Flying Film Festival—Meet the Filmmakers Behind It

Swiss International Airlines' Flying Film Festival caught the attention of Picture this Post in a big way.  A cool idea--- it is exposing passengers on long haul flights to short films that they might not otherwise see.  Read Picture this Post reviews of the fascinating 2017 Flying Film Festival shorts films here.

Wanting to know more about this unique festival, Picture this Post interviewed Francesca Scalisi about the festival and more about her company's films too.

Mark Olexa and Francesca Scalisi of DOK MOBILE
Half Life in Fukushima, a film by DOK MOBILE

Please tell our readers about your background  Do you work as a team on filmmaking as well as the festival?

We are two filmmakers based in Switzerland, where we’ve created our own film production company DOK MOBILE.

DOK MOBILE produces creative documentaries and fiction films. Our last film “Half-life in Fukushima” was shot in 16mm in the contaminated red zone of Fukushima, Japan, where a man decided to stay alone to fight against nuclear power plants.

We also produced two short documentaries shot in Bangladesh “Moriom” a journey into the mind of a traumatised young Bengali woman and “Black line” a lyrical and critical look at an environmental tragedy in Sundarban, the largest mangrove forest in the world.

Now we are working on a short fiction called “Hedgehogs”. The film follows the delicate relationship between a father and his adolescent daughter who are also respectively trainer and trainee.

In the last three years, with the support of Swiss International Airlines, in collaboration with our colleague Dunja Keller, we have been working on the Flying Film Festival. A festival held in the air dedicated to short documentaries and docu-animations.  Passengers flying on long-haul flights will be able to enjoy the Festival’s selection of films in addition to the regular entertainment offered on board.

The festival is an opportunity for filmmakers to showcase their films to a wider audience, and for passengers to discover some gems of the genre which are otherwise hard to come by on mainstream platforms.

What gave you the idea for the Flying Film Festival?

The idea was born on one of those interminable flights where, having read every available magazine and having also watched all of the newest movies, the only thing left is to plunge deep within ones thoughts.

That was also the time when we were looking for a new way to widen the audience for documentary films beyond that of festivals and professionals. Organising the first flying festival in the world and giving long-haul flights passengers the opportunity to enjoy a selection of short documentaries felt like a unique opportunity.

Who were the winners of the last Flying Film Festival competition?

The winner of the last edition was “Nos jours absolument doivent-etre illumines” by Jean Gabriel Périot, a true masterpiece that delicately transforms itself into an impetuous force. It’s the 28 May 2011, inmates are singing inside a prison; neither the camera nor the eyes have access to it. On the other side of the wall, people are listening. Carried away by the music, the faces of the listeners who come for the occasion are illuminated and deliver many possible stories to the camera. On the one hand, the voices; on the other, the faces. Between the two, emotions are drawn.

  How many submissions did you get for this years festival?

Although we are a young festival (this is the second year for the Flying), we received around 100 submissions from all over the world. Of these 100, we selected 10 films for the competition.

Do you have any anecdotes of feedback from the passengers of SWISS who were exposed to the Flying Film Festival?

For the first edition of the Flying Film Festival we had such a positive response from the audience of SWISS that we decided to repeat this experience this year. We believe that the second edition of the festival will increase our audience even further.

Do you make docu-animations?  How would you define this genre? 

No, we never made any docu-animations but we would love to! As the name suggests, it is a hybrid between documentary and animation. Docu-animations are based on real interviews but often images of these interviews are substituted with animations based on the narrative thread that the story follows.

What other comments do you have for readers of Picture this Post about this festival, short documentaries and /or docu-animations?

For next year we invite more and more filmmakers to send their short documentary or docu-animations and to have the chance to be rewarded with the jury prize (two round-trip tickets within any European destination or one round-trip ticket to any worldwide destination served by SWISS) and with CinéBrunch Regards d’Ailleurs award (CHF 500.-).

I just would like to add a quick thought about the condition in which we are living.

Nowadays culture is often regarded by governments as something not valuable or not necessary for human beings. Thus support to culture and people who create culture is always one of the first things that is cut off of state budgets.

But culture is food for the soul. Without culture we can not live.

In this critical historical moment it is fundamental to fight and support the recognition of culture as common good and as element of growth for the country as a whole.


Photos courtesy of Flying Film Festival.

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