FAMU
Festivals and Competitions

Dear students,

Festivals play an important role in the life and work of a filmmaker in today’s world; therefore, many festivals are held every year in various places with various themes. Some evolve into important international events in the course of time while others perish.  

The presentation of FAMU films in both domestic and international festivals is an important part of the student film life cycle which, from the perspective of time, are of a genuinely ephemeral nature. Films made in a certain year are interesting to festivals for a year, or maybe two; then they are replaced by new films. Therefore, do not hesitate and exploit the festival potential which we strive to open and make accessible to you, our students. The following lines aim to give you some useful tips and recommendations in case you would like to engage in festival competitions on your own, or we offer assistance in creating the festival strategy for your films.

About festivals in general

There are currently thousands, or tens of thousands of film festivals of various themes and various categories all over the world. By virtue of its festival department, FAMU submits films to festivals all year round based on the registration start dates. Identically to other film schools, FAMU primarily focuses on short film festivals, documentary festivals, festivals dedicated to animated films and to student works in general.

Besides the festivals where FAMU regularly registers, along with other film schools around the globe, the school also receives calls for submissions from many others on a daily basis. If the offers are in line with the festival strategies of the individual titles, we respond positively to those, too.

The school’s website continuously posts the up-to-date list of festivals where FAMU sends its films; we expect you, the filmmakers, directors, producers, to pay attention to the festivals and contact us in your own interest, so we can coordinate the steps of film registration and festival strategy compilation.

I want to submit my film to a festival – what do i do?

The Festival agenda of FAMU is managed by the Festival Department which reports to the Dean’s Office in the FAMU organisation structure. The Festival Department Coordinator, Alexandra Hroncová, acts on behalf of FAMU in communication with film festivals and shows, submits films to festivals and is in charge of payment of the fees for films recommended by Department Heads to selected festivals.  At the same time, she keeps in contact with filmmakers with respect to the festival potential, informs them of the opportunities, application or submission confirmations or, ideally, if the film has been accepted, she helps in the subsequent process.

If filmmakers or producers wish to submit their film to a specific festival, there are two ways of doing that:

a)  Contact the Festival Department with an application and present the documents necessary for film entry; the Festival Department is in charge of the subsequent process.

b)  The filmmakers/producers submit the film to the festival themselves; any subsequent communication, fees and agenda associated with film delivery in case it has been selected for the competition, is their own responsibility. To avoid duplicate applications, or exceeding the permitted number of films each film school is allowed to enter in the festival, such filmmakers are obliged to inform the Festival Department of their intention 15 days in advance. If the film wins any financial prize, it shall be used to compensate for the filmmakers’ or producers’ expenses associated with the festival presentation.

What do I have to do to successfully submit my film to a festival?

a)  The film must be duly completed and established in the FAMU Studio, i.e. it must have all copyright agreements in place including the music copyright to allow potential public presentation of the film, see Rules for Exercise Production in FAMU Studio. If there are dialogues in Czech, the film must have English subtitles. FAMU Studio must keep a final version of the film in both potential languages (Czech and English) – see the Dean’s Decree on FAMU Student Film Presentation at Film Festivals and Competitive/Non-Competitive Shows for more technical details.  For festival purposes, the festival coordinator shall upload the film to the Faculty’s Vimeo channel under a password, and sent as a preview screener to the festival committee along with the application.  

b)  Fill in the FAMU ENTRY FORM (available from the festival coordinator or on the website, to be filled in by the filmmaker / producer)

c)   Three photographs from shooting, HiRes quality, 300 dpi as a minimum.

d)  A photograph of the director, HiRes quality, 300 dpi as a minimum.

e)  The dialogue list in English, with time codes, srt format.

If available, we also recommend:
f)   Trailer.

g)  Poster.

h)  Press kit.

Notes on the FAMU ENTRY FORM:

Please pay due attention to the Entry Form, enter all of the requested information in both Czech and English. Please, on top of the synopsis, fill in the logline and Director’s Note – this is mandatory information for a number of festivals and the festival coordinator cannot do that for you. Therefore, it is necessary to prepare everything for her, so she does not have to contact you in the process of filling in the individual applications – this saves a lot of time on both sides, trust me :-)

In case of festivals where FAMU participates every year, the festival coordinator organises the regular annual submission of the current collection of your films. If the filmmakers have chosen a specific festival you wish to submit your film to, just send the application – together with the website of the relevant festival – to Alexandra Hroncova by e-mail to alexandra.hroncova@famu.cz

It is vital for the film to have English subtitles (or it might be an English version) for international festivals. Films without English subtitles cannot be submitted to international festivals. As some festivals (particularly in countries where the primary language is Spanish, Portuguese, or Italian or French) prefer screening the films in their respective languages, the filmmakers must have a copy with no subtitles along with the dialogue list, srt format, with time codes. This makes it easier for the festival to translate the dialogue and add the subtitles. This applies particularly to animated films intended for young audience – English subtitles are irrelevant in this case as the target groups does not have a good enough command of English to understand the film. In any case, if you have festival ambitions for your film, include the subtitling and professional translation in your production budget already.  The Festival Department will be happy to help you with recommendations of bilingual native translators so you can rest assured your film is translated correctly.

