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There’s no such thing as an ‘A’ fest, accreditors say

FIAPF gives stamp of approval, not grades

Ever wonder who decides which festivals get an “A” ranking? So do the staffers at the Paris-based Intl. Federation of Film Producers Associations, the only global organization that officially rates film festivals.

“That ‘A’ rating never existed,” says Phyllis Mollet, FIAPF’s director of festivals and communication. “FIAPF doesn’t rate festivals as A, B, C or D.”

The confusion might have stemmed from the fact that FIAPF does assign the film festivals it recognizes to one of four categories: competitive, competitive specialized, noncompetitive, and documentary and short.

“I think someone started using ‘A’ to describe the first (competition) category, which includes festivals like Cannes, Berlin and Venice,” says Mollet.

One thing the 11 festivals in that first category have in common, says Mollet, is that they cannot accept a film for competition if it has been in competition at another fest. Whether or not that makes it a superior event is something Mollet declines to pass judgment on.

Festival scrutiny is just one of FIAPF’s many tasks. In a broad sense, the org represents the interests of film producers culturally, legally and economically around the world. It is an umbrella group for national producer associations from 24 nations and deals with issues surrounding subjects such as intellectual property, piracy and taxation.

“The objectives of FIAPF are to defend and promote the interests of the film producers,” says Mollet. “Through the act of recognition, FIAPF exerts a quality control on festivals and thus guarantees producers that their films will receive proper treatment.”

FIAPF’s Regulations for Intl. Film Festivals is a minimum code of rules and practices that all the festivals with FIAPF accreditation pledge to apply. Festivals must reapply annually for the FIAPF seal. Currently, the org blesses 56 festivals and Mollet says that number is not likely to grow much.

Throughout the year, Mollet travels to many of the festivals and checks whether film prints are handled correctly as well as things such as the quality and quantity of screening facilities, press coverage and attendance from the film industry.

“Producers are interested in festivals for promotional spin — whether a film gets exposure, shown to international press and a chance to get distributed,” says Mollet.

Then again, producers also care about the prestige level of a festival that screens their films. Now, if you hear a producer saying his or her film is playing at an “A” fest, you’ll know better.

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