Software creators cater to festival logistics

DataKal helps ease workloads, prevent human errors

MUNICH — Organizing a film festival takes military precision, a fact that Pavel Kalenda, who developed his computing skills in the Czech army, understands. His DataKal software, designed to take care of all the logistical needs during a fest, also gets it.

Since the launch of DataKal in 2001 at Norway’s Bergen Film Fest, Kalenda and his business partner, Tomas Prasek, have convinced the organizers of 21 fests — including Berlin, Tribeca and now Dubai — that their program can considerably ease their workload, the flow of information and prevent human errors.

“Apart from providing a database, the program is a comprehensive tool for all the different departments. It supports the hospitality staff in sending out invitations, keeps track of RSVPs and organizes travel, accommodation and accreditation. At the same time, it tracks the selection and programming process, and streamlines the production of the catalog,” explains Prasek, a former fest organizer who met Kalenda while running the hospitality department of the Karlovy Vary fest.

It takes about a week to train fest staffers to use DataKal effectively, and once the system is in place, support continues. “We’re not just suppliers of a program, we usually become part of the festival staff,” Prasek explains, adding: “Because we’re constantly refining the program through the feedback we receive, the program is becoming more and more universal and internationally transferable. Festival organizers probably don’t want to hear this, but around 85% of their work is the same.”