Ile Courts Festival: A growing event thanks to ACPCultures+

2016 has been the ninth year of the Île Courts Festival.  In its previous eight years, this meeting of cinema fans has grown, allowing for the development of a local and regional cinematic industry.  This is not just a festival, but also a centre of production, distribution, promotion, and film education.

The festival has above all been a springboard for directors, technicians, and professionals from Mauritius. Consistent with its mission to create a Mauritian cinematic industry, Île Courts has encouraged the creation of short films. Through its workshops, it has provided the tools and, most importantly, the motivation for directors to produce these shorts. More than 30 works have been made in this way. Significant is that the production of fictional short films was entrusted to a Mauritian producer to favour the development of the local film industry. This participation of young professionals, all compensated, in the production of short films offers real opportunities for work in cinema for those who operate most often in the audio-visual and publicity sectors. The festival thus provides an unparalleled collection of experiences for those engaged in the production of these films, in terms of learning, discussions, and experimentation.

To compensate for the absence of a film school in the country, the Île Courts Festival has served, since its inception, as a training workshop hosted by foreign and Mauritian professionals, aimed at young Mauritian professionals in all cinematic sectors. From its beginnings, the Archipelago of Cinemas has paid special attention to the question of writing. In 2016, the Porteurs d’Image Association developed cinema training opportunities for professionals as well as youth, both during and outside the festival.

Other workshops train professionals in different areas, linked directly or indirectly to the film industry.  Around 100 professionals have been trained in writing, technological skills, directing, and acting.  “These are intensive trainings in a small group, which allows participants to develop skills in many areas. Our goal is to ensure that people are highly specialised in a precise area of film - whether that is as a director or as a scriptwriter, for example,” explains Elise Mignot, the former director of the festival.

In terms of attendance, the intake of the ACPCultures+ Programme was crucial. If in 2014, the Porteurs d’Image Association was able to gather more than double the audience of 2012 (4,532 spectators), 2015 was a real breaking point, gathering in one year the highest number of public attendees since the festival’s inception. “This result, combined with the young age of the public as well as the important advances made for youth, bodes well for the development of an audience for quality cinema in Mauritius and its partner countries in the coming years,” explains Ophélie Belin, the new director of the festival.

Thanks to the support of ACPCultures+, new initiatives are brought in each year - open-air screenings, workshops, meetings, collaborations with other countries, and above all the possibility of year-round screenings. “Since 2014, we have offered activities outside of the festival that continue throughout the year,” explains Elise Mignot. “This is possible because there are people who are paid for this work.  Our objective is to find a way of making the festival sustainable at the end of this initiative, which will be spread across three years. We want it to become autonomous.”

ACPCultures+ has also made the film education programme “FOCUS YOUTH” possible.  This initiative comprises training for educators in film education as well as workshops and screenings in educational establishments and partner NGOs. “The youth are the audience of tomorrow,” analyses Elise Mignot. “Film education, through watching films, debating, analysing, learning cinematographic techniques and directing short films, allows young people to familiarise themselves with the use of image, to question their understanding and the understanding of others, and to develop creative reflection and a critical eye towards the media and audiovisual elements surrounding them in their day to day lives.”

In the framework of “FOCUS YOUTH”, the Archipelago of Cinemas has set up year-round screenings at Mauritian primary schools, secondary schools, and universities.

From a cross-sectional point of view, many themes were explored by the festival. “If it seems unnecessary to highlight here our commitment to the values of good governance, democracy, and respect for human rights, the themes that we evoke deal with the empowerment of women, sustainable development, the preservation of the environment, and the rights of indigenous peoples,” explains Ophélie Belin.

What is currently being done to ensure that the festival becomes self-sustaining? “We are trying to increase our partnerships. We are working relentlessly to convince partners, public or private, to work alongside us,” says the festival director.

Thanks to the contribution of ACPCultures+, which has guaranteed a full time salary for the researching of potential partners and financing sources, the Archipelago of Cinemas has succeeded in bringing 53 partners on board for the Île Courts Festival, the FFB-Forum Film Bazar, and Focus Jeunes, which have each in their own way become indispensable to the initiative. This assiduous work has made it so that all the progress created by the festival will become permanent over time.


 For more "best practices" of the ACPCultures+ Programme, visit THIS PAGE

June 21, 2017
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