By Alexander Acosta Osorio

The ninth edition of In The Palace International Short Film Festival, held from June 18-25 in Balchik, Bulgaria, brought together more than 150 filmmakers from five continents. Cinematographers from South and North America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa presented work in four categories: fiction, animation, experimental, and documentary. Their films were judged by a panel of notable filmmakers, journalists, and industry representatives from the United States, Romania, Croatia, Russia and Bulgaria.

Besides film screenings, the festival ran a series of workshops related to the state of the industry such as the international media conference and the “Aspects of Success” lecture by Gregg Helvey, director and producer of Kavi, an Academy Award winner for best student short film and a story examining modern-day slavery. Helvey talked about his personal experience in the process of making a successful film and shared useful tips on how to approach film production, funding, marketing, and distribution.

Filmmakers and industry professionals also had the opportunity to attend a session that tried to match producers and filmmakers, as well as several Q&A sessions with those directly involved in the production process of the short films.

Jury member Linda Olszewski, Vice President of Acquisitions of Shorts Entertainment Networks for the Oscars, held a workshop on the “Power of Film” where filmmakers had the opportunity to discuss topics ranging from funding, festivals, and distribution, to ways to qualify a film for Academy Award consideration.

Sandi Sissel, a distinguished cinematographer who heads New York University’s graduate film program, was another jury member whose extensive experience in film, television, and documentary includes various awards for coverage of the war in Vietnam and work she did for NBC and ABC, Saturday Night Life and 60 minutes.

“The way I feel about international films is that we all can have a common bond because you can see the human experience from every single country,” mentioned Sissel.

Among the shorts in the competition was a modern-day adaptation of the Medusa myth, Red in the Water by Mikel Gurrea, a young director from San Sebastian, Spain. The Extraordinary Life of Rocky by Belgian filmmaker Kevin Meul was among the audience’s favorites for its dark humor and clever story. Another Belgian, Wim Geudens, won the award for best script and sound with his Beats of Love, a story about a man in search of sounds to conquer the heart of his dream woman.

From student shorts to more serious films, each one explored common themes: from conflict and tragedy (3 Hours Regan Hall,) the passage of time (Minute 200 Frank Benitez,) identity deconstruction (3sai Paul Emmanuel) to the psychological (Nulepsy Jessica Rinland) and the imaginary (out of erasers Erik Rosenlund), while documentaries explored real characters up close (Mother Jakub Piatek, Caught Between Two Worlds Viktor Nagi, and A Balkan Rhapsody Tatyana Mircheva).

An ÉCU representative attended the 2011 edition of the festival in order to share information, experiences and forge partnerships.

ÉCU shared the stage with organizations from Russia, Germany, and Finland in the festival’s market sessions where different representatives of the industry gathered to share information and promote partnerships between organizations and other festivals.

Different voices of love, hate, loss, the absurd, and exploration of the human condition were frequent themes present at the In The Palace festival, offering viewers and filmmakers a rich and varied program for all tastes.

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