Starting as an enthusiastically organised event for a couple of friends and film buffs in Prague, FebioFest has grown during the past years into one of the largest film festivals in the Czech Republic. With 2013 marking the 20th anniversary, FebioFest was an exciting event that not only looked at the history of the festival, but also at the future of the film industry.
Founded in 1993 by Febio, an independent film and TV company, FebioFest has undergone huge transformations in its 20-year lifespan. Born out of sheer enthusiasm and with basically no budget, the event originated as a small, independent film festival. In its beginnings, Febio wanted the festival to support and provide working opportunities for Czech filmmakers during the difficult transition period from communism to democracy and market economy. Exceeding in this initial goal, the festival grew and started to include films from other countries and to focus on key filmmakers who were pushing the boundaries of the medium. In 2003 the festival aptly dubbed itself ‘The Festival of Nations’. It prided itself on highlighting the hidden faces of the cinema world through exploring new and unusual styles, little known national cinemas and drawing attention to the profiles of experimental film and video makers. The festival has continued to grow throughout the years and has created new categories that allow it to further highlight the works that are sculpting the art form of film for the future.
One of the festival’s distinct elements is the Grand Prix FebioFest; an award for the best new European movies that can only be won for filmmakers’ debut or second feature length film. Differing from many other festival awards, the Grand Prix doesn’t look to reward the popular directors who are frequently in the limelight, but instead aims to support emerging artists who are the future of the industry. Another exciting aspect of this award is the jury; 33 members of the public decide the winner of the prize. These jury members come from a range of backgrounds and are of all different ages. Which assures that the award isn’t won by ‘industry favourites’ but is chosen by the true centre of the film industry: the audience.
2013 also saw a new prize included in the festival for mid-length films. Dedicated to movies that are not long enough for full-length competitions and not short enough for the abundance of short films festivals, FebioFest hopes to boost the profile of this often forgotten category. This inclusion again highlights the festival’s dedication to improving the industry and giving recognition to great filmmakers who are often overlooked.
That being said, the FebioFest does also recognise well-known figures who have improved the art form of filmmaking throughout the years. The Kristián is awarded to individuals for their lifelong contribution to cinematography, and has been presented to some of the greats: Roman Polanski, Agnieszka Holland, Claudia Cardinale and many more. The aesthetically striking trophy was designed by Olbram Zoubek and has become an icon of the festival. 2013 celebrated the history of the prize through featuring new work from some of the past winners.
Other than the prizes, FebioFest has a number of categories in which it highlights new and exciting films being made around the world. Three examples of these great categories are:
Asian Panorama: the most exciting new films being made in the vast continent of Asia.
The World in 3D: great international films made in 3D that have been left in the shadows of the Hollywood titans.
The Rhythm of the Balkan: new films that are giving a voice to both the present and the past of the Balkan area.
Then, if all of those films weren’t enough, the nights of the festival ended with the FebioFest Music festival. These fun evenings showcased world music, jazz, blues, avant-garde and alternative rock concerts in the multiplex cinema garages. FebioFest is truly an all-inclusive festival.
FebioFest is a unique film event that has been supporting the most exciting filmmakers for two decades now and is a must for all film fanatics.
The festival will once again return in 2014 from the 20th – 28th March
Visit FebioFest’s Website for more information.
By Andrew Kingsford-Smith