IberoDocs: Ibero-American Film Festival in Scotland launches its 8th edition, entirely online
And you can see some of the films if you are based in Portugal, Spain and Latin-America too!
WomenBeing spoke with Mar Felices, the festival’s director, about the work they have been doing to share the rich Ibero-American culture with Scotland in the year in which the festival has taken a big step by celebrating its entirety online. This switch has made it possible to reach audiences not only throughout the rest of the UK and Ireland, but also in Latin-America, Portugal and Spain, it has also allowed for the creation of new and important accessibility features.
Picture by Tomáš Vostrejž @vostrejtom
Why a documentary film festival?
I think that documentary film is a tool for social change. It not only entertains the audience, but also has the power for the audience to identify themselves with the characters in the film because they are real people. This makes the relatability potential for the audience much stronger, and they can also better understand the problems or situations that the people portrayed in the film have been through.
The main mission of IberoDocs is the integration of the Ibero-American community into Scotland and the UK. The festival allows the locals to get closer to Ibero-American culture, to understand the character of Ibero-American people, and the different realities that exist within. It allows us to get to know each other a bit more and to break cultural barriers.
“Documentary is a very powerful way to change reality… Like journalism, art and other human means of expression, it influences human lives… They’re great tools for our society”
Carmen Aristegui, Mexican Journalist
And how do you feel about this 8th edition of the festival?
In 2021, the team changed the format of the festival. Instead of an onsite event, this edition is hosted completely online. The change to a new digital format shifted the focus, making the strengthening of the event’s visual identity a priority. We dropped the static poster and created a dynamic poster, we also invested in strengthening our online presence, with a more powerful and wider social media strategy.
Did this allow IberoDocs to contribute to environmental sustainability?
Yes, in 2021 we’re celebrating our 8th edition with an eco-twist. Instead of printing flyers, this year we thought of a different initiative: Plant it – grow it – share it! We have shared cards full of seeds that grow into many different varieties of flowers. The cards couldn’t be more sustainable – 100% post-industrial recycled paper dyed with all-natural, vegetable-based pigments, in corn-based packaging and made in a solar powered production facility.
What about any difficulties that you’ve had this year?
Well, in terms of difficulties, private sponsorship has been limited this year because most companies in the hospitality sector are suffering incredible losses due to the pandemic. However, we overcame this thanks to the increase in support from public funders, which has helped to balance our budget and made it possible for us to host this 8th edition.
Did the current pandemic affect the festival in any other ways?
Well, it has affected the programme too. This year the theme is “Art as a need”, while in other years, the festival’s focus was on topics related to culture integration and migration. The festival still pushes for cultural integration, but from a more artistic point of view. This is because of how vulnerable the arts sector is currently and the difficulties that culture is facing due to COVID-19. Art is important for our mental health, and everyone has been affected because this industry hasn’t been a priority for our governments.
We’ve noticed that this edition also has important accessibility credentials. Can you speak about that?
Yes, that’s another important feat we have achieved this year. By hosting the festival online, we have managed to cross many geographical barriers. In this 8th edition, the festival can be seen in places other than Edinburgh and Glasgow, even in the whole of the UK, Ireland, and also Spain, Portugal and Latin-America. An important achievement that we are proud of are the new accessibility features of the festival, which allow people with disabilities to attend from their homes. Also, people with hearing impairments will be able to enjoy the films with closed captions, and in the case of the opening film of the festival, Maricarmen, it has been audio described too. These efforts have improved the accessibility of the festival, which is something more difficult to achieve when you host an onsite only event.
This festival was born from the need to watch documentary films in different languages. When we started in 2013, there weren’t any other festivals of Spanish, Portuguese or Latin-American culture, and the main language heard in Cinemas was English. Having subtitles also helps people who don’t speak English very well yet, to understand the documentaries. These accessibility measures are not only important for the visually or hearing-impaired community, but for so many of us.
You also speak about challenging stereotypes around artists in this 8th edition. Can you tell me a bit more about that?
Our main programme challenges society’s stereotypes around artists by helping to redefine their portrayal. Among others, we chose to showcase documentaries that will have audiences following the journey of, for example, a 94-year-old kinetic artist as he tirelessly pursues his dream project; a blind cellist and music teacher as she fearlessly navigates life; or a musician as he experiments art using a childlike playful approach. Especially because of the pandemic, we wanted to remind people that the arts are universal, they know no boundaries and that everyone can be creative and artistic.