Follow up to my post on Film Festivals

blue moscow

[a still from a work in progress]

A few minutes after I posted the previous entry asking why US Film Festivals have such astronomical fees, I logged onto Shooting People and there was a post by a person who had just become the victim of exactly the kind of festival I was warning about. A London documentary festival that did not take place AT ALL yet took the submitters’ fees. I hope the people get compensated. Is this not just disgusting?

I remember in Berlin a guy inviting a group of us to do a show in a venue out of town – he had 30k funding etc. but it all turned out to be his fantasy. Yes, he was just a fantasist that reinvented himself in his own mind as a cultural impresario. At least none of us got ripped off.

I once participated in a  gig in St Petersburg where everybody paid £200 for the visa the accommodation but when we arrived only some people got accommodated and we had to strike to force them to pay for the visa accreditation. To be fair, the organisation were legit, but had hooked up with a very whiffy expat Russian based in the UK who had promised to organise “the foreigners” – but he had no idea how to do that and neither did he care. The good that came out of that was that the artist were so pissed off that they rallied together to get something out of the debacle,  and made an absolute brilliant show.  I have friends that are very dear to me that I met there, so in the end it was all good. Still, that does not make what he did right.

Another Berlin gig I did went very weird when the funding institution went bankrupt during the festival. Luckily we had pushed them and got fully paid as soon as we arrived but a few people had not  and had waited and got nothing. Yet the organiser had been seen buying a new car about a week before. And then everybody said he was ex Stasi and it was all ex Stasi running it and so on. I don’t know what the truth was but it was certainly strange. We ended up having a party to raise money to pay the invigilators.

Just last week I heard about a guy who organized an artist residency in a former prison somewhere on the Continent.  The artists turned up, but he didn’t. I am not sure if £$ was involved, but apparently some people had come all the way from Japan and Latin America to participate in the ‘residency’.

How easy it is to prey on artists. Sometimes they prey on us just to make money, because they know we just want to get our work out there but some times they believe in their hearts that the festival or exhibition or what-not WILL take place – but of course they have neither the know-how, the resources nor the integrity to make it happen.

The best thing we can do is just to share the knowledge with one another, and be alert to things that might have a whiff of rot about them. But so much of what we do is based on trust.


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