Preparing for a new edition of the Tampere Film Festival. An interview with Jukka-Pekka Laakso.

Tampere is the oldest short film festival in Europe. What was the most fascinating moment of the past 44 years?

It probably was the first film screened at the very first festival. Personally, it is really hard to say. There is no one moment I would pick over others. Although last year, Ferenc Cakó showed us live how he makes sand animations. Now that was a special moment.

Tampere, Oberhausen and Clermont-Ferrand are the three most important short film festivals in Europe. How does the Tampere Film Fest stand out?

We all have different approaches to short films. I think in Tampere, we rely on the traditions of cinema when it comes to aesthetics and we seek films that speak about important issues. We are more documentary oriented.

The Tampere short film fest is the meeting point for international filmmakers and also a traditional local event. What is your relationship with the city and the locals?  

In short: good. We have a fine local audience and the City of Tampere supports us not just financially, but also by mentioning us as one of the city’s main cultural assets.

Tampere is about young, up-and-coming filmmakers, thus it attracts a large young audience. How can you reinvent the festival from time to time?

Sometimes I think that we do not renew the festival. The filmmakers do that for us. The art of cinema, or at least short films, is capable of producing new and interesting stuff, more that we can screen in five days.

Every year, you have two competitions: national and international. What special programme will you have this year?

Philippines is the country in focus. Then we have female documentary filmmakers, two young Swedish filmmakers on small retrospectives, Polish animation films and so on.

You have also been organising a Film market since 1992 – what are the results of it and what is the feedback from the short film industry?  

For professionals, it is important to have access to all the films sent to competition. The chance for them to meet filmmakers is what makes Tampere valuable for professionals. In our opinion, a Film market is what every real film festival should provide.

You will have a special screening of The Circus. What is your special connection to Chaplin?

Nothing special really, but Chaplin is such a big icon in the history of cinema. It is also a  good way to remind people of one of our messages: Good films are good even when they are old, and the history of cinema is not appreciated enough.

Your main prize nominates the short films to EFA and the Academy Awards. Do you feel your power when you are selecting the competition or when you decide about the winner?

We feel the responsibility, not the power. But when we do the selection, we do not care about prizes or nominations. We select films that are good enough to be in the competition and try to make sure that the selection reflects the world that we live in, the whole world, not just our eurocentric one.  And of course we try to present different ways of filmmaking. Then it is up to the Jury to decide.

text: Anita Libor
image: Cristina Grosan