From the perspective of the beginning of July I must say that I pretty quickly adjusted to organizing the festival in the summer. The 13th edition came to an end 3 weeks ago, which was just the second summer edition, and I can’t get enough of the overall results and the fact that the whole summer is still ahead of me! This time I decided to gather my thoughts regarding the course of the June festival in the form of answers to the question: Why should you like the Short Waves Festival?
1. Despite the pandemic, the festival took place in 2021 and did it with a bang.
Usually our festival initiated the cultural calendar of Poznan in March, this time – prudently we chose June. And we still remained the first big cultural event that could take place thanks to the lift or restrictions. 73 events, presentations of over 250 films, almost 100 in-person guests from Poland and Europe, an audience exceeding 5 thousand participants – we did it! It wouldn’t be possible without our great effort, but we have again shown that we can organize the festival despite the tough conditions. The heat wave that rolled over the city didn’t scare off our viewers who were watching films in air-conditioned cinemas and during outdoor screenings. The film industry, yearning for festival trips, also didn’t disappoint despite inconveniences related to travelling and a flood of different events: we welcomed jury members, filmmakers of selected films and industry guests – old and new friends of the festival.
2. It’s not afraid of challenges of online reality.
Beside numerous local activities, for the second time we opened to the world. 120 of festival films were also available on specially prepared platform during festival dates. We’ve also held two online industry panels devoted to gender solidarity in the film industry and the future of funding film festival networks under MEDIA Ė Creative Europe program. Not to mention that June week was only a segment of an extensive strategy for online visibility which we implemented thanks to the launch of This Is Short platform, that I described here. The online world allows us to strengthen the Short Waves image as an innovative festival, investing in international cooperation with the most interesting short film festivals. Despite the weariness of online culture, our offer reached a few thousand viewers from over 50 countries!
3. Because it makes Poznan a more open city.
This year we beat the record of the number of festival locations Ė we were in 20 locations in Poznan, flooding the city with short films. Our program was presented in 3 major art house cinemas, Grand Hall of ZAMEK Culture Centre, 4 selected urban gardens, near Warta river and in Collegium Da Vinci patio, PrzystaŮ Sztuki or closed swimming pool. The festival creates a real platform for exchange of thoughts, a meeting place of audience and guests from all over Europe. Presented films show different perspectives, raising awareness for the world around us, giving voice to the minorities and fighting with stereotypes. We have a really great audience and viewers in almost every age, who refer to our offer with interest, as well as critically.
4. Because the program is substantive and also exciting.
More than 80 films in the Competition program. Spotlight section focusing on interesting phenomenons and people in the film world. Four perspectives on solidarity. Focus dedicated to cinematography of Austria or screenings of post-pandemic Mirror Mirror program? Our viewers had to make tough choices, because at the same time we screened e.g. films nominated for prestigious film awards and such crowd-pullers like Kinky Shorts (first sold-out screening!), Comedy Shorts, Electro Shorts focusing on electronic music in Tama club or Horror Shorts taking place in aforementioned closed swimming pool. Need more sensations? The audiovisual event Kino Forma opened the festival, the award ceremony featured a concert of Rosalie., and on the last day we chilled in a meadow in Laba.Land as part of Sunbient. No time for boredom!
5. Because it initiates dialogue, educates and it’s a meeting place.
This year’s hybrid industry and educational program was on the one hand complementing the focus program Mirror Mirror, and on the other hand – concentrating on exchange and networking with guests present at the festival. Invited experts educated participants in such areas as body image on the internet, fight with hate speech or privacy protection of a smartphone user. The workshops also included collective programming of films and ethical organization of audiovisual events. But there was also room for industry meetings with a glass of wine – because this is what we’ve missed the most.
6. Because festival identification is fresh and draws attention.
Even the biggest skeptics had to admit that our new visual identification looked really cool and was well received during the festival. The design of Uniforma Studio turned out to be universal, easily adaptable for such diverse project as Short Waves Festival and it stood out in urban fabric. From the festival intro to the setting of the award ceremony and Instagram feed Ė it looked classy, expressively, cool. I tip my hat to the studio and our promotion department, who have collectively developed a visual communication strategy. And white bag Ė ideal for summer!
7. Because it’s created by a team of young film enthusiasts.
An important element of overall assessment of any project (not only cultural) should be its quality and working conditions. This year the Short Waves Festival team was really integrated and everyone supported each other before, during and after the festival. We worked a lot, but still enjoyed ourselves. We avoided bigger technical problems, the weather was also cooperative, the screenings were populated which translated into a really pleasant working environment. The team consisting of more than a dozen people was complemented by 30 volunteers, who were perceptive, enthusiastic and really helpful. It was my seventh edition of Short Waves Festival and I think – the favorite one, mainly because of the team. I want to thank each and every one for this amazing adventure!