Conero Film + Adv (CFA) is a brand new film festival that looks to celebrate the creative work being done by filmmakers in the realms of advertising and branded content. But that’s not all. Specifically, Conero Film + Adv is casting a particular gaze on work that engages with a sustainable ethos both in its subject matter and during its creation, looking at how filmmakers are making their productions as environmentally friendly as possible. The festival itself takes place from the 1st September – 3rd September against the gorgeous backdrop of Conero Natural Park in Marche, Italy and is scheduled to feature an impressive selection of work from filmmakers throughout the industry, including several filmmakers you’ll be familiar with from our pages. With the festival due to embark on its inaugural edition next week, DN spoke with Festival Director Mattia Fiumani about the creation of his event, the ideology behind it and the challenge of carving out a meaningful space in the crowded film festival landscape.
What sparked the desire to launch a festival with a focus on sustainability in the advertising world and why did you feel well placed to do so?
I wasn’t aware of any platforms or realities combining the independent and commercial film worlds, while at the same time providing a home for projects with a focus on sustainability. With Conero Film + Adv we are hoping to encourage a collaborative spirit between brands and filmmakers and nurture relationships with the potential to create meaningful and far-reaching audiovisual content. The festival was launched by Local Bizzarro, a collective of filmmakers I founded with the aim to create branded content with a deeper and more meaningful outlook. The sustainability aspect came in quite naturally, as we are based in Conero Park, a natural reserve in Italy, which also functions as the venue for the festival.
We are hoping to encourage a collaborative spirit between brands and filmmakers and nurture relationships with the potential to create meaningful and far-reaching audiovisual content.
The film festival landscape is obviously a crowded one, how do you look to navigate that challenge and build a rapport with submitters and partners?
First of all, we’d like our submitters and partners to get to know the festival with our first edition. We’d love for Conero Film + Adv to reflect the world that we live in, both in terms of the productions that form part of the official selection, as well as in terms of the types of creatives we are bringing together. The festival believes in the use of cinematic art as a means to inspire positive change, looking at the commercial world through a more ethical lens. As for partners, our objective is to create something with a positive impact for local businesses. We have received a lot of support locally from the Conero area, which truly makes the festival a community effort.
Similarly, how have you found the process of finding backers to financially support the festival?
Obviously by involving our personal contacts. But also by seizing a general determination and desire across the audiovisual sector and beyond to do things in a more sustainably conscious way. We are all aware of the challenges we are facing from a sustainability viewpoint; providing a platform where we can discuss these challenges and what we can do about them within our industry is something that people are eager to be a part of.
Why Conero Park as the location?
Conero is a well-preserved natural park. I feel that by spending a few days in this location, creatives will be given the opportunity to lose themselves in nature and let their minds wander, something we all need from time to time. Conero is still a relatively not-so-well-known location, at least internationally, so it’s important for us to do things gracefully and with respect to the space hosting us. This is the philosophy we felt was needed for an event like CFA.
The festival believes in the use of cinematic art as a means to inspire positive change, looking at the commercial world through a more ethical lens.
Could you take us through some of the jury members, who did you look to get involved and why?
We wanted to work with an international jury from a range of professional backgrounds, specifically advertising, fashion, music and shorts. I worked with Niccolò Montanari, founder of MontanairPR and Curation Hour, to help me source the creatives at the top of the game from these industries. We also wanted to make sure that we included people with a diverse range of skills, from production companies, agencies and cinematographers, to online platforms [including us here at Directors Notes], magazines and film festivals. Also, we wanted to make sure that those involved were aligned with the mission of the festival, for example, CANADA who have developed an internal green production protocol which will be presented at the festival.
How are you looking to promote CFA and bring in an audience which is a constant struggle for all festivals, never mind one in its launch year?
We are consistently sharing updates across our Instagram channel, but we are fully aware that the main challenge for the audience will probably be getting to the event. Personally, I think that in some ways that aligns with what we are building, as we are not looking for the festival to become a mass destination and we’d also like to encourage a slower pace, more in line with nature’s. We’d also like to let the event speak for itself; those who attend will form part of a well-informed audience able to return home with new knowledge and know-how to apply to future productions.
We primarily looked for projects where brands had given directors the opportunity to tell their thought-provoking stories.
When it comes to programming what are the particular kinds of films you’ll be screening?
In terms of advertising, we primarily looked for projects where brands had given directors the opportunity to tell their thought-provoking stories. Sustainability for us also refers to our unique ability to tell stories, which is what makes us human. On the other hand, when it comes to unbranded, independent production, we were also looking for an interesting perspective on the creative process and environmental issues. The reason we decided to shift the focus slightly with brands is because we are very aware of the dangers of greenwashing, so the last thing we wanted to do is programme “sustainable” advertising content from blatantly unsustainable brands.
Aside from films, what else can audience members expect from Conero Film + Adv?
As a first edition, we wanted to keep it short and sweet. Guests will arrive on September 1st, with the full programme taking place on September 2nd. On that day you can expect talks and panels by the likes of Prettybird and Anomaly, winners screenings and outdoor networking opportunities in the wonderful Conero Park. The full programme is online, but to attend guests do have to let us know in advance: https://www.localbizzarro.com/cfa-en
And lastly, what is your long-term vision for the festival? How do you plan to push forward with CFA’s missions outside of the event itself?
The long-term vision for the festival is definitely to create a space of dialogue and a point of reference for creatives and production companies wishing to be more mindful in the way they create content. That could take shape through residencies or workshops throughout the year, for example. As a collective and a production company we hope to see Conero become a research hub for green production and a location for experimental filmmaking.