Experiencing the Stockholm Film Festival: Volunteering and watching

Experiencing the Stockholm Film Festival: Volunteering and watching
The Stockholm International Film Festival, which ended this weekend, was an important event not only for filmmakers from around the world but also for international students here. NFGL member Diana Imamgaiazova shares her impressions and speaks with a student who volunteered at the festival.

"Window to the world"

This year the Stockholm Film Festival was celebrating its 25th anniversary –  which makes the event relatively young compared to the other major European film competitions. However, the festival's youth can be seen as a great advantage of the Stockholm festival. The event is dedicated not only to praise of the masters, but also to opening the door for young independent directors from all across the globe.

The last international film festival I visited was in Venice, where the festival competition featured 20 films, including 12 from European countries and four from the United States. Thus, there were only four films representing the "rest of the world" in the main programme, along with a half-dozen screenings in the additional categories.

In contrast, the Stockholm festival presented a more varied program focusing not mainly on Scandinavian films (as I expected it would be), but also highlighting creative works from other regions. There were entire sections for movies coming from Asia and Latin America ('Asian Images' and 'Latin visions') as well as films created in Somali (Fishing Without Nets) and Morocco/Qatar (The Narrow Frame of Midnight).

For my personal programme I chose movies only from Sweden, USA, Russia and South Korea, but I have an overall impression that the festival was a truly cosmopolitan event. The director of the festival, Git Scheynius, called it 'the window to the world' because the event encourages us to learn more about the other cultures. Stockholm Film Festival promotes international and non-commercial movies which otherwise can hardly be spotted among the flow of Hollywood's blockbusters.

"Behind the scenes"

IQko Muhammad has just come to Sweden from Indonesia for master studies at Stockholm University, and decided to try his hand at organization of the Stockholm film festival. I asked how it worked for him.

Diana: How did you learn about the volunteer's programme at the festival and get involved?

IQko: I just spotted the announcement in Kulturhuset in October. I had some experience in event management before, and I thought that I could really develop my skills by volunteering at this big international event in Stockholm.

I sent an email to the volunteers coordinator and was invited for an interview. I had some doubts about the required language skills, but it turned out that Swedish language was not necessary for all the departments there. Of course, you have to be able to speak Swedish if you want to get into the event department, for instance. But there are other positions open for international participants as well. Taking into account my university schedule and my interests and skills, I decided that the public department would be the best option for me.

Diana: What were your responsibilities during the festival? Was it hard to combine them with studies?

IQko:In the public department your main job is to meet the audience at the film venues, explain what the movies are about, answer the organizational questions in order to create a positive and smooth experience for the guest of the festival.

Talking about the schedule, I just could not apply for a position which would require a full-time workload. The coordinator helped me to find the best occupation in order to avoid clashes with my studies. Mainly I was working at the evening screenings and on the weekends. Of course, it's already not so easy to manage, sometimes I could not get enough sleep during the weekdays… But I enjoyed the experience a lot and I want to take more responsibilities at next year’s festival.

Diana: What opportunities does the festival provide for the volunteers?

The volunteers get some benefits including free entrance to the film screenings, and invitations to Gala Opening and the other parties during the festival.

However, the most valuable advantage for me was the practical experience of the event management. Within our department we had small group meetings and training events helping us to learn about our job, but it was just the beginning.

Participating in the event organization section, you cooperate with the others and can understand almost the whole managerial structure. I've learned about the other departments and their responsibilities, how they maintain the services at the different locations…

This film festival is a very complex organism since there are many events happening parallel at the different venues with hundreds of people involved. And I need to say that everything worked very smoothly thanks to the professional management. For instance, I've learned that the venues for all the events are arranged in advance of two years. It was definitely a great team to join!

"And the winner is…"

The winners of the Stockholm International Film Festival were announced on Friday evening at the award show in Södra Teatern. The prize for the best film was awarded to 'Gilrhood' by Céline Sciamma (France). 'A Girl At My Door' by July Jung (South Korea) was recognized as the best first film at the festival.

The event also proved to be important and inspirational for the international students in Stockholm, who were invited not only to witness it, but to become the part of the story.


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