Parallel to the 2 day Reality Check conference three working groups developed suggestions to improve Audience Diversity, Content Availability and Content Diversity within the international arthouse sector.
A fourth group was tasked with the challenge of improving the Pan-African Distribution & Audience Engagement. Here is a list of strategies that IFFR together with other stakeholders from the film industry will develop into an action plan and start implementing those within the reach of the festival.
The four working groups consisted of the following peopleRead more
The working groups were organized in collaboration with the Propellor FilmTech Hub.
Involve future audiences by allowing a panel of international jurors, representing a diverse cross-section across all layers of society, to review projects in development and to give feedback to filmmakers. This early feedback could help filmmakers create more relatable content for the audience. This same strategy could be applied when designing marketing and outreach campaigns for films or festivals. By involving the target audience and understanding their preferences, these campaigns could become more relatable and more efficient. And why not start at IFFR with a CineMart Audience Award?
Several cinemas which are not in direct competition should pool their financial resources and share the cost of freelance marketing and community management. Freelance workers can serve the entire group of partner cinemas and make social media outreach professional, engaging and more cost-efficient for everybody. To reach under-represented audiences, social media marketing can also be undertaken in different languages, to engage communities who otherwise are not addressed directly.
To increase the awareness, visibility and presence of African film and filmmakers in the international festival and distribution circuit, a regular newsletter should be published to inform international industry professionals about events, festival presence, info on films at all levels of production, awards, co-production opportunities, reviews and deals etc, all within a pan-African film context. The newsletter could use an existing network of industry professionals to pool, update and disseminate information about African films to help international curators, programmers and distributors make informed decisions.
Define diversity standards for the assembly of panels, juries and selection committees of film festivals and industry organisations to guarantee gender and ethnic diversity. A Diversity Code can help organisations such as IFFR to make sure that high levels of diversity are reached across all levels within the organisation and throughout its activities, and that a diversity of voices and perspectives are heard and seen.
Lower access barriers for young audiences to arthouse film by lowering the price. The model could be freemium (where the first few visits every month are for free, with charges for subsequent visits) or a scholarship that students need to earn. This program should be subsidized for participating cinemas and can be limited to certain hours a day or certain days a week. Such models have helped past generations of audiences develop their love for film (within independent film especially) but is of even greater relevance now as younger audiences are diminishing.
Annual training program with an online portal and a peer-to-peer network for pan-African filmmakers to strengthen their business skills and help them navigate the international market and build sustainable careers. Improving the production and distribution skills of filmmakers would enable films to be produced outside of the NGO and issue-driven financing context. By involving those filmmakers who understand the African continent and its audiences, this program would increase the exposure of quality African films and facilitate their integration into the international festival and distribution circuit.
Cinemas should be turned into multi-functional spaces to accommodate the diverse cultural needs of audiences. They could adopt different uses and include debates, music, performances etc within the context of their film program. This would attract modern, culturally diverse audiences and offer a strong sense of ‚added value' over the stay-at-home viewing experience.
Create a film education program consisting of filmmaking workshops in primary schools, high schools and community centers. These workshops would be given by film students and film professionals and would assume similar status to art or music education. They should address children across all ranges of society and increase the value and understanding of audiovisual storytelling and arthouse film. The workshops would include free access to participating VOD platforms (i.e. IFFR Unleashed)
Photo in header: Marit van den Elshout and Wendy Mitchell Photo: Melanie Lemahieu