Cinema Without Borders: Please tell us about the history of IZOLA Cinema Film Festival.
Koen Van Daele: The Isola Cinema festival took place for the first time in May 2004. Its programme focus was on African, Asian, Latin American and Eastern European cinema. The over thirty films of the official programme were shown on three venues, while the festival marked 5000 visitors, most of them enchanted by the spells of the open air cinema on Manzioli square. The festival hosted thirteen film artists and many more important guests from around the globe, from India, Iran, Russia to Thailand (the motherland of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, a Thai director that came to Izola only three days after winning the Prix du Jury in Cannes!).
On May 31st we open the fourth edition. Over the years the key ingredients remained unchanged: set in the small town of Izola (located on Slovenia’s Adriatic coast) this five-day festival offers a relaxed – yet, at the same time, intense – full-time engagement with the Art of Film.
CWB: What are the different categories in IZOLA Festival competition?
Koen: The Open-Air Cinema is the main stage for our Harvest section, in which five films from all corners of the world compete for the Audience Award. The festival guarantees nationwide Slovenian theatrical distribution of the award-winning film.
For the second time Isola Cinema will present its educational programme named Silvan’s Cine School in honour of the godfather of the festival – and founder of the Slovene Cinematheque – Silvan Furlan. This programme, organised in collaboration with The Cinematheque Society, has been organised around the theme “I Am the Stage of Cinema”.
Friends: Every year Isola Cinema asks some of our faithful foreign colleagues to invite their filmmaking friends to our ‘Island of Cinema’. Award-winning writer-director – and another of the festival’s ‘godfathers’ – Jan Cvitkoviè has invited Christopher Coppola (USA) with his PAH-Fest project.
Island Animateka: A section curated by the Ljubljana international Animateka festival. This year the section features Chinese contemporary animation film.
Open Island is the most eclectic section (and opens this year with Abderrahmane Sissako’s Bamako).
Good Neighbours: Inter-regional Accent is a new section. This programme intends to spotlight each year two authors working in Slovenia’s neighbouring countries.
CWB: Has international cinema has a strong presence at IZOLA Cinema Film Festival? What countries are expected to participate in 2007 festival?
Koen: Absolutely. This year we’re showing films from: China, the Netherlands, the USA, Mali, Italy, Iran, UK, Chad, Belgium, Austria, Ethiopia, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Argentina, Switzerland, Kyrgystan, France, the Philippines, Finland, Japan, Russia, and Slovenia.
CWB: Are there any international filmmakers guests attending the festival?
Koen: Yes. Fifteen foreign filmmakers and two actors will be presenting their films at Isola Cinema 2007.
CWB: Please tell us about IZOLA Festival jury members.
Koen: There’s no jury at our festival. The five films in the Harvest section are competing for the Audience Award. So our public is the judge.
CWB: What is the main focus of the festival?
Koen: Isola Cinema is a small festival, and wants to remain so. Instead of an overcrowded schedule, we want to offer a certain vision of contemporary cinema, one in which we firmly believe. More than solely screening films, the festival believes that such important works deserve a personal accompaniment. It’s our view that no film-screening is really ‘complete’ without the presence of the film’s ‘author’, and so our policy – and our priority – is to have as many of the directors present as possible.
CWB: Please tell us about your plans for the future of the IZOLA Cinema Film Festival.
Koen: Since all the filmmakers who have attended the previous editions of Isola Cinema have expressed the wish to return to our »island«, we have decided to invite them again to our first anniversary »Isola Cinema 5! -Reunion Edition.