New Directors | New Films
FEST Industry Program — Day 4 Highlights

Friday’s industry program selection brought an eclectic mix of talks to sunny Espinho.

After a day focused on performers’ rights and prospects, followed by a journey of talks on virtual production, FEST span out into other, equally essential, areas of interest to all industry professionals, further solidifying the broad scope of its didactic catalog. 

Leo Hugh-Jones offered valuable insight into entertainment law in her masterclass - the first of the day - encouraging all attendees to clarify any doubts they might have regarding the issues of life rights, privacy, and truth when it comes to subjects depicted in films and media in general. The law is a tricky, complex business, and this session provided the audience with the chance to get first-hand advice from an established and experienced entertainment lawyer. Hugh-Jones gave a detailed presentation of the ins-and-outs, risks, and consequences of using a person’s life as source material for a film and television production and gladly opened the floor, throughout, to questions, worries, and clarifications.

The afternoon led us into an exploration of the current state of affairs in the cinema world. Streaming, the big engine for controversy in Covid-time debates, was under the spotlight in Martin Dale’s talk, particularly how this new media landscape will and is affecting independent filmmaking. Dale offered a thorough statistical analysis of the modern clash between commercial success and critical acclaim, that has seen celebrated, awarded films tank at the box office, where big-budget blockbusters rule. 

Independent films, the speaker emphasised, are very much reliant and empowered by the festival circuit, to which FEST has been contributing since 2004. Regardless, the trend is an undeniable move towards online streaming platforms, with box office numbers becoming less relevant than numbers of subscribers. The good news is that streamers like Netflix have become more and more interested in local production hubs that have originated major cultural hits like La Casa de Papel and the freshly-released Squid Game, extending the visual media conversation at an international level, like never before. Turning towards genre films is, according to Dale, an equally worthwhile pathway for independent producers interested in commercial success. 

FEST also tackled one of the most vital questions in any field, that of mental health, bringing it closer to the specific reality of film. Through videoconference, joining FEST participants from the UK, British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM) members Claire Cordeaux, Anushka Tanna and Phoebe Butler shed a light on this highly sensitive, but extremely important, subject. Performing artists are particularly likely to suffer from mental and physical health problems, due to the emotional strain artistic production can cause, but also because of extraordinary conditions like financial uncertainty, lack of sleep, and control over their own schedule. Cordeaux, BAPAM CEO, explained the different risks associated with the sector and gave valuable information on how performers can keep healthy, and how the industry can and should help. Tanna, a clinical lead at BAPAM, went deeper into mental health, touching on different signs and symptoms, subjects such as perfectionism and method acting, and how stigma can make it difficult to identify that something is wrong.


Article written by Francisca Tinoco.