– Just before the start of the 20th edition of the gathering in the Andalusian city, we spoke to this award-winning producer and former advisor to the Community of Madrid who is coordinating it
Manuel Cristóbal (Madrid, 1969) took over the reins of the 20th Seville European Film Festival a few months ago, after its new director, Tito Rodriguez, took medical leave and who was appointed after the departure of José Luis Cienfuegos, now in charge of Seminci. Just a few days before the start of an event that has changed dates (from the beginning to the end of November: taking place from 23-29 November), he shares with us a few glimpses of an edition that is eagerly awaited.
Cineuropa: How is the festival team doing a few days before the festival starts?
Manuel Cristóbal: We’re happy with the way things are going. We have a fantastic team and that is appreciated.
Is it a new team or are some of the members veterans of the festival?
Some people went with Cienfuegos to Valladolid, but we have people who worked in the previous edition or in some previous editions in Seville: a team quite used to the festival.
This year the festival has a new screening space (the revamped Cervantes theatre) and it will not be competitive. Any other changes?
No, it is basically a matter of fulfilling the commitment made to the industry to carry it out in November and once it is over, to reflect on the future… and to celebrate its 20 years.
Why is there no jury in this edition, and therefore no awards?
Because, due to the dates, we saw that it was an additional difficulty that, if it could not be done well, it would be better to leave it for next year.
European cinema continues to dominate the festival, but Andalusian cinema is gaining more and more presence.
Yes, when you hold a festival in a city that is the capital of Andalusia you have to show respect for it and give a platform to the audiovisuals that are made here. And there were quite a few interesting works.
You are a part of this Andalusian industry, as an award-winning producer of films such as Wrinkles [+see also:
interview: Ignacio Ferreras
interview: Ignacio Ferreras
film profile]. Does this help to organise a festival? And is producing similar to coordinating a film event?
Absolutely, producing is about making decisions knowing the resources and time you have. I worked for almost three years in the Consejería de Cultura, where I worked with Ruperto Merino, who was one of the people in charge of cultural programming in the Madrid region, and who is now in charge of cultural programming in Seville City Council. He was the person who called me to take on this challenge. It has also been possible to hold the festival because the programme was well advanced and together with Antonio Navarro we have just finished polishing it up.
Talking about the programme, any titles or recommendations that you are particularly excited about being screened in Seville?
I’m excited that the selection has been received very positively. At first, there were no short films and, in the end, there will be some. I’m also excited that there are films set in Seville, one of which was even shot during the festival in a previous edition: Fueron los días, directed by Sebastián Bulnes.
And are there any parallel activities that stand out for their importance or characteristics?
We have the presentation of a report on where independent production is heading in Europe: Thomas Eskilson, director of Film i Väst Analysis, will present for the first time in Spain All that is solid melts into air: Public Film Funding at a Crossroads II, presented at the last edition of the Venice Film Festival. I am also excited about the Robot Dreams [+see also:
film profile] exhibition at the Seville City Hall, where José Luis Ágreda, the film’s artistic director, is from. This is one example of promoting Andalusian talent.
Apart from this presence, are there any other guests who will enhance the festival?
This year we have Catherine Breillat as a guest in the Essential Voices section, a pioneering French director when there were not so many female filmmakers. Also, Carlota Pereda and other guests to be announced soon.
Will the festival return to its original dates next year or stick with its current dates?
Yes, 8 to 16 November 2024. For the moment, my contract is only for this year, so Tito Rodríguez, if he recovers from his medical leave, would be in charge next year.
Finally, with the festival approaching, any advice or recommendations, especially to the public, about the festival?
I appreciate being surprised in a cinema more and more. In the programme we have brought cinema for everyone and it’s good to be surprised.
(Translated from Spanish by Vicky York)