nerve-wracking enough for your cinephile self.

Don’t mention Netflix, which is just too much to take… More so, when you inevitably find yourself watching features on your mobile with headphones firmly plugged in. Oh, the guilt!

Creepy Thats My Fetish GIF by NETFLIX .                   Giphy.com

You know video streaming has taken over as the prime film distribution channel, making the cinematic experience banal and empowering companies like Netflix that use    Orwellian algorithms and deeply disturbing methods to gather and process massive amounts of information about people.

You fear Netflix is going to kill Cinema. And rightly so, it seems only a matter of time films start looking less cinematic (even more!) and notably youtube-ish and Netflix starts releasing these at the same time as they are released in theatres!

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But just as television did not kill radio, film festivals and cinemas probably aren’t going to die out any time soon. They will keep transforming, adapting and also complementing with the digitalisation phenomenon, offering unique experiences that spectators can’t get from their phones and laptops.

It’s already happening, cinematic experiences are being enhanced by appealing to the magic of the analog. In an attempt to get the viewers out of their homes and away from their digital devices, filmmakers, cinemas and festivals are celebrating experiences on the grandiose 70mm format or the nostalgic 16 mm, ultimately catering to a niche, the cinephiles, not to the mass.

Film Festivals are your Cinema Paradiso

To resist the dictatorship of Netflix, and its silent algorithm-driven censorship, cinephiles find in the Films festivals’ tastemaking an oasis in the desert.

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Arguably, cinema is the most “social” of the art forms, and its expression on festivals is heightened, going beyond the usual empathic act of sharing the cinematic experience of screening with others, it fosters discussion, generates identification, stirs the debate and create community ties.

Cinemas are a sanctuary and festivals are heaven. You can actually turn everything off and let yourself go. To be able to focus on something for nearly two hours is really something these days.

Undoubtedly, film screening is a history of technology, it just feels that new developments in the area are comfort and economy driven.

The Entire Concept of “online” Film Festivals Sounds Just Ludicrous to You

Because festivals indicate the existence of a tangible site where people gather to enjoy the ultimate cinematic experience. While “online” implies the nonexistence of such a place.  A film festival is, in essence, a collection of rituals and they are getting downsized, downplayed or directly suppressed on this purely digitalised version .

Human interaction is vital to the festival’s ritualistic spirit. Without it, creating a public, developing a certain taste or stimulating discussion and networking gets more challenging (De Valck, 21).

Taking everything outside the cinema is a highly contradictory action for a film festival to do. Internet can complement the events that occur in the “offline” experience, but ultimately it is a debate of principles. Technology is increasingly becoming THE mediator to reality to the point is scary. Cinephiles value the classic(s), so keep festivals as human as possible and continue to program “difficult” films. Love and protect your niche.

Fred Armisen Snl GIF by Saturday Night Live                       Giphy.com


Jorge Chaves

ID 26663325



De Valck, Marijke. ‘Screening’ the Future of Film Festivals: A Long Tale of Convergence and Digitization. Film International 6.4 (2008): 15–23. Print.


How to program a SHORT short film festival in 5 steps

Over the past couple of months, you may have been exposed to some earbashing about RUBIK’s City short film festival…

And since we want you to be knowledgeable about its programming method before you attend RUBIK, let’s break it down.

Shall we start with the basics?


  1. We decided to focus on Monash’s student-produced short films
  2. We identified a common thread (theme) among all the pieces: Urban Melbourne.
  3. We selected 10 short films based on social and political diversity, aesthetic value, innovation, significance and technical quality.
  4. For curatorial purposes, and regarding programming as the soul of the festival, it appeared obvious and boring to group the films based on single categories such as “documentary” or “experimental”…
  5. And taking advantage that the screening time wouldn’t exceed the two-hour mark, allowing the potential spectator to sit through the whole projection time of the festival, we engaged in the design of a storytelling approach, complemented with relevant Q&A sessions and performances, thus suppressing the use of categories.

