LOCARNO, Switzerland – The Locarno Festival’s Industry Academy have a predominance of women participants at its 2018 edition. Eight out of a total of ten executive students are women. According to the program’s organization, this preeminence reflects submissions statistics. Around 80% of applicants were young women executives.

2018’s edition will be the fourth, after a pilot program kicked off in 2014 under Nadia Dresti, head of Locarno’s Industry Days.

Last year, the program expanded notably in reach with new events at the Beirut Cinema Platform co-production market organized by Beirut DC and Fondation Liban Cinema, the São Paulo’s Mostra, organized in partnership with Cinema do Brazil; and the Valdivia Festival’s Australab in Chile. These events added to those already existing in Mexico’s Morelia and Greece’s Thessaloniki festivals, as well as New York’s Lincoln Center New Directors/New Films Festival.

The Locarno Industry Academy runs Aug. 1-8 and will feature 11 sessions and several group work screenings.

These include Dominga Sotomayor’s “Too Late to Die Young” and Leonardo Guerra Seragnoli’s “Likemeback,” competing in Locarno’s main International Competition and Filmmakers of the Present sidebar respectively.

Bobby Allen, SVP of content at VOD operator Mubi, will be leading a session on digital platforms analyzing the upcoming opportunities and challenges of new digital distribution channels.

“We’ve invited Mubi again this year, because we think they are continuously testing new paths. If you work in distribution and specifically in digital, you should look in this direction,” Locarno Industry Academy international manager Marion Klotz told Variety.

Another session carries the title of Distribution/Exhibition & Audience Development. “It’s  maybe an overused terminology [“audience development”], but it’s the real challenge for everybody and everywhere,” added Klotz. Panelists include Rene Wolf, a programmer at the Eye Film Institute Netherlands, Mexico-based producer-distributor Sandra Gomez at Interior XIII; and exhibitor Jenny Billeter (Kino Xenix).

Development executive Franklin Leonard, founder and CEO of the Black List, Hollywood’s annual Black List of most liked un-produced screenplays, will be offering a session on why this idea started up and how he managed to rescue some seemingly-damned projects that otherwise would still be gathering dust in a drawer. “Juno”, “Spotlight” and “The Revenant” were some of the screenplays included in Leonard’s listings.

“We want obviously to keep discussing about the present and future of the industry as we know it. But we also would like to be open to new perspectives, give visibility to other way of approaching how to think about the Industry. And Leonard is an example of this in Hollywood itself,” Klotz said.

Other speakers, tutors at the Locarno Industry Academy, are Alphapanda’s marketing specialist Mathias Noschis, Still Moving producer-sales agent Pierre Menahem, and Susan Newman-Baudais, Eurimages project manager – first and second features.

Ten young executive participants at this year’s Locarno Industry Academy take in Christina Ayrapetyan, manager of International affairs at A-One Films, a Saint-Petersburg-based film distribution company; Neuza Bagorro, working in the acquisitions and production departments of Paris-based distributor-producer Epicentre Films; Claire Battistoni, festival manager at sales company Be For Films, based in Belgium, which has three films at Locarno this year; Michelle Birtwistle Nilsen, distribution manager at Selmer Media, a film distribution company based in Norway; and Melanie Courvoisier, a programming officer and administrator for four arthouse theaters in Swiss Romande, the western, French-speaking part of Switzerland.

Also included are: Elena Garran, working for Spain’s The Film Agency and looking after the newly launched Digital PR service; Debra Liang, sales manager at Denmark’s LevelK, one of Scandinavia’s key sales agents; Nicolas Rebeschini, festival and market manager at Paris’ sales agency Charades, which has scored with top festival films such as, at Cannes, “Diamantino”; Moritz Schneider, co- founder of Cut-Up a festival distribution service for short films; and Tanja Weibel, manager of the Cinetour project at Switzerland’ Solothurn Festival.

“They  are all young, with very diverse backgrounds. They’re promising future players in the industry and they are the real players at the Industry Academy,” Klotz concluded.