Speaking with founder and director of International Documentary Festival Visioni Dal Mondo, Francesco Bizzarri highlights personal experience, empathy and the importance of putting your feet in someone else’s shoes
Education often comes to us in forms we do not look for. Perhaps watching a TV show or reading a novel can trigger certain behavioral changes or modify our ways of thinking. Impact documentaries are often made with the objective of opening our eyes, ears, and minds to issues, experiences, and events that we are not even aware are happening in the world. Impact documentaries, such as the ones being shown at Visioni dal Mondo are portals of empathy in terms of seeing certain situations through the eyes of others. Which is why film festivals should exist.
In today’s society, generations are being challenged every day by what is happening in the world, on the news. What we have been taught is wrong and is right. Everything is up for debate. The world changes, and becomes a different place from what our parents and grandparents grew up in.
How do we form our opinions, consolidate our views, and dignify our choices? Knowledge, education, and experience.
Francesco Bizzarri – president of International Documentary Festival Visioni dal Mondo Festival – the values of documentary
Speaking with the festival’s president Francesco Bizzarri, there is always more than meets the eye when organizing festivals, especially ones with emotional backgrounds. Out of the ordinary challenges are to be expected. Paying attention to cultural backgrounds and values is the key, according to Mr. Bizzarri: «When organizing an international festival, you always have to consider different cultures and different habits. The second thing that not many people might think about is that being an international festival implies that there are different time zones we work with. We are partners with a festival in Israel: CoPro – The israeli Coproduction Market, which happens to have many hours difference. Matching the different habits of populations and cultures is something that must be always taken into consideration».
Being cautious of culture and values is indeed needed to be looked at today, as we’re living in a more inclusive, yet exclusive world as ever before. Living in a post-Covid society with more digital access, the physical process of leaving the comfort of your home to watch a movie can be more daunting than attractive for some, others the opposite. Visioni dal Mondo has to think of innovative reasons for people to gravitate towards the big screen. Bigger than the ones in the living room.
The consequences of Covid-19 on live shows and entertainment
«Engagement through emotion is not a feeling you can get online. I think that especially today, with this overabundance of online programs. I can tell you by experience that in the past years from the digitalization due to Covid-19, the attention of the people is much, much less», states Mr. Bizzarri.
«A few years ago, there was an excitement over the possibility and convenience of being at home and having access to everything from all over the world while sitting, which certainly is an advantage. But people have now had enough. Going to the theatre in person is still exciting, especially in this case with the presence of directors from all over the world. They have the chance to present their film to the public, to have interactive conversations. And this – this real engagement that is created –is something you cannot get online».
Visioni dal Mondo is about inclusivity: preconceived motions can be challenged, and a new reflection can be shared
A pillar of Visioni dal Mondo is inclusivity, and bringing different people together to experience the stories of others. Doing so in a sensitive way can be tricky. «Our festival shows impactful documentaries that tell a story. The objective of watching such a film is to leave the theater with an emotion, a memory that has the potential to activate change. That can be to protect nature, to have sustainable development, to help minorities and to understand and support genders. What I say is that when you watch fiction, it’s entertaining. A few hours go by and you feel relaxed, but in a week’s time, you don’t remember anything from it. When you come to Visioni Dal Mondo and sit down to watch a documentary, you go out with something that remains in yourself and that can push you to do something better».
With a Seagull as the mascot of Visioni dal Mondo, the bird looks down from above when approaching slowly and dives deep, traveling to different lands and telling stories of the world. This is an ethos that many independent producers and directors aim to tell with the mindset of being more knowledgeable and conscious. The storytelling of a different reality through documentaries allows consciences to be affected and habits to be changed. Preconceived motions can be challenged, and a new reflection can be shared. The function of documentaries has to be stressed today, in a world of greater conflicts, either political or economic.
Education and positive change as main vision of the Festival
One of the main themes of Visioni dal Mondo is education. «If someone is not educated in the broader term, then it’s difficult to change with both their culture and way of thinking. What’s happening worldwide is what is being shown, in a way that is very different from what is being displayed on the news». The encouragement of an emotionally intelligent impact is displayed throughout the festival. As described by Mr. Bizzarri, «People should leave the theater with values and knowledge that they didn’t have before entering. Even experiencing a new emotion is something, it will change behavior in a positive way».
Positive change seems to be the goal for visitors of the festival. More knowledge is equal to more consciousness. Adding an extra layer of thought to each important decision that is faced throughout a lifetime.
The connection between the Festival and the filmmakers is also a relationship that must be cultivated. Hosting an interactive experience is often what breaks the ice and what creates a difference while hosting an in-person event. Guests can ask questions, start conversations and feel like they are part of something bigger. Conversations are encouraged and hosted at Visioni Dal Mondo, bringing light to the well-known saying ‘knowledge is power’.
The creation of debates and discussion: relationship as the driving force of change
«The commissioning editor, broadcaster and distributor are all part of the world around the festival. Apart from the producer and the filmmaker, a connection of the movie with the surrounding world is emphasized. Relationships and reputations can always change people’s minds in both ways».
Where personal and professional relationships meet, an executive committee select the lineup of films for the festival. With many opinions coming into play in creating the ultimate selection, a balance between opinion and objectivity is found. «At the end, the group of titles that we show at the festival always comes out in a positive way. There is discussion, everyone has their own opinions, but the criteria to look after is understood. Mistakes are a minority, not a majority. Our audience is passionate, active and engaged, but it’s not necessarily an audience that comes from the nonprofit sector. This allows the festival to further educate people on topics they aren’t experts on».
The next step for Visioni Dal Mondo is organic growth. As the festival is not for profit, the next wish is to grow further to a profitable sector. «Culture is in one spot and capital is in another, these things should go together to benefit both ends. When speaking about missions and goals they can be easily reached together with real values and stories that should be told».
International Documentary Festival Visioni dal Mondo
Taking place in Milano from the fifteenth to the eighteenth of September 2022, the eighth edition of Visioni dal Mondo Festival will showcase thirty-six films from both Italy and across the world. This year’s theme in the cinema of reality is ‘Più conoscenza. Più coscienza.’ (More knowledge. More consciousness.) which will be accompanied with a special guest visit from Domenico Procacci as the guest of honor.
With passion shown by the festival’s founder and director Francesco Bizzarri, movie festivals can contribute in pushing society towards education, exploration and curiosity, providing a personal look at world issues through the lenses of others.