Last week I travelled to the capital of the Piedmont region of Italy, Turin (Torino in Italian) and, over the American Thanksgiving weekend I spent a considerable amount of time and energy gorging on delicious food. More importantly, in what space I could fill around feasting, I was able to attend the third annual Torino Short Film Market.
This was the first time S/W had attended the event, so we were a bit unsure of what to expect. Unlike most markets our team is familiar with (Cannes, Clermont-Ferrand, Regard, Palm Springs), TSFM is a standalone market that operates without being attached to a film festival. Freed from this usual audience-focus, we were really pleased with the presentation and utility of the event for short film professionals. Despite only being its third edition, Torino director Jacopo Chessa has built an event that already feels secure in its place within the biggest short film markets in Europe, and is well on its way to becoming a notable stop on the global circuit, as we were really impressed by the level of attendance from key players in the industry.
For buyers (or programmers in our case), Torino shines. When you mention a market a Video Library is a must. Despite the lack of corresponding festival, this was no mere undifferentiated catalog—full programs curated by the TSFM programmers were available too, along with blocks provided by third parties such as distributors, film institutes, and other festivals. For those seeking a break from computer terminals, a screening room was adjacent, providing a constant chance for attendees to make new discoveries. Additionally the event makes it as easy as possible for credential holders, as the catalog is accessible online for six months. We found it extremely easy to use, with surprisingly functional filters.
Short of the Week believes strongly in an online exhibition model for short films predicated on filmmakers maximizing exposure for their films, a viewpoint we described this year in a big article entitled Be Everywhere All At Once. This article caused quite a stir and received healthy pushback from the kind of short film industry that attends markets such as this one. However we’ve been careful to admit that there is no one-size-fits-all plan for all filmmakers, and included this line, saying “If you adhere to a ‘Be Everywhere All At Once’ mindset, you realize that any and all exhibition avenues are simply opportunities to pursue exposure with the goals of audience and opportunity.” Thus, for filmmakers, these kind of industry-heavy markets make a lot of sense compared to mid-tier festivals, and are not just a great place for potential exposure for your film, but to learn more about a short film industry that is in a state of rapid transformation.
While the event as a whole is carefully curated for the industry rather than the general public, I was struck by how inclusive it is for people at any stage of their career—from film students to big time buyers. TSFM feels like a family reunion to celebrate short films while still fostering an amazing networking opportunity and honestly the single, cosy and gorgeous location—Il Circolo Dei Lettori—beats any standard hotel or conference center.
The biggest room, the Sala Grande, sees different sessions throughout the day: masterclasses, panels, as well as pitch sessions from different entities of the industry. This is where, I believe, the biggest learning opportunity comes for filmmakers. Hearing peers pitching their new projects, accumulating festival knowledge, and familiarizing oneself with the business aspects of the circuit is valuable. This general knowledge provides any filmmaker firmer understanding of how best to share their work with the world and what expectations to have. The access to the online network of professionals is also not insignificant.
Add to that busy schedule daily social events, and one-on-one meeting opportunities, usually followed by activities that the city of Turin has to offer (it is Italy after all…), and you end up going home feeling like work can really be fun!
If you want to participate next time out, the call for submissions opens in June with a deadline in early September. The 10€ submission fee grants you an accreditation, allowing you access to all the market has to offer: the video library, the different talks, the screenings and the VR. Filmmakers submit their films, but can also submit a project for pitch sessions. This year had a session dedicated to features in development based on shorts.
Having been a frequent attendee of major film festivals and markets, I came away feeling that TSFM provides a good and accurate reflection of the short film world in its present form. Short film is a brilliant medium and allows for a truly independent cinema, but, of course, artistic freedom and big money rarely go together. Still, there are plenty of buyers with a sharp eye for great content if that is the direction you go in (again though, it probably shouldn’t be, make an informed decision!), but in either case it was gratifying to be in an environment with so many who possess genuine affection for the form. In a time where everything digital has to be consumed faster, hopefully people will realize how cool short films are sooner than later, and the gospel spreads.
As for me, I have a lot of content to dig through over the next few months, and hopefully some gem discoveries that we will be able to share with you.