Interview with Festival Director Umberto Santacroce (The Gulf of Naples Film Festival)

The aim of the Festival is to promote and circulate cinema and cutting-edge films, foster discussion between various branches of learning, and provide a space for the cinematic arts and other disciplines to engage with each other and grow.

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Interview with Umberto Santacroce:

Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Umberto Santacroce: GoN IFF is a new festival, the result of the encounter of three filmmakers with different experiences in cinema, television and theatre. The difficulties we have experienced in distributing our works led us to create a new opportunity for all lo-to-no budget producers; thanks to this opportunity, all those who make low cost yet valuable films, like we do, have the chance to promote their artwork and exchange ideas and expertise.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?

US: This is the second edition of the GoN IFF. Thanks to the serious approach shown in the first edition, our Festival is getting more and more popular and prestigious day by day. There has been an increase in the number of films submitted and of media interested in our Festival. Accordingly, the better the quality of the Festival, the greater the attention given by media to the participants who will enjoy the opportunity to show their works to increasingly wider audiences. And, last but not least, films will be awarded based on their quality.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

US: Although we have decided to select indie films which are not promoted and distributed through the main channels, our Festival is actually open to everyone, but definitely, the films that benefit from a strong budget will not be evaluated from a technical point of view, but only for their concepts and scripts.

MT: Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

US: I believe that in the main festivals the awards usually go to the filmmakers who simply had the chance to spend more money on their production, so, they could hire popular actors, as well as skillful technicians and professionals. Moreover, for the support of their high investments, producers and distributors launch massive – at times even deceptive – campaigns, overrating the films and attracting huge audiences. While low budget films usually do not get the success they deserve.

MT: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

US: The fact that different people from different countries with different cultures, sharing the love for this form of art, may gather and become a source of mutual inspiration, getting beyond all borders and potential prejudices.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?

US: Now it is too early to talk about a proper change; anyway, since the first year, many more participants have joined our festival and public institutions have started giving us some attention. We are now considering implementing new sections, in order to enhance the cultural value of the festival.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

US: In Naples, of course. With key partners in the national and international institutions. People need quality and we want to continue what we started last year, growing year after year, promoting new awards and turning our festival into the true celebration of top quality films, involving a bigger audience. We also hope to extend the festival’s calendar from 3 days, which is the period set now, to 10 or 15 days. We are well aware that this is very challenging, but there are good conditions and encouraging signs for improvement!

MT: What film have you seen the most times in your life?

US: Well, it happened many times. Every film expresses emotions and fortunately, every film is very different. I love many genres but I am particularly keen on those which are milestones in the story of this art, I mean, the films produced in the 50’s and the 60’s both in Italy and in the U.S.A. Each film represents a step forward in the growth of this sector. For example, just compare “Clash of the Titans” – the 1981 epic film by Desmond Davis, featuring an all-star cast, with well done animated scenes – with its 2010 remake. Even if I prefer the original film, its remake represents the natural evolution of filmmaking with special effects and animations which are light years ahead of the first production. And I could go on indefinitely…

MT: In one sentence, what makes a great film?

US: The depiction of universal values, such as justice, equality, solidarity, and the ability to communicate emotions.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

US: There was a time when Naples was a sort of capital city of the film industry. The famous Galleria Umberto arcade and its lively cafés were the meeting area of people from different backgrounds and the birthplace of hundreds of new production companies. This happened in the years between the 19th and 20th century, a time of intense film production, and implementation of new techniques and art styles.

However, after Cinecittà was built, Rome attracted the whole world of film industry.

Nowadays, the new digital techniques have greatly reduced the costs of film making allowing everyone to easily record a video. The young generations are definitely showing a growing involvement in this art. Cinema schools and training courses are now becoming increasingly popular, and I believe that there are some talented artists among the emergent filmmakers, who will be successful in the next future. However, the national institutions still do not acknowledge and support cinema with adequate fundings.


Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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