When I arrived at the Geo Open Space in Bali for the opening event of Minikino Film Week (MFW) 8, I was a bit uneasy because I was heading into the event alone. As project coordinator for EngageMedia’s Video for Change initiatives, I had been corresponding with several filmmakers and film groups, but most of these interactions were online. I didn’t know anyone coming into Minikino Film Week, but as soon as I approached the registration booth, the staff already made me feel welcome as a part of their community.
Building this sense of solidarity with filmmakers and audiences has always been central to the MFW, which is now on its eighth edition of promoting the cinema culture in Bali. Also known as the Bali International Short Film Festival, the annual event showcases an international selection of films and hosts several sub-events, such as exhibitions, talks, seminars, workshops, and local screenings in pop-up cinemas across Bali.
According to Festival Director Edo Wulia, Minikino has always been a physical festival, as they believe that physical connections and forming strong bonds can never be replaced by online interactions. This year’s event, held from September 2 to 10, was the first big gathering since the height of the pandemic that included international guests and filmmakers.
Building connections for stronger collaborations
With its strong emphasis on community-building, Minikino Film Week is a good opportunity to meet established and emerging filmmakers from around the globe, along with international and local film producers, critics, and writers. After more than a year of corresponding with filmmakers and video for change practitioners online for EngageMedia and Cinemata, I was looking forward to putting faces to names.
After going around the various sub-events, I spoke to several filmmakers about their experiences attending the event and meeting their peers in person – many for the first time. Exsell Naufal from Tangerang, Indonesia, whose film Luckiest Man on Earth was part of the MFW official selection, shared that he appreciated the opportunity for potential collaborations. “Attending a festival not only brings filmmakers and their audiences together, but [it] can also be used to network and meet fellow filmmakers, allowing collaboration to occur”, he said.
South Korean filmmaker Sinn Kirin, who premiered her short film Abnormal Prime Time during the festival, said the event was helpful for her to meet local filmmakers and get advice for her next project which will be based in Indonesia.
It was also her first time attending a film festival. “I was very happy. It was so nice to be able to meet many filmmakers in one place”, she shared.
At the festival, I introduced Cinemata, an open-source video platform for social and environmental films about the Asia-Pacific developed by EngageMedia. Many of the filmmakers were curious about the platform, as most of them have been using Big Tech video platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo. I shared how Cinemata was developed with filmmakers’ needs in mind, and that the platform is continuously updated with new features such as password protection and better site navigation.
During the festival, I also took the opportunity to meet with Cinemata partner Akbar Rafsanjani, Festival Director of Aceh Film Festival and a jury board for Minikino Film Week. After several online meetings with him before, it was nice to finally meet him in person. Our meeting sparked more collaborations, resulting in EngageMedia’s Tech Tales digital rights film collection screening during the regional festival in Aceh.
‘Speed dating’ with filmmakers
To further create more opportunities for collaboration, the festival held a short film market where filmmakers pitched their films ‘speed dating’ style to decision makers – festival directors, writers, and social impact video makers – and explore possibilities with their films. Joining the event to provide advice were Jaime E. Manrique, director of the Bogota Short Film Festival, Clarissa Jacobson, author of the book “I made a short film, now WTF do I do with it,” Leong Puiyee of Objectifs Centre for Photography and Film, Gugi Gumilang, director of Indonesia-based In-Docs, and myself representing EngageMedia.
It was challenging because we only had 10 minutes to speak with a filmmaker before moving on to the next person, so the discussions had to be quick but intentional. But it was also inspiring to meet many talented people in such a short span of time.
Brahmantyo Putra, a filmmaker from Indonesia, told me about his interest in impact production and recognised the need for more knowledge and practical strategies in maximising the impact of a film after it’s produced.
“As a documentary filmmaker, I feel that there’s a lack of awareness on what to do [with] a film after it is made. I’ve seen [that] some of the films I made for NGOs and clients are published on YouTube, and there aren’t any clear campaign goals,” he shared.
Despite all the socially-relevant films being produced in Southeast Asia, the practice itself is still in its infancy in the region and impact production often remains an afterthought. Brahmantyo feels that “impact production is a very new field [and] people are still struggling to grasp and quantify the results of an impact campaign.”
I took the opportunity to share the Video for Change Impact Toolkit, a resource produced by EngageMedia in partnership with the Video4Change Network to help filmmakers design for and evaluate social impact. The toolkit is grounded on the principle that advancing positive social change and creating impact is the result of taking a pathway, and does not simply arise from creating a product or working toward one end goal.
Time well spent
Physical gatherings like the Minikino Film Week not only allow filmmakers from around the globe to meet new people and forge new collaborations, but also connect with them in different ways – may it be through drinks, karaoke, watching films under the night sky, or simply walking together to various events.
I arrived in Minikino without knowing anyone and left with beautiful memories and newfound friends. It was great to spend time with the Minikino community and discuss filmmaking and impact production, and to simply talk about life, even in its absurdity, much like in films.
‘Til next time, Minikino!