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Festival organizers rewrite their A-B-C’s

FIAPF shifts competish rules, sets up piracy fight

Throw away the old film festival rule book.

The Paris-based Intl. Federation of Film Producers Assn. (FIAPF) which regulates film festivals worldwide is prepping a revolution in the rules that govern festivals’ existence, introduced under new topper Andres Vicente Gomez.

New regs, to be presented at Fiapf’s annual general meeting today, could well affect how festivals are classed, a highly sensitive issue for some.

It looks certain to affect which films can compete at them.

The aim is to allow Fiapf regs, which date back to the early 1970s, to consider developments in the festival circuit since then, such as the rise of events like Sundance, Rotterdam and Toronto.

Fiapf will create a festivals committee, made up of industry members and festival reps, to oversee fulfillment and fine-tuning of the new regs.

Fiapf is also launching a major push, aided by festivals themselves, to prevent piracy of pics at fests.

Both moves have been introduced by the new Fiapf management led by Gomez, voted Fiapf prexy at Cannes last year.

Since the 1970s, Fiapf has operated an accreditation system deciding which events qualify for so-called “A-list” status — industry slang for Fiapf’s list of general competitive festivals such as Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Karlovy Vary, San Sebastian and Locarno, Tokyo, Mar de Plata and Cairo.

Per old Fiapf regs, general competitive festivals could not program any film in competition that had competed for any prize at any international festival in the world — whether accredited by Fiapf or not.

This reg now looks very likely to be scrapped.

Editorial control

Fiapf’s new proposals, which have been presented to fest heads, would give festivals editorial control over the films they show.

At the same time, however, Fiapf’s mulling a fest category tentatively called competitive international premiere festivals. Fiapf will certainly produce an annual profile of festivals publishing data such as, forseeably, their number of world, international or international festival premieres, and press, producer and sales agent attendance, Fiapf director general Bertrand Moullier said.

At the same time, Fiapf has established an explicit new priority: print copy security at festivals. Fiapf has drafted an article in the new regs that contains a laundry list of precautions it would like fests to take such as signage outside screening rooms, announcements before screenings, and storage and movement of prints, Moullier added.

It would encourage fests to come back with their own suggestions for security. This could involve guards using night goggles at Toronto, said Moullier, citing one example.

“The aim is to strip down regulations, making them simpler,” Moullier said.

The moot question is this: Once Fiapf begins to publish data of festivals, it could be just a further short step to begin to use them for a new classification of festivals.

This could benefit some, but create challenges for others if they have not been screening a high number of world or international preems in the past.

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