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ASIFA's Next Step: A Continuation of the History of ASIFA's Patronage of Festivals

Michel Ocelot relates the latest ASIFA International developments regarding ASIFA's new relationship to festivals.

June 1998: Following lengthy discussions through all kinds of correspondence, the ASIFA Board of Directors held working meetings in Zagreb and reached the following decisions:

After 20 years of varying degrees of success, ASIFA has now decided to replace the system of Festival PATRONAGE. The new structure, tentatively called PARTNERSHIP, is open to any worthwhile festival, including non-specialized ones.

Partnership introduces regular input from the filmmakers themselves via forms they are invited to fill out at a festival's close. These opinions, together with additional information supplied by festival directors, will form the basis of new RATINGS for festivals.

Festival regulations will not lose their use, but they will instead serve more as GUIDELINES, which are less restrictive than the old regulations and more adaptable to the particular needs of both filmmakers and festivals.

The official recognition letters will remain one of the instruments of ASIFA when they prove useful to festivals.

The ASIFA Board of Directors will endeavor to establish and publish the texts defining these new arrangements by September, 1998.

A Word on the Ottawa Festival

In June 1997, ASIFA was informed that the Ottawa director, staff and advisory board had decided to maintain their relationship with ASIFA for the next festival and requested the approval of their regulations. Since they were the standard approved ASIFA recommended rules, patronage was readily granted.

In April 1998, there was a change of mind. The Ottawa director officially informed me he was not satisfied with ASIFA and that his festival was withdrawing from being an ASIFA-sanctioned festival. In a separate personal message he stressed that he had no intention of going public and was not going to issue press releases or announcements on the Ottawa web site.

In my previous article, ASIFA And Festivals: A Changing Relationship, I refrained from naming Ottawa, even if I spoke of festivals not feeling the need to request ASIFA patronage anymore. A little later, Ottawa issued press releases on its withdrawal from ASIFA sanctioned festivals, and its director, in a personal letter to me, strongly reproached me for my discretion on the matter. Adapting to this, I will now make these changes public.

Ottawa `98 is not an officially ASIFA-sanctioned festival. The festival must be reminded that patronage was never imposed on festivals in any way. Instead it was to be requested each time by the concerned festival organizers from the ASIFA Secretary General. There is no such thing as 'ASIFA International.' There is just one ASIFA, with built-in internationalism. As far as I know, ASIFA members will go on helping with the Canadian festival as before, seeing things in perspective.

One last note: In a recent ASIFA News issue somebody added Ottawa to the list of ASIFA-patronized festivals, thinking it was an oversight. I apologize. Such things happen. The Annecy festival, to which we unquestionably expressed our disapproval on the way they conducted their annualization, printed on the first mailing of their rules and regulations that they were under ASIFA patronage, a message that was sent to 26,500 addresses.

Michel Ocelot is president of the International Animated Film Association (ASIFA).