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Robert Bodrog

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Freshly Squeezed Film Festival Opens in Dublin

Imagine a festival that would give film students and recent graduates the chance to showcase their short films. And imagine if this festival was open to students from all over the world to submit their films, regardless of language or genre.

Well, some very innovative and creative people in Dublin not only imagined it, they did it. And thanks to their efforts, 40 young film makers are having their work shown on the big screen this weekend in Dublin at the inaugural Freshly Squeezed International Student Short Film Festival.

The festival's venue, Dublin's historic Screen Cinema, will present work in the categories of drama, comedy, experimental, thrillers, sci-fi and horror on Saturday. Sunday's programme will showcase romance, documentary work and animation.

I spoke to Katarina Doolan, Head of Submissions for Freshly Squeezed, and asked her about the genesis of the festival and what she hopes it will achieve, and prospects for the future.

Robert Bodrog: Where did the idea for the festival come from? What is your goal and what do you hope to achieve with the festival?

Katarina Doolan: Well, Piret [Saar] the Festival Director, was the one who came up with the idea. She just finished her master's in script writing, and she decided there was a gap in the industry, in terms of festivals, student film festivals. In Dublin, in Ireland, we really don't have many student festivals. So the idea is that we can give new talent an opportunity to have their films screened, including films from abroad, and we can give them more visibility. And I believe personally that once you can show your work, you also learn by seeing how people react to it. 

RB: How many films were submitted for this first festival? And how many were accepted for screening?

KD: We had 200 submissions, exactly. And 40 were selected for the festival.

RB: And in terms of criteria, obviously you'll always get more submissions than you can accommodate, so I guess that's where the difficult part begins. So as Head of Submissions, what were your criteria, and how many people looked at each submission?

KD: We had a committee of ten people. They were academics, film students as well, some of them graduating with master's degrees and post grads, and basically we gathered these ten people to short, well, long list let's say, to narrow it down. And then two people, myself and Piret, we looked at the ones that were selected, and we had an evaluation criteria for coming down to the 40 films. And the 10 people helped us out.

RB: So you started with 200, and each submission was watched by 10 people. 

KD: Yes.

RB: And then you short listed how many?

KD: We short listed 60 initially. And then [finally] 40.

RB: And what were the criteria that you used?
KD: We looked at creativity, originality, narrative as well. And we looked at technical issues as well. We looked at the directing and scriptwriting. 

RB: And you didn't limit it to one specific genre. Because I noticed you've got comedies, dramas, thrillers, experimental work, and documentaries. Was there a minimum or maximum length for work that could be submitted? How long can a short film be and still be called a short film, for your criteria?

KD: We decided on a limit of 15 minutes. So it would have to be a 15 minutes maximum.

RB: And of the submissions you received, what was the most popular format?

KD: Digital.There were, I believe, two or three that were actual film. But most of them were digital. And they used the wide-screen [16:9] ratio.

RB: And your event is international in scope. How many different countries did you receive submissions from. How many are represented in the final 40?

KD: We got a lot of U.K., the U.S., India, Australia, a lot of Australian films. Also Israeli films, Egyptian films. We have Estonian, French. And we had submissions from Brazil, Mexico, Spain.

RB: So the goal of the festival is to give film students their first break, to have their work showcased and bring to the attention of the public, and industry people?

KD: Exactly.

RB: To further their careers. And get their work out there, to be seen.

KD: And to give them an incentive. To pursue it. 

RB: So this is first year for the festival. Will there be a second edition next year?

KD: We hope so. We're planning to go on with it. 

RB: Well, I think you're off to a great start. So it can only get bigger and better from here. And if people want to submit for next year's festival, they should check your website for updates?

KD: Yes. We have very active social media going on. Facebook, twitter, and our web page as well. 

RB: OK. Well, best of luck to you. Thanks for talking to me. 

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