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AL ESTE 2019

David Duponchel • Director, Al Este Film Festival, Lima

"The main objective is to keep putting on the festival and continue to grow as we have done so far"

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- We met up with David Duponchel, director of the Al Este Central and Eastern European Film Festival, to take stock of the first decade of the gathering’s existence

David Duponchel  • Director, Al Este Film Festival, Lima

After training at the prestigious FAMU in Prague, David Duponchel decided to share his passion for films made in Central and Eastern Europe by creating the A l'Est, du Nouveau festival in his native France. As time went on, he would end up crossing the Atlantic to press on with his mission of circulating these movies in countries such as Argentina, Colombia and Peru. We met up with him to talk about the Al Este Festival in Lima, its tenth birthday and what the future holds for the gathering.

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Cineuropa: How did the idea of organising a festival for Central and Eastern European film in Latin America come up?
David Duponchel:
I began in France 15 years ago with a festival called A l'Est, du Nouveau. I wanted to help spread the film output from Central and Eastern Europe, which, at the time, was not really very well represented in France. I studied at FAMU in Prague and I had access to the film library. It was there that I came across auteurs such as Kieślowski, Milos Forman, Otakar Vávra and countless others. The first edition was held in 2002 – that’s when it was created. When I arrived in Peru, I saw that there was not much on offer on the movie listings besides Hollywood flicks, so I resolved to do something about it.

What were the baby steps of the Peruvian festival like?
I was lucky enough to find people who were working in advertising and who were fed up of seeing the same old thing all the time. The festival was created with their help, as the marketing really helped to position the event and young people welcomed us enthusiastically. The first few years coincided with the boom in Romanian comedies, and movies such as Silent Wedding [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
and California Dreamin’ (Endless) [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
were a big hit with the audience.

The festival has opened up to Colombia and Argentina in the last few years; what was this expansion process like?
We had Argentinian volunteers at the festival who told me that we had to attempt something there. We started off in Córdoba and had a low-key opening in Buenos Aires. It worked very well for us for the first few years, and we’re already getting set for the seventh edition.

Over the years, you’ve had some pretty high-profile guests. How do you manage to attract such prestigious filmmakers to such a young festival?
Yes, we’ve had guests of the likes of Béla Tarr, Sharunas Bartas and Paweł Pawlikowski. I think we’re lucky that, for these filmmakers, coming to Peru is a very attractive prospect because it’s almost like visiting another world. A lot of people used to ask me, “What’s this lunatic doing organising a festival like this in Lima?” And little by little, we are seeing that there are many things that we can do. We’ve moved on from straightforward exhibition to supporting creation with our laboratory, and my idea is to continue in the same vein. We are independent and we need to work hard, but we have no intention of stopping.

How would you summarise your experience of the first co-production lab, which was organised this year?
What I see when I look at this co-production lab is that there are many things that can be done. For me, that is essential – not just sticking to exhibition, but trying to go beyond that. Today, the laboratory is a space where we can foster production. In the next ten years, the idea we have at the festival is to really grow this section, as now that we’ve already managed to establish ourselves as a tool for circulating films in Peru, our ambition is to become creators. We are aware of our limitations but also our strengths – we work with professionals from Peru, Colombia, Argentina and so on. And together we have countless opportunities for collaboration.

How do you see the future of the festival in the next ten years?
Ten years of existence is already quite an achievement. The main objective is to keep putting on the festival and continue to grow as we have done so far. We are able to rely on the support of Promperú, universities, DAFO [the Peruvian Directorate of Audiovisual, Phonography and New Media] and the Ministry of Tourism’s Film Commission. The support from the commission is vital because Peru is increasingly aware of how important film is for economic development; they are making a huge effort to attract shoots to this country, with its enormous wealth of landscapes. They are doing so through 18% tax incentives or through providing consultancy services that can prove very useful for foreign producers. This interest is fundamental in bolstering the national film industry, and that can only be a good thing for our festival.

(Translated from Spanish)

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