2020 has been a complicated year for the film industry, a great challenge for young filmmakers that have tried starting (or finishing) movies in different formats. Many shootings have been cancelled or postponed, affected by the mobility and safety limitations. Besides, the uncertainty about the screenings in theatres has left many projects in the middle of nowhere, confusion is all around.
These problems are transferred to the work of our team at the time of selecting works of our 36 Cinema Jove edition, which will be held from the 18th to the 26th of June. The situation brings up some questions regarding the way the new authors are managing their inspiration through this COVID-19 crisis: Are they producing less? Are they talking only about the pandemic?
In order to put in common ideas we have gathered the coordinators of our different Official Sections: María Albiñana from Webseries, Carla Ayala from Short Films, Teresa Aguilar of the Young Audiovisual Encounter, Gerardo León from Feature Films and our director and programmer Carlos Madrid, trying to enlighten the matter.
Is the crisis affecting the production level?
It’s interesting to realize that the creator’s response to the pandemic’s blocking hasn’t been the same in every sector. The feature film is one of the most affected formats: “There are less films arriving, which complicates the task of creating a program that requires exclusive premieres. Still, the quality hasn’t fallen at all” says Gerardo León. Carlos Madrid exposes the same point: “if we talk about feature films, in 2020 it hadn’t been a significant drop, but we are experiencing one now, and we will probably next year.”
Talking about short films, this format resists: “at this time of the year, and in spite of delaying the announcement, the quantity of films submitted is similar than in other years, and the quality remains the same.” says Carla Ayala. Carlos Madrid agrees: “short film creators have found their own way of carrying out their work in a closer and more reduced way”.
Apart from the obvious consequences of this crisis, there are cases in which the limitations generate opportunities. Web Series, or short series as María Albiñana explains, have lived it this way: “Short series have always been fighters and chamaleonics. These qualities have helped them to adapt best during these strange times, especially in comparison with other formats. That doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been an effect, but in my opinion series creators can transform their weakness into virtues. Besides, the pandemic has altered the way we consume series. During the time we have been at home, we have received hundreds of WhatsApp videos, even reaching the point of getting fed up with Zoom videos or online classes. All of this has made the view of short series to increase substantially.”
Regarding the Young Audiovisual Encounter, the submission of proposals has run two kinds of luck, according to Teresa Aguilar. “Considering the current situation of sanitary alert, it is likely that in the youngest categories we will find a significant drop in participation. The Young Audiovisual Encounter has always promoted audiovisual education for youngsters and children through teachers. This is getting difficult in this context, where everything that means touching or being in close contact is strictly limited. Shooting a short film without these possibilities, and especially talking about children, is truly complex. However, in the semiprofessional category we can assure that, at this point, we have a significant rise in participation, in comparison with other editions. Without a doubt, is the age what makes the difference.”
What does cinema say about the pandemic?
This global crisis has paralyzed and disrupted our whole way of life. How is cinema reacting to it? ¿Is remarking the times or offering evasion? Gerardo León tells us about the case in feature films: “Regarding movies itself, the pandemic hasn’t had, curiously, a direct effect in the stories we have watched this year. I’m speculating, but logic can give us a clue on the reasons: on the one hand, movies take a long time to prepare, several years, and even coexisting with the virus for a while now it’s hard for the films to show that reality in an immediate way. On the other hand, most of us are living this situation as a temporary one. Consequently, it seems logic that directors wouldn’t want to highlight in their work things that maybe tomorrow we will have forgotten. I think that most directors are wondering: How will my film be considered in the future, when everybody have been vaccinated and the virus becomes another one of them all?”
Carlos Madrid agrees and extends the reflection to short films: “We haven’t received yet any feature film that talks about it even tangentially. Regarding short films, we do find some, a few, but the pandemic issue is addressed from a documentary point of view. In general it seems like people don’t want to step into the subject, as if the tedium and the expectancy of a close end made filmmakers want to talk about anything but it.”
Also in the field of web series continues the tendency. Maria Albiñana says: “ it’s true that many creators have accepted the pandemic as one of their favorite subjects, but overall I think that there have been more cases in which different stories are told: love stories, identity stories, artificial intelligence, etc. All this has offered a different point of view to the stories, which I think is even more interesting.”
Until now, the conclusion seems clear: the pandemic won’t be the recurring subject in the short term. However, Teresa Aguilar is offering a different approach, the one lived in the educational centers: “In this field, teachers and students have the necessity of channelizing the situation through images. The feeling of constant alarm, the need of being alert on a daily basis, has to be channelized anyhow. Maybe when all of this goes away, we will be able to analyze deeply the huge work that teachers are making with such an innocent and vulnerable public which are the children. Right now, in this initial phase, we have received several short films addressing the pandemic issue. This year and the next, I’m sure we will receive much more.”
There’s a subject where there has been no debate, which is quality of the work submitted for our next edition: “we are watching and selecting works of stunning quality, and personally I can’t wait for the audience to see our Official Selections in June.” says Carlos Madrid, to which Gerardo León extends: “This proofs us clearly that creativity hasn’t been affected by pandemic, and that cinema is a living art that keeps boiling worldwide despite the obstacles that this situation has imposed on us.” We hope to see the results of this selection next 18th to 26th of June, when our 36th Edition is held. In the words of Carla Ayala, “the spool of cinema doesn’t stop.”
PHOTO BY ADA DÍEZ