 

Here, we should also mention one thing about english translations of your dialogues:

In a number of cases of English translations of FAMU films, the translations have not been quite adequate, sometimes even to the extent that it fails to capture a comedic feature, atmosphere, feeling, verbal nuances, or is just plain wrong. Disregarding the fact that very often some of the final credits, song lyrics or other notes remain untranslated, although they form an integral part of the film and help the audience understand the overall context. Sometimes, the film needs a little explanation if the context is only understood by Czechs – foreign viewers or the festival committee could be confused why the film is called what it is called, what a play on words means if it only makes sense in Czech etc. This could rob your film of a possibility to make the same impression on foreign festival evaluators as it has made on Czech audience simply because some things have been lost in translation. And, consequently, your film might not be chosen.

This can easily happen if you only give the dialogue list to the translator, rather than the entire film – the translator might easily miss the above, and it would not be his fault completely. Please do not underestimate the importance of English translations of your films!

Which festivals may my film be submitted to?

FAMU films may be submitted and “fitted” to several categories – primarily the “Student Film” as well as “Short Film” and then, based on type, feature film / documentary / animated film / experimental film.  However, we search for potential for your films in festivals with categories based on the film form, genre, target group, theme etc. This is the aim of the festival strategy created by the festival coordinator in collaboration with the filmmakers; the coordinator is in direct contact with the festival programmers and responds to their demand. FAMU has an account with a number of foreign portals used to enter films in festivals, with a history, pre-paid credit, established titles and, therefore, you can save a lot of time through this administration. Do not hesitate to contact the coordinator during her office hours; make an appointment first.  

In case your film has been selected for the competition you will be informed. At the same time, the medium to be sent with the film will be agreed. FAMU tries to ensure that the filmmakers are invited to the festivals, too. If this happens and the full amount of expenses is not compensated by the festival, the festival coordinator shall compile a justification and confirmation of your attendance for the Scholarship Committee. The festival coordinator always tries to arrange invitation for the filmmakers as this is an invaluable and unique experience. It would be great for every FAMU filmmaker to get the opportunity to present his or her film at a festival, answer questions from the audience, meet potential distributors or producers at least once in the course of the studies – these are all matters and experience determining for your future careers.

Note on length: the vast majority of short film festivals only accept lengths of up to 30 minutes; therefore, we recommend sticking to this limit when you finalise your film. With documentaries, the length of 50 minutes is practically universal, feature films are 30 minutes or then 60 minutes and more – however, those films are no longer considered short films. However, a length in the 50 to 60 minutes range is quite unfortunate – there is virtually no festival potential for such films, so please try to avoid this.

What is the premiere status?

When films are submitted, each festival requires information on their premiere status, i.e. whether the screening of the film, if accepted to the festival, will be a world premiere, international premiere, continental premiere or at least a national premiere in the relevant country. The premiere status is a fundamental condition for entry in important Category A film festivals like Berlinale or Cannes – films with world or at least international premiere are preferred. Otherwise, the film logically becomes uninteresting or less interesting for the festival. World, international or at least national premiere significantly improves the chances of entering your film in the international competition!! So, please, consider carefully where you make the first presentation of your film. Even if it is a competitive or non-competitive Czech festival, it is the world premiere of your film. In any case, do not hesitate to consult the festival coordinator on this; she can arrange the world premiere of your film at a film festival abroad.

Many festivals charge entry fees – who shall pay those?

As has been mentioned above, if you let the FAMU Festival Department handle your film, the Department has a certain budget for festival fees, and the festival coordinator processes and supervises all of the agenda from application to invoice payments. If you wish to look after your film yourself, any subsequent communication, fees and agenda related to film delivery if it is chosen for the competition is up to you, including the funds for paying the fees (see above, I Want to Submit My Film to a Festival – What Do I Do?). The advantage of entering via the official FAMU Festival Department is particularly the fact the coordinator can get the waivers – codes for free entry from the festivals as they are often granted to film schools, or she can get a discount on the fees for the school collection.

What do I do if a festival contacts me directly in relation to screening my film?

If you have been contacted directly by a festival or another show interesting in screening your film (whether commercial or non-commercial), you are obliged to contact the Festival Department which will manage the subsequent administration in cooperation with the FAMU Studio.

The festival coordinator will contact the relevant programmer and submit the film if all of the aforementioned materials are available (see What Do I Have to Do to Successfully Submit My Film to a Festival?). If there is an offer to distribution your film, all of the administrative and legal matters fall within the authority of FAMU. Please always bear in mind that FAMU is the owner of film copyright (with the exception of co-productions); therefore, any screening of the film anywhere in the world must be reported and approved by the Festival Department, and FAMU Studio! This must be complied with; another reason is that the coordinator might promise your film to a specific festival wherein she usually undertakes not to present the film anywhere else at the same time. In case of a commercial screening, i.e. any screening where admission charges are collected although the event might be presented as a non-profit one, FAMU must have a contract with the institution in question. Any potential profit from the sale of the licence for commercial screenings goes back to the FAMU festival budget and generates funds for more festival submissions and distribution of FAMU films all over the world – which, by the way, is the purpose and logic of Festival Department operation.

Please see the Dean’s Decree on FAMU Student Film Presentation at Film Festivals and Competitive/Non-Competitive Shows for more details.

Contact:
FAMU Festival Departments
Alexandra Hroncová
Smetanovo nábřeží 2, Praha 1, 3rd floor - Vice-Deans Office

Office hours:
Wednesdays 10a.m. to 4p.m.

In any case, for capacity reasons, please make an appointment by e-mail alexandra.hroncova@famu.cz or by phone at +420 724 753 713 before you turn up.