Preview: MiNi Film Fest

The film fest returns with movies focused on the theme of 'food'

Building on its first installment, the MiNi Film Fest returns this month. Festival director Marcin Gajewski tells Nicola Davison why the event is about more than just movies

How did MiNi come to be?
After arriving in Shanghai three years ago I started organising movie nights with a group of friends. The first time we had about five people and it grew until about 25-40 regulars came. When it was the 20th film night we decided to go public. With my usual bravado I skipped a few steps and said ‘Let’s make a festival out of it’.

What’s the idea behind MiNi?

I describe MiNi as a ‘concept festival’. All the films are programmed around a single theme that changes with each festival. The first theme was architecture and this year it’s food. The programming is focused on three types of film: classic art house, top-end documentary and independent Chinese cinema.

We’ll be showing a short film before each feature, like we used to do in cinemas across Europe in the old days. I think short film is one of the most important formats. It’s like a fugue; the size is small so you can work out an idea in an elegant way. It gives creators greater freedom. The festival is a weekend event with food stalls, drinks and some of Shanghai’s best DJs playing. I wanted to make a film festival that targets all creatives, not just something for film insiders. It’s a bit like a music festival but instead of focusing on a love of music the focus is film.

Why did you choose food as the festival’s theme?
I want to keep the themes creativity related and distinguish between ‘hard’ or concise themes and ‘soft’ broad themes. Architecture would be a hard theme and food soft.

The most important thing when programming is keeping things diverse with films that approach the theme from different angles.Food will be in every aspect of the festival. The visuals will feature xiaolongbao, which (like MiNi) are small but with a surprise inside and one of the most delicious things you’ve ever experienced. We’ve got organic food vendors and restaurants involved.

What else does MiNi offer that the DVD store doesn’t?
An essential component of cinema is the spectacle – it’s a communal event. Last year, I was expecting around 200-300 people but we had more than 700, with people waiting outside the door. It was excellent proof that there’s a hunger in a city like Shanghai with all its DVDs for people to get together and have fun with film. And, you know what? It’s free.

MiNi Film Fest is from Saturday 9-Sunday 10 June with screenings from 12pm-8pm. See or our event listing for details of the the films