«I strongly believe in our common humanity and our quest for harmony»

FILM O'CLOCK IFF: Festival Director Mirona Radu on the festival's 2022 form, how it has adapted in this, its second pandemic-era edition, and more.

Film O’Clock International Festival is inspired by the idea of ​​developing and attracting a wide cross-section of audiences in order to promote empathy and an understanding for one other. It is therefore the festival’s priority to add value to the experience of watching a film through the use of Q & A sessions with the filmmakers as well as by encouraging online discussions and debates.

With Film O’Clock 2022 coming 1 – 6 March, Modern Times Review spoke with its Director Mirona Radu for some more insight into its 2022 form, how Film O’Clock has adapted in this, its second pandemic-era edition, and more.

Film O’Clock invites people, especially cinephiles, to connect and dialogue together at the same moment.

The festival combines several countries within the same meridian, which sets the foundation of its mission. Explain how these countries came to be involved with Film O’Clock, and what was your original vision for the festival?
I think the main idea behind the festival is linked to the fact I strongly believe in our common humanity and our quest for harmony. It is a challenge to build something against any borders as languages, cultural background, education, social and ethnic aspects. All the countries involved in Film O’Clock are at the first glance very different, we dare to put together places very far in terms of distances, as Lithuania and South Africa. We share the same time zone, and time is the most valuable resource that we have, therefore it should be a very strong connection between us. We have breakfast at the same time, we go to work at the same time, we watch films at the same time. Film O’Clock invites people, especially cinephiles, to connect and dialogue together at the same moment.

This will be the second edition of the festival. The first was, of course, held in the midst of pandemic times. How did the festival change from year one to year two as a result?
We learned a lot from the first edition and now we improved some of the things that worthen to be developed. At the same time, we lost big financial support, so now, with this new edition, I can say we also learnt a lot, about how to deal with this uncertain situation.

We are glad that we added Bulgaria, and this is our aim to include more countries, more venues, more partners and to reach more audience year after year. We kept the two directions which I consider define us: the classic cinema section and the short film competition, and the two-industry events. We added a masterclass on film journalism because we consider it is a need in this sense, and we would like in the future to develop a training program for young journalists and film critics.

In 2022 we organize only in-person screenings because we want to help cinemas in their struggle to bring back their audience.

With many countries involved in simultaneous viewings, how will the festival be presented, including its special programmes? What local cinemas will be involved?
I am very grateful for all the partnerships we have in these countries.

The screenings will take place at Cinema Muzeul Țăranului (Bucharest, Romania), Cinema Skalvija (Vilnius, Lithuania), Dom na kinoto (Sofia, Bulgaria), New Art Studio Cinema (Athens, Greece), AUC – Tahrir Cultural Center (Cairo, Egypt) and Labia Theatre (Cape Town, South Africa). The discussions following the screenings will be held mostly in online and streamed on our channels, and where this is possible, also in the venues.

The online platforms help us in connecting very easy for having a dialogue, the guests and the speakers can attend, not losing time and energy on expensive travels.

The festival values time, so this aspect can be seen in each detail of preparation.

Explain the curation process behind the films featured at the festival? Aside from the country of production, what sort of criteria goes into selection?
There is another change from the previous edition. We opened the submissions. Last year the films selected in the competition were preselected by the delegates of each country.

We had 97 submissions and we selected 12 very bold productions, produced in the last two years. The committee consisted of me, Dian Weys (scriptwriter and film director from South Africa) and Andrew Mohsen (director of the artistic office for Cairo Film Festival). We are open to including in the competition all genres if the films move people and have a strong directorial approach. For instance, for this edition, there are 3 animations, 1 documentary, 1 hybrid and 7 fiction films.

The process of selection and curation is maybe to most challenging and creative in the festival. All three come with a different vision and cultural differences. The challenge is to find harmony in a consistent proposition of the final selection.

A similar process is made with the classic cinema section, we have discussions, we advise each other. For this edition, we have included 3 documentaries, 1 musical and 2 fiction films. We try to select films, that can empower each other.

I founded Film O’Clock with a deep love and respect for cinema as art and for humankind

What do you envision as the future of Film O’Clock?
We have plans to develop a new initiative for the Festival, in order to keep the dialogue active with our followers during the entire year. We also prepare a podcast, even a cinema museum.

I founded Film O’Clock with a deep love and respect for cinema as art and for humankind, and I wish to grow over the meridians, to bring people together, to move them, to instil empathy, to build in time a strong community of people who care about each other and about the universe they live in. And I see this dream very clear. Film O’Clock will find its own way and meaning for the international community.

Steve Rickinson
Steve Rickinson
Steve lives in Bucharest, Romania. He writes for some platforms and does some other things as well.

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