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In essence, we created different conversation threads by putting some films together to either complement or contrast ideas, or simply to change the conversation and allow the spectator to breathe and to try a different flavor. All about creating a provocative and meaningful rhythm.

It’s not that we invented the wheel though. Film festivals came a long way to develop this sort of programming and curatorial approaches, and these five steps are only the tip of the iceberg.

We were heavily inspired by the “educational film work” model, crafted by the Friends of the German Kinemathek (Freunde der Deutsche Kinemathek, or FDK) in Berlin during the 1970’s.

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Let’s expand on it:

“Educational film work” advocates for storytelling over implementing explicit categories or genres in festival’s programming because they are a creation of the mainstream film industry that banalise and degrade the spectator’s experience (Schulte, 4).


It also considers short film programs as ideal for making the process that forms the basis of curating visible: “As curator, I can create a rhythm, try to direct the eye, guide the gaze, create antagonisms, ruptures, and contradictions; I can make and/or focus arguments; and I can even become a storyteller. Nothing is as boring as putting similar films together- be it a formal sameness, e.g., flicker films, or a sameness of content. It is vital, however, to mark each single work as such. It must remain clear that I am both an editor and a choreographer, that what I do is bring together different voices that the viewers understand. I only offer possible readings and connections, which need not be shared” (Schulte, 4)

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Finally, the “educational film work” model complements this filmic choreography by providing interpretation in the form of text and words: generating complementary programs and written pieces that inform the spectator about the curatorial criteria and intended story telling as well as having special guests, such as theorists, directors, critics or actors, that through Q&A sessions or presentations are able to engage in discussions of the films and the connections they make with each other (Schulte, 7).


Now that you have become aware, once you have experienced RUBIK’s City short film festival, I would like you you to tell me in the comments below what type of storytelling you witnessed and what connections and threads you identified.

What pros and cons would you consider when choosing an approach like the “educational film work” over a traditional fixed categories model for programming?



Schulte, Stefanie. “Showing Different Films Differently: Cinema as a Result of Cinematic Thinking”. The Moving Image: The Journal of the Association of Moving Image Archivists, Vol. 4, No. 1 (2004): 1-16. Print.

Jorge Chaves

ID 26663325


How programming stages of film festivals materialised on my mind

I recently watched a documentary film about a film festival, within a film festival, whose Artistic Director had spoken to me in my Film festival study class, where we discussed how programing practices evolved through history…

Sounds like a brain basher? I do not intend to tease you…

In hope to bring together all these voices on my mind in the form of a blog post, I am sharing observations, based on De Valck’s three stages of film festivals, on the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF).

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The documentary “Spa”, by Miroslav Janek, is a celebration of KVIFF’s history, one of the oldest (1946) film festivals in the world… and still running.

Rooted in communist Czechoslovakia, the festival started highlighting soviet cinema and socialist values. Very “first stage”. Censorship was prevalent and the recognition and showcasing of cinema made in socialist republics prevailed over aesthetic considerations.

Although KVIFF was biased towards a certain political ideology, there are lots of nuances that contrast this simplistic idea of a merely “soviet propaganda film festival” as a definitive statement.


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The Fall of Berlin poster. The film won the Crystal Globe in the 5th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival


I was surprised to see that, still in a constrained scenario, there were already traces of a mindful programming work that considered an aesthetic criteria, celebrated innovation, and originality. It included films, soviet made or not, that escaped the ideological agenda, producing a unique and rich coexistence.

One could argue that while features from the first stage applied to KVIFF’s during its early days, there were aspects relatable to the second stage as well, living together. Apart from the programming aspects, logistics and administration were professional from the beginning, not in a commercial way but as a proof of power in a cold-war dichotomic context.


