Julian Martin, Artistic Director Ascona Film Festival

Ascona FIlm Festival was founded four years ago, as a passionate project of four movie buff friends. after years of attending the magnificent Festival del FIlm Locarno, which takes place in the neighbouring city of Locarno, on a beautiful Summer night open air projection on the Piazza Grande, one of pus asked the others: “Why don’t we make our own little festival?”. The other three looked at each other and simply claimed: “Why not?”


Matthew Toffolo interviews Julian Martin, Artistic Director:

Matthew: What is the goal of your film festival?

Julian: Our goal has two sides:

1) offer our region a cultural event in a season where not much is happening.

2) offer a platform for artists to showcase their work and be able to meet other artists and eventually filmmakers to create further possibilities do develop more and more projects in an art that is quite complicated to live and survive with. As the festival grows, so does the interest from producers and distributors. The symbiotic potential for everybody attending will therefore further the possibilities for our filmmakers to connect, develop and eventually produce their all unique vision of life on our planet and in our universe. “If you build it, they will come!”

Matthew: How has the festival changed since its inception until your upcoming 2015 festival?

Julian: Our adventure began in the Summer of 2010, and through the hard and persevering work of our festival president, we grew quite quickly, as our festival was conceived exclusively through social media. In the first year we received 300 submissions, which were mostly intermediate school projects, computer graphics animations, music videos, etc., and we ended up selecting 80 shorts.m In the 4th year we received around 7000 submissions from over 100 countries, selecting 30 masterpieces of short fiction, one animation and one short documentary from 18 different countries including an Academy award nomination for the short film live action category this year and two last year.

Each year we also screen out of competion Feature films. In the first year we had one big Swiss production. The second a low budget Indian Film. Last year we screened three features, and this year we are showcasing two critically acclaimed feature length documentaries.

We are followed by over 90’000 people around the globe through various social media platforms.

Matthew: How many films are you showcasing at your Film Festival?

Julian: We have 30 short films selected for our international competition and 2 feature length documentaries out of competition. We also have a new special category of NGO shorts competing for a special prize on Friday evening, and we will also screen two surprise shorts on our final day.

Matthew: Can you give us a sneak peak of what to except for the 2015 Festival?

Julian: Good films, an interested open-minded audience, good food and great wine in a magical venue on the mystic Monte Verità. If you come, you will thank us later.

Matthew: Is there going to be an overall theme for the 2015 festival?

Julian: There is no common denominator between the films we are showcasing, although we are planning something very special and unique beginning from next year, our 5th anniversary.

Matthew: Where do you see your festival in 5 years?

Julian: Our hope and goal is to be part of the international short film circuit, a festival all filmmakers want to send their masterpieces to. We are trying to position ourselves in a unique niche to offer filmmakers more possibilities on the market. We are also working towards having a feature length category in the near future, and offering roundtables and workshops with industry professionals from around the globe. I would really like to have a special retrospective program, but don’t want to reveal too much ahead of its inception.

Matthew: What’s the current status of the Film Scene in your city?

Julian: To consider Ascona a city would be like considering a Trabant to be a race car. But our region has an amazing historical background and has been a cultural cradle for local and international artists until not all to long ago. We also have many valuable and highly successful cultural events in Ascona and Locarno, like the FIlm Festival Locarno, the Jazz Ascona, the Street artist Festival in Ascona and many more. The region has just approved and is constructing the Palazzo del Cinema, a cinema fortress in the centre of Locarno, solidifying their event by also creating a venue for a Master in Film Program which will massively enhance the status and the value of film in our entire region.

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

Julian: There had to be a trick question. Well, to be honest I am a film buff/freak, and have devoured film ever since I can remember. My favourite film… if there is such, would have to be both Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown” and Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”. As I am borderline obsessive/compulsive, it is hard to answer which film I’ve seen the most, but remembering my youth, where all this passion began, the answer would have to be Disney’s “The Jungle Book”.

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Matthew Toffolo, Interviewer BIO

Filmmaker of over 20 short films and TV episodes, Matthew Toffolo is the current CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival. He had worked for the organization since its inception in 2007 serving as the Short Film Festival’s moderator during the Audience Feedback sessions.

Go to http://www.wildsound.ca and submit your film, script, or story to the festival.

Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com and watch recent and past winning writing festival readings.