Cinema above the clouds

Interview with Kathryn Perrotti on the film festival Kitzbühel

‘Dim the lights, start the movie!’ will once more be the motto at Kitzbühel’s fourth edition of the film festival. For seven days in August the mundane alpine destination will again turn into a hotspot for the international movie scene. Different locations such as Europe’s highest-situated movie theatre up on Kitzbüheler Horn will host films by young filmmakers to be marvelled at and discussed. Together with La Loupe, founding member Kathryn Perrotti took a peek behind the scenes of the film festival and explained a special feature of film festival Kitzbühel: the script retreat. 

Kathryn Perrotti
Kathryn Perrotti

L.L.

Kitzbühel’s wonderful landscape is a very popular motive for national and international film productions. Why do you think it is so attractive for filmmakers? 

K.P.

Tyrol and Kitzbühel have a long history when it comes to filmmaking. For more than 100 years the place has been luring filmmakers to the region. I think that national and international directors, producers and film teams are very comfortable here because they get professional support. The landscape in and around Kitzbühel is very romantic, mystical and offers breathtaking panoramic views.

L.L.

The film festival Kitzbühel saw its first edition in 2012. What was the idea behind this cultural initiative and which founding members were involved in its realisation? 

K.P.

The FFKB team (Michi, Mike, Nina, Josef, Roman and myself) first got together in 2012. For us it was a logical consequence of the fact that Kitzbühel is not just a city of sports and tourism but also has a significant past in the world of film. Films like ‘Downhill Racer’ with Robert Redford, works by Luchino Visconti as well as other films on Kitzbühel’s legend Toni Sailer were shot here.

So this is how the idea of inviting international filmmakers to come here and realise this project together with young talents, the city of Kitzbühel, and the region came about.

L.L.

What is the difference between the film festival Kitzbühel and other similar festivals? 

K.P.

Well firstly we have the goal of making films known and creating a platform for filmmakers. At FFKB the focus lies primarily on upcoming filmmakers, whose films are often difficult to come by, and present them to an audience. We also give international directors and producers the opportunity to network and exchange ideas during the festival. 

FFKB Team
FFKB Team

L.L.

This is the fourth time the festival is dedicated to the young film scene and it promotes national and international talents. Why is this focus so important to you? 

K.P.

It is important to us because it’s most difficult for the ‘young ones’. Getting from an idea for a film to its realisation and financing is a very stony path. When a film is finished it may well be that up until that point young filmmakers really have given all they have: their time, their lifeblood and their savings. But nobody has seen the film yet. So we want to give them a little bit of support in two areas: firstly, the films will be presented to an audience and a top-notch jury and secondly, we help them turn their ideas into scripts or work on existing scripts to prepare the authors for the national and international film market. 

L.L.

Are there certain guidelines the filmmakers have to observe? What aspects are important to the jury? 

K.P.

It has always been our motto that filmmakers do not have to adhere to any guidelines. But of course we look for exciting ideas for the competition where the budding filmmakers’ innovative power is noticeable. 

La Loupe Filmfestival Kitzbuehel1

L.L.

In the past years your jury always had very prominent members. Last year, for example, screenwriter Julian Pölsler (The Wall) was one of the jury members. What will the jury look like in 2016? 

K.P.

This year the competing films will once more have to face a first-class jury. We can look forward to Gabriele Kranzelbinder, Georges Luks, Danny Krausz, Nicole Beutler, Konstanze Breitenebner and Peter Patzak. 

La Loupe Filmfestival Kitzbuehel9

L.L.

How many films will take part in the competition? Do you have information on the programme yet? 

K.P.

In the past years we had about 30 films in the competition and a total of about 70 films that were shown in the four locations throughout the festival week. I think that this year we can look forward to seeing a few more films in the competition because we received 750 submissions.