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Claudia Cardinale arriving to Karlovy Vary. Circa 1964


Hollywood and European stars would attend to Karlovy Vary and were given recognition, making it a very special and super exciting event. This also speaks to the first stage of festivals, where the glamour of the red carpet was a relevant feature. In the case of Karlovy Vary, it created a cultural clash, and a lot of amazing anecdotes, for a supposedly “socialist event” to engage in such a display, but I must say in its own style it was very interesting.

1968 arrived with its social turmoil and broke apart film festivals’ history. Deemed as a pivotal year for programming, a new stage commenced. Unlike other major European festivals, its effects did not strike KVIFF’s in an abrupt way. As the “Prague Spring” came to an end, changes in the core of the festival, and in its programing practices, were slow-paced.

Overtime, censorship started to loosen up and Czechoslovakia stopped being under communist rule in 1989. Currently KVIFF’s keeps attracting the masses and became institutionalised in a neoliberal sense. Its programming practices transformed. Nevertheless, it is a proud festival that constantly celebrates and revisions its past.


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The film “Spa” allowed me to anchor and contextualise concepts on my mind, putting faces, music, stories, and names to theory.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below. I am interested to hear about the stages in Chinese film festivals.

Do they apply at all?


Jorge Chaves

ID 26663365

An evening at the Czech and Slovak Film Festival of Australia (CaSFFA)

I hadn’t heard of CaSFFA at the time, but after Cerise Howard presented it to us last week I was immediately sold on it.

Cerise is the Artistic Director and Programmer of the festival. Her intriguing presence, witty speech and sheer generosity taught me a lot on what it takes to put together such an event.

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Predictably, as Cerise’s talk served only as a teaser, I booked a ticket and went to pay a visit to CaSFFA.

I was given the unique opportunity to contrast expectations vs. reality. I have to say that Cerise underplayed her role in the organisation of the festival and what I experienced, allowed me not only to confirm some of the great insights she shared, but to discover lots of essential aspects required to organise film festival that were new to me.

These were my main takeaways:


 Have a tight, clear and strong concept

When I was about to enter the cinema, I was given a bottle of Czech “spring” mineral water from Karlovy Vary. The film I watched was about the Karlovy Vary Film Festival and Czech history including the events of the “Prague Spring”… any hints* on what the chosen theme of the festival is for this present edition?

Overall, the value of the programming is heavily placed on the relevance of the selected films to the theme. CaSFFA stays on topic and its selection of films playfully converse with the concept on its various nuances and representations.

Extra detail: there were tablets displayed on the information stand that provided interpretation through interactive apps that helped to contextualise the “Prague Spring” and its significance for Czech history, for the festival itself and for cinema.

This should tell you how well-crafted the festival is, where even the slightest detail revolves around a strong concept, bringing together sponsors, films and interpretation.


*Hay fever is striking Melbourne on these s_ _ _ _g days!



Be flexible to keep partnerships alive

I was offered a freebie at the box office: I got invited to stay for a second film on the same night… great! I was up for binging on some Czech/Slovak cinema, sure… except that the piece was titled “Budapest Noir”. A Hungarian made film in a Czech and Slovak fest?

I kept wondering what the selection criteria for this film was. More so, after I watched it and did not spot any apparent link to the “spring” concept either.


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Well, last year’s theme, “neighbours”, generated ties with the Hungarian Consulate in Melbourne. Hence, CaSFFA managed to elegantly fit four Hungarian films into this current version of the festival.

It is healthier to maintain long-lasting partnerships that to look each year to create new ones. Even if this creates a situation where you must trade off and bend your concept a bit, I felt CaSFFA did a coherent job bridging a previous theme with a new one.

Partners provide funding, sponsorships, films and volunteers. They are crucial for the growth and survival of the event.


CaSFFA is not over yet! I truly urge you to come and discover Czech and Slovak cinema. This festival turns out to be a celebration space full of wit and generosity, like Cerise Howard.

If you already attended, share in the comments below what your key takeaways were!


Jorge Chaves

ID 26663325