Less than a week away from the 7th annual Evolution Mallorca International Festival, Close-up Culture’s James Prestridge chatted with the festival’s founder, Sandra Seeling Lipski, about this year’s line-up, building bridges through film and Danny DeVito stories.
Q: We are fast approaching the 2018 Evolution Mallorca International Film Festival. How proud are you of the progression and the continued success of the Festival?
A: The entire Festival team and I are very proud that we have made to the 7th edition. It was our dream to create and grow an international film community on the island, and with perseverance and hard work we made it happen, slowly, year after year. We are still far from what we want to achieve but we are on our way, and good things take time.
Q: The festival is very much about bringing cultures together through cinema. How much do you feel your upbringing – being raised in Spain and Germany, and now living in the US – played a role in your vision for the Festival?
A: The vision of the Festival – ‘Bridging Cultures / Bridging People’ – is very personal to me. I am an immigrant myself, first when moving to Spain from Germany at the age of 9 and then moving to the US at the age of 18. My entire life has been affected by bridging cultures and finding a way to feel at home everywhere I go. So my upbringing one-hundred percent influences the Festival’s vision/mission.
Q: Given the ever-divisive world we live in, do you feel festivals like Evolution Mallorca – and cinema more generally – are important mechanisms for bringing people together and building better understandings?
A: Yes. I believe in today’s global climate film festivals are crucial. They act as a global platform and melting pot of people from all over the world, with a common mission to tell stories and have them heard by an international audience.
Q: This year’s program celebrates 100 projects from 23 countries. Can you tell us about the selection process and your feelings about the final program?
A: EMIFF starts receiving submission in January. we start watching films in March and go all the way until our final deadline in August.
I am the head programmer of EMIFF, my favourite responsibility! I don’t usually go into the programming process with a theme or goal. It is more of an organic process. You know a good movie when you see it and visa versa. When you watch movies that have similar themes and storylines you start taking a closer look and a theme slowly develops by itself.
It’s a long, creative, nerve-racking but very satisfying process. Holding a freshly printed program in your hands is the best gift after many months of programming.
Q: This exciting programme also features Music Videos, Films for Kids and a Virtual Reality lounge. But I am particularly interested in the Made In Baleares section, can you tell us more about that?
A: I created the Made in Baleares section three years ago. My goal was to create a section that highlights film projects produced and shot on the Balearic islands. I wanted to give local filmmakers a strong voice and platform to present their films.
The first year we screened five local films, and this year we have 25! I think having this category also pushed many local filmmakers to really get their projects made because they saw a light at the end of the tunnel, an opportunity to screen it when they where done. I love seeing this category grow and thrive every year.
Q: From the programme, I have only been fortunate to have seen Andrea Jaurrieta’s fantastic thriller ‘Ana By Day‘ – which I highly recommend people go and see. Is there a particular film that you are excited for audiences to experience?
A: I get that question and I want to run (smiles). Only because you’re asking me to choose from a program so carefully selected that picking one wouldn’t be fair to all the others.
However, I will pick one. I love the film M, a French debut film by writer-director and well-known actress Sara Forestier. Her work in this film is incredibly moving, as a writer, director and actress.
Q: You star in ‘Fay Away’, which will screen at the festival. Can you tell us about the film and your role in it?
A: Fay Away is a 12min short film I produced together with my husband Rainer Lipski, who is the director and DP. I developed the story with a good friend and screenplay writer from Berlin; Katharina Maas.
The film tells the story of Fay, a young entrepreneur living the quintessential L.A. 30’s lifestyle: work hard, play hard. In the midst of all that, she looses touch with her father, and a tragic event happens takes her back to see her dad after 23 years. Old emotions are brought up and new family dynamics are formed.
Q: This year Marisa Paredes, Mads Mikkelsen, Tobias Lindholm and Melissa Leo will all be honoured at the Festival. How important for you is it to pay homage to this figures?
A: Marisa Paredes is a Grand dame of Spanish/European cinema. She embodies this incredibly glamorous, strong yet sensitive woman. All her characters are infused with a certain intensity which is mesmerizing. It’s an honour to honour her.
Mads Mikkelsen will receive the VISION award. He embodies a European actor with an international career, he is embodies Bridging Cultures and he has a strong love for Mallorca.
Melissa Leo is our Oscar winning indie darling. She has had to fight hard for her roles and prove over and over again that she was right for her parts. Myself and the festival can identify, we are all fighters and dream chasers.
Q: Guests to the Festival in prior years have included Danny DeVito, Emma Suarez and many others. I can only imagine you have many fun stories from your time worming on the Festival, are there any you can share with us?
Danny DeVito is a blast. He is the sweetest person. He would go and attend random short film screenings at the festival, sit in the last row with a big bag of popcorn and afterwards would find the filmmakers and have intense conversations about their films, work, vision and storytelling.
He is all about the craft and he respects every single filmmaker, first time or award winning. That was very humbling to see.
Q: What has been your proudest and most challenging moment running this festival?
A: The biggest challenges is to get the cinemas full. There are so many distractions, so when a person knows about the festival, picks a film, makes a plan to come to the cinema and see it. Thats makes me proud. When they leave the cinema after the screening and I can see that something has moved or inspired them in any way, that is the biggest gift to me.
Q: What are your main hopes for this year’s festival?
A: Attracting a larger audience and inspiring them!
Q: What is your vision for the festival in the future?
A: Keep growing our audience and community, keep attracting amazing filmmakers and keep spreading our mission ‘BRIDGING CULTURES / BRIDGING PEOPLE’.
Q: Lastly, do you have a message or any other comments for audiences ahead of the Evolution Mallorca International Film Festival?
A: Join the Evolution!
The 7th annual Evolution Mallorca International Film Festivals runs from 25-31 October. Click for more info