Berlin Film Festival 2018 (WIDF)

David Evans, Festival Director of Wales International Documentary Festival, attended the Berlin Film Festival 2018, in February 2018 – read about his experience below. 

Wales International Documentary Festival, Blackwood, is a boutique festival showcasing documentary film from around the world. As the festival director I am looking to develop local audiences for films with potentially challenging content that act as a motor for change both for audiences and film makers.

In February 2018 I headed to Berlin, Mitte, The Berlinale where 18 producers, movers and shakers from around Europe were thrown together in a room and shunted around from screening to screening. I watched 12 films in four days, as well as networking, forums and sessions, and a few hours of sleep. The experience was a dollop of insight into current trends in production, distribution andaudiences for festivals and movies. It was exhilarating, exhausting and inspiring. A week of conversations and meetings, listening and sharing the triumphs and challenges of running festivals and making movies in other countries. Each country has it’s own particularities but also many shared features that made us all feel like we had a shared project – seeking out new audiences, united by a common passion for film.

The discussions with Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival director, Rene Kubasek was particularly inspiring. Here was a festival in the heart of the Czech rust belt, situated in a small town a couple of hours drive from the nearest airport, that still managed to involve the community in a festival that celebrated the best of experimental film making. We discussed partnership working, building trust with the community and the advantages and disadvantages of state support (or the lack of it) and the significant economic impact the festival has on a town. We agreed that it was a struggle to bring local audiences in to see more challenging films but it was important to identify content that could act as a gateway to more ‘difficult material – or in our case any material not in the English Language. A constant topic of discussion during the week was how we push content and develop audiences beyond our borders. What are the common themes and structures that can overcome cultural deficits?

In the future we have agreed to screen selected films from Jihlava Emerging Producers Programme and for selected (documentary) films from Wales/UK to be screened at Jihlava and we are in discussion about a similar arrangement with Piran Festival in Slovenia. Both small town festivals with big reputations that can be an inspiration for WIDF. We have extended an invitation to Peter Brossman former Mayor of Prian and the first BME mayor in Eastern Europe to join us for the screening of Loraine Blumenthal’s film ‘The Mayor’s Race’ and to discuss future partnerships. For us at WIDF it as important to project content that reflects the full diversity of Welsh life onto an international stage as it is to provoke, interest and inspire Welsh audiences with films from around the world.

The programme was split into three sections. David Evans was the only UK representative.

PROMOTION: The programme included a personal presentation of Emerging Producers, as well as an official presentation to film professionals and European press. This was an opportunity to further personal and career development and raise professional visibility both as producer and director of the Wales International Documentary Festival. The aim is to raise awareness of this event and of the profile of Welsh documentary film making in a European context. I endeavored to meet with distributors, festivals and broadcasters, in an effort to learn about audience development and markets in comparative markets to Wales.

NETWORKING: A fundamental part of the EP programme consists in various forms of informal meetings where people get to know each other and gain easy access to contacts for future international co-operations and partnerships, unlike in official negotiations and e-mail correspondence. However, the programme directors are particular about the fact that even the informal meetings have a specific form with a reasonable purpose to fulfil the networking aim. The individual meetings are planned for carefully selected specific circles of professionals. The aim is to help the producers meet all the major decision makers in the field of audio-vision present at the Berlin Industry Programme in the course of the project.

NAVIGATION: The EP Industry Programme is conceived so as to represent a real entrance gate to the film industry with a focus on creative documentary film and its forms overlapping with fiction film and various reality TV formats. It also focuses on the essential branches in the field of distribution and film sales including festivals with the aim of making the producers’ pathway to the desired results easier. The individual parts of the EP programme create an information cluster to help a start up European producer get oriented on the market. Tutors and mentors include Paolo Benzi, Irena Taskovski, Amra Bakšić Ćamo, Heino Deckert, Luciano Barisone, Peter Jäger, Sibyl Kurz, Rebecca O’Brien and others. Attendance at this event allowed me to further the programming objectives of the festival and connect with peers.

Here are some of the things David learnt while at the event.


I gained insight into the impact of festivals on film content. The divergence between UK and European/world markets reflects a wider divergence between English-speaking markets/audiences and the rest of the world. There were many lively debates about for whom exactly filmmakers are making films. I also learnt the importance of having key partnerships between festivals, political and cultural institutions, and how having year round programmes of activities and screenings enable audience development and participation. The big challenge is how can we make Welsh content that travels and make film makers understand the demands of the international market/audiences.


I will be focusing development strategy on the development of these links to local authorities, institutes of FE and HE and broadcasters allowing the festival to build capacity, reach and funding with which it can organise a more regular programme of year round activities.


I am happy to discuss partnerships and potential festival content with other Hub members as well as share contacts from European festivals. You can contact David Evans here

  1. Greater confidence in programming
  2. Extending professional network
  3. Understanding the international market
  4. The importance of festival branding
  5. How the festival market impacts on content.
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