But aside from the competition there are quite a few things to look forward to: the different open air cinemas will definitely be a highlight. We are also looking forward to the drive-in cinema on August 25 and 26 and to Kino am Berg (cinema on the mountain, August 26) in Europe’s highest-situated movie theatre up on Kitzbüheler Horn. This year’s retrospective is dedicated to Sir Peter Ustinov and we will host the final evening of the festival together with his foundation, the Sir Peter Ustinov Foundation. The Austrian actor and singer Nicole Beutler will entertain our guests during a wonderful chanson evening on August 24. This year’s reading with Peter Weck will take place at Rasmushof on August 25. The final programme with all the films can be found online on www.ffkb.at from the end of July. 

L.L.

And there will be awards in which categories? 

K.P.

The winners of the awards for best feature film, best documentary and best short film will be decided on by the jury. The association of the friends of the film festival Kitzbühel awards the prize for the Austrian newcoming film and the audience will once more get the chance to vote for its favourite film. What is new this season is that there will be a prize for Best Winter Sport Short (WSS) which will be awarded by a great jury from the sport film and freeride scene. 

L.L.

In Kitzbühel sport is ubiquitous – that also goes for the festival. Numerous pro athletes attend and several films also deal with the topic. Why is sport such an interesting topic, particularly for films? 

K.P.

I think that the audience loves the mixture of adrenaline, endurance and freedom. You get a brief chance to delve into a world, a microcosm where you can feel pure life up close. Two years ago, for example, ‘Attention – A Life in Extremes’ by Sascha Köllnreitner which we showed up on the Horn was a great success, as was last year’s opening film ‘The Search for Freedom’. 

La Loupe Filmfestival Kitzbuehel4

L.L.

In the past the film festival Kitzbühel has hosted screenings in the summit station on Kitzbüheler Horn and in an open air drive-in cinema. Will there be any surprises in this area in 2016?

K.P.

Seeing as the cinema on the mountain and the FFKB drive-in cinema were so successful we are going to do that again. Both programme points were very popular with the audience. Of course we also try to develop both events further. In that sense there will be food trucks taking care of the audience at the drive-in cinema this year. And DJs will accompany the sunset until the films start at 8pm – both at the cinema on the mountain and on the Hahnenkamm parking lot. 

L.L.

Something that makes the film festival Kitzbühel special is the ‘script retreat’. What exactly is that? 

K.P.

The script retreat (German: Drehbuchklausur or DBK) is an FFKB-initiative that supports the promotion of young filmmakers. This is the third time that young filmmakers are invited to Kitzbühel for an intense three-week work and writing retreat. One of the main goals of DBK is to encourage authors and to provide them with a repertoire of useful tools. We want to help them tell their stories in a thrilling way and thus also promote the success of the Austrian and German-speaking film scene. Throughout the retreat they will be accompanied by experts and professionals coming from the national and international film scene. Some points that will be focused on will be the development of the characters, dramatic composition, dialogues but also the preparation of their loglines, the synopsis, and pitching and cross-media potential. 

L.L.

The festival’s framework programme involves the audience and offers space for stimulating discussions. Are there concrete plans for this yet? 

K.P.

After every film there will be the possibility to talk to the filmmakers and ask them questions on their films right there. These rounds of questions are very well received by the audience. How often do you get the opportunity to learn background information on films and to get to meet the directors, protagonists and producers? Because FFKB is a very informal festival, the festival week often offers opportunities to seek the dialogue with the filmmakers in a relaxed atmosphere. 

L.L.

Video-on-demand portals are very popular at the moment. Films are increasingly streamed at home. Would you say that cinema still has a future? 

K.P.

I think that those are two very different experiences. At the cinema I consciously take the time to watch a film and I engage with it, I’m not distracted and get to delve into a different world altogether. There is a huge screen in front of me and the sound completely envelops me. That is something one can only replicate in one’s home with a lot of effort. Many films are only made for the big screen and they feel much less intense as a TV film. So I don’t think people will want to renounce to that experience in the future. 

La Loupe Filmfestival Kitzbuehel3

Wordrap with Kathryn Perrotti

My tip for young filmmakers...

stay focused.

Popcorn in the movie theatre…

not so bad.

For me the best filmmaker is…

at the moment - Sylvain Chomet.

For me film means…

a fusion of all arts.

Blockbuster or independent film?

Indie.

Open-air cinema…

pure nostalgia.