By Fionn Burrows
The Manchester Independent Film Festival (MANIFF) takes place over 4 days between the 2nd and 5th March and features films from every corner of the globe as well as those a little closer to home.
The festival which only started 3 years ago in 2015, showcases independent film from across the world. This year’s festival features international films from countries such as Norway, Denmark and Austria to name a few as well as shining a light on local talent by hosting a north- west themed opening night. The festival also makes a point of inclusivity by placing awards on films from ‘Women in Film’ to ‘Rising Star’.
The festival will take place at the Odeon Printworks in Manchester city centre where filmmakers from every corner of the globe will mix and mill in the crowds of fans looking to get their first chance to catch the films of the festival as well as panels from ‘Women in Film’ to ‘Jury Select’ which will discuss the film selection process for the festival.
Odeon Printworks exterior – Fionn Burrows
Speaking with pair of Danish film makers; Director Frederick Barington and Producer Lars Iversen, who are screening their film When the Sun Shines at the festival, they shone some light on the process of making a film and having them shown.
In particular talking about the sources of funding. They say that funding is usually reserved for more experienced filmmakers: “Our film was funded almost solely privately… we made our film outside of the normal system..” Suggesting that their youth means there “isn’t really a stepping stone.”
The Danish Film Institute allocates “subsidies for the development, production and distribution of Danish films”. However Barington and Iversen suggest that the institute is not willing to take risks on funding films if the creators have not been to film school, which means, despite government funding, taking the initial first step is the hardest.
I then spoke to Austrian Cinematographer, Richi Wagner who is showcasing his film Planet Ottakring. Similarly to Denmark, government funding is available from the Austrian Film Institute (AFI) except when the AFI differs from its counterpart in Demark is that more money is put aside for smaller projects as in Austria Films primarily gain funding through television channels and the AFI, no corporations are involved.
Richi did suggest that despite more funding being available for young filmmakers, they are still met with difficulty from producers who tend to “favour their own interest”. So he pleads everyone “ the best way to support independent film is to spend your hard earned cash and go to the cinema!”.
Press event at the Radisson Blu hotel, Manchester – Fionn Burrows
In order to find out more about the selection process for choosing which films will be screened as part of the festival I spoke to MANIFF organiser and co-founder, Neil Jeram-Croft.
The selection process starts after the deadline for filmmakers to submit their works ends. At which point, Neil and several other on the Jury Select Committee sift through to find the best films for the given year. He said although he wishes he could have invited certain other filmmakers to showcase, “this is the fairest way to make the selections as it avoids any prior favouritism”.
Neil believes that “… films that focus on the art of cinema, as opposed to focused on audience” make for better films. Comparing the festival films to Hollywood blockbusters and comic book movies which are fully funded by large studios geared towards audience numbers and profit, he believes that independent films have more depth to them. As such, in order to qualify to be featured at the festival, films must be “at least 50% funded independently”.
The festival is completely non-profit. All submission fees go into the running of the festival which is also partnered with local business and organisations such as Manchester Metropolitan University, Odeon, Mentrolink, Radisson Blu Hotels, Manchester Evening News etc. in order to provide residence, transport and service to creators free of charge and provide discounts for festival goers. So Neil closed by saying “come and watch”.
Interview with MANIFF co-founder; Neil Jeram-Croft, whilst attending networking event at Radisson Blu Hotel – By Fionn Burrows/Jamie Oliver/Lauren Brassington
The festival offers a range of events including; narrative features, documentaries, shorts, animations, experimental films, music videos and screenplays. By offering such a wide range of specialities across the medium it allows the festival to showcase independent, up and coming talent from across the industry as well as providing festival goers with the widest range of events of and MANIFF to date.
The importance of independent, low budget cinema was echoed in February by Moonlight director Barry Jenkins, who’s production had the budget 1/30th of other Academy award nominated films. Jenkins said “I worked at a film festival in the mid-west for several years and started directing shorts… Moonlight is only my second feature film, which proves that you don’t need experience or high budget to produce good cinema”.
So whether it’s a Scandinavian drama or a British North-West short film, Manchester Film Festival will continue to shine a bright torch of representation for the independent filmmakers of the future.
Locations of Manchester Film Festival events: