Interview with Festival Director Guido Franken (Euregion Film Festival)

Euregion Film Festival offers you a festival experience with the best films from all over the world, an award show, workshops, seminars and more. Every year, a multi-day festival program will be presented. This program contains selections of films from all over the world, workshops, seminars, meeting corners, an award show and more. If your film is selected, you are automatically in the running for several prizes during the festival.

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

Guido Franken: Euregion Film Festival is a fast growing film festival in which we connect filmmakers and public and try to mix those two audiences together by creating all kinds of networking settings. Our main point of focus is to connect new, mostly independent filmmakers and we help them to get to a higher level.

Therefore we organise a lot of opportunities regarding talent development, such as multidays film schools – in which filmmakers learn from experienced experts and train their skills and develop a concrete project -, conference days, masterclasses and competitions where filmmakers can pitch and win production budgets. It’s great to see how everyone merge together and connects, shares their knowledge and boost their skills.

What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?

Our next edition will be in 2018, with the 2017 edition just behind us in March
of this year. We introduced new types of events, which were very succesful and
will be continued next year. As a filmmaker, you can join one of our film schools (we call them film- or documentary campus), join CineMasters (masterclasses by experienced experts on specific topics) and come to networking events and parties. For the general audience, as well als for filmmakers off course, we organise CineTalks (table talks with experienced and young filmmakers about their vision, work and life), lots of side-events – such as a Virtual Reality Cinema and music parties – and above all we show a curated selection of short- and feature films, mostly with Q&A with the director.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

In general we accept all kinds of films, from short to feature, and from fiction to experimental, documentary or animation. We have a main focus on productions from our centre region in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, which is called the Muse-Rhine Euregion (that’s why the festival is called Euregion Film Festival). Our programmers really try to create a nice mix between genres, styles and topics. That’s why we are known for a very diverse, international and dynamic film program, in which it doesn’t matter how, where or what is made, as long as it has quality.

For up to date information visit:
https://filmfreeway.com/festival/EuregionShorts

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

With the growth of easy accessible submission platforms, it is inevitable that
fake festivals appears. So the only reason why films wouldn’t get a fair shake is that there are people who try to earn easy money by creating a website, open a call, collect money and never really organise a festival. That’s why platforms such as FilmFreeway are becoming more strict the last one, two years. And that
is good and hopefully will help to close down the fake festivals.

In general, I don’t believe that some films would not get a fair shake. Every
organizer I know is doing his or her job with the best intention and honesty,
watching every film that is submitted and just want to create the best festival
that is possible.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

We love to showcase the biggest film talents, discover new (upcoming) diamants and connect filmmakers with eachother and with the audience. A festival is a great place to create in a specific period of time and on a specific location a ‘pressure cooker’ where all kinds of magical things happen: you see talented people grow, you see different types of audience (young, old, from all kinds of backgrouns) getting touched by films created by passionate people … it is a once in a life time experience which, when performed in a good way, can change peoples lives.

How has your Film Freeway submission process been?

From all submissions platforms available, it is the one that is the most easy to use. As well for filmmakers as for festivals. The number of submissions grew
with 150% in the second year, and we just opened the call for the third edition
of Euregion Film Festival and we are very excited to again receive a lot of good
films.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

As mentioned earlier, we are located in a unique crossborder region in the Netherlands – Belgium – Germany. Till now the festival took place in our
hometown (Heerlen in the Netherlands), but as we speak we are trying to make it a bigger event and cooperate more closely with partners across the borders.

We already attract an international audience, but I hope in 2020 the merge of
filmmakers and general audiences from all these countries (and other ones of course) has grown even more. We live in a truly unique area, which for filmmakers is a very good place to co-produce: within only 30 minutes driving
they can combine funds and incentives from three countries, eight regions and
local initiatives. There are lots of opportunities that we should make use of
more often!

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

Contrary my fellow Dutch citizens, I dó have feeling with our national cinema –
most Dutch people don’t like Dutch films at all –, and especially the work of Paul Verhoeven (now known for Elle, but also director of Basic Instinct and RoboCop for instance). His Soldaat van Oranje (Soldier of Orange) from 1977 is my all-time favorite. I think I watched it over 30 times, and it still gets better every time I see it. And that’s wat good films do: every time you see them, you discover genius (new) details or whatsoever that proves the quality of the film.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film captures or creates life in which the viewer loses himself.

How is the film scene in your city?

It is quite booming. Since five years I run a non-profit organisation which is called CineSud. We form the community of filmmakers in the province of Limburg in the Netherlands and are a fast growing and reliable platform, organising networking event, workshops, festivals and much more. We help filmmakers to develop their own skills and projects and assist them with there productions. Next to Euregion Film Festival we annually organise SHIFT Film Festival, which focuses on innovation in film in every possible way.

Besides that, in the last five years we were able to create a great infrastructure for film, with an own regional film funds (Limburg Film Fund), a Limburg Film Commissioner and lots of initiatives for talents, professionals and audience. Now we are on the edge of taking a next big step or falling down again: it is really an important period for the future of film in this region. That’s why with Euregion Film Festival we are working now very hard to make it even more ‘crossborder’ in this region, so that we can enlarge the support for
film in this crossborder region and give it even deeper, better and more steady roots. It would be a shame if all efforts that we took last years – with great results and lots of films shot in this region – would slowly vanish again.

euregion film festival2.jpg

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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