New Directors | New Films
Interview | Fernando Vasquez talks about FEST

A 14 years old festival, still in its teenage years. Getting here wasn’t easy, there were inevitably many ups and downs, and some years went by more smoothly than others. Fernando Vasquez, the director of programming, talked to us about how to make FEST happen.


What can you say about FEST in general and about this edition in particular?

This year we put a lot of effort in our programming, not only in our Film Program but also in Training Ground. In the past few years, we have witnessed in clear sight a tremendous growth of the festival and if our programming didn’t follow it, we’d run the risk of stagnating. In the film department, which I am responsible for, we have bet on more innovative films, more risk-taking films. Regarding feature films, for example, we have some of the most talked about films of the year, such as “I’m Not a Witch”, which won a BAFTA. However, we also tried to seek films that, while not exactly having been overlooked, just didn’t have enough exposition, like “Blue My Mind”, a film that, despite its success in a couple festivals, ended up not having much recognition, especially in Portugal. We always try to have that balance.


What’s new this year?

To me, the greatest new thing this year is our Be Kind Rewind section, dedicated to North Korean cinema. Funny enough, we’ve chosen to present this at a time when North Korean’s name is being talked about in the four ends of the world, and finally for the right reasons. What a lot of people don’t know is that the current North Korean regime has always had a huge connection to the film business, and its own cinema is of a very special kind. To be able to watch these films on the big screen, through this small retrospective, is a one in a lifetime experience. Another new thing is Lost in the Metaverse, a new section dedicated to the exploration of the possibilities of virtual reality and augmented reality. We’ve covered a lot of the ground work in this territory during the past year, but we still feel a bit lost, hence the name of the section.



What are the preparation stages of a film festival?

Looking through the festival’s programming, our first goal is to ensure that everything is ready for the films selection stage. Something that is always tough, since only this year we’ve received close to three thousand films, from short to feature. There are also a lot of films that we discover in other festivals and there are distributors that contact us personally. It’s a big universe and, as such, if we don’t have a firmly set structure it’s impossible to deal with all of this without making a ton of mistakes.


What’s the worst that could happen?

A tsunami.


What’s the best thing that could happen?

People leaving with something meaningful, something other than simply watching a film or attending a masterclass. What we want is for people to leave with substantial information and with something that stimulates them to pursue this even further. We want our Training Ground participants to leave not knowing which mannerisms and obsessions the Hollywood stars’ have, but rather knowing specific, useful stuff that they will be able to use afterwards in their own productions. And we want our Pitching Forum participants to leave, of course, with money in their pockets to invest in their works, but also with other types of contacts and information that allow they to move forward with their project.


And what’s the next step?

Celebrating our 15 years, which will make us prepare an even more special edition, at all levels. Regarding the association, the festival isn’t the only even we organize, our next step will be to create a film residence for young filmmakers.


Inerview by Filipa Fonseca | Translated by Inês Ceia

Arcticle from Leuk Jornal | Edição 2 | 20 - 21 JUN 2018