Following the success of last year’s MiNi Film Fest, in which more than a dozen films were screened to 1,300 people in two days, the organisers are going local. The new monthly version brings the concept of the parent festival to an evening installment at arts hub The Nut. Time Out talks to founder Marcin Gajewski.
The original MiNi Film Fest was a weekend-long event. Why have you decided to move to The Nut?
We had so much positive feedback each time we did it that it made sense to try to shape it into a more regular event. At the same time I’ve been talking to The Nut about doing something substantial together for a couple of years now. The Nut also organises exhibitions, so we aim to make a link between the films and ongoing events to give a multi-faceted experience to our audience.
So what can audiences expect from The Nut nights?
In essence, MiNi Film Fest [MFF] is a great excuse to get together with other creatives and watch some cinema. Call me traditional, but great cinema just isn’t made for watching on your phone or laptop, you know?
So each night has a theme around which all the films are programmed, same as the bigger festival. We release the theme in advance online on the Facebook group and our website, without revealing the exact film we will be screening. On the night itself there is first a presentation and then we screen the night’s selection of shorts, which is followed by a drinks break, which is followed by the main feature. Usually afterwards people hang around a bit more for some good conversation and music.
Your programme always includes a selection of shorts…
It’s the special thing about the MFF. No one else is really seriously screening shorts in Shanghai. Short films are a great art form as they can be more like a poem than a novel. You can leave a lot more up to the viewer, more questions and less answers basically.
Where do the themes come from?
On the one hand I have this mental list of feature length films I find great or unique for some reason and would love to screen once. On the other hand there are all these shorts I would like to screen. Then pretty much like a Rubik’s Cube, I have to make a programme that fits and tells a story in itself. I spend a lot of time on figuring out the exact order. You can’t bore the audience by showing the same kind of films in a row, but your jumps can’t be too big either as you lose their interest. I do enjoy challenging the viewer though and don’t shy away from putting up a demanding feature that might not be up everyone’s alley.
What made you organise MFF?
The short answer is the sheer lack of non-profit film events in Shanghai aimed at creatives. I believe it’s important to try to actively build up a community. I might sound like a wishy-washy hippy, but I really mean it. Shanghai is a place of fleeting interests and is constantly in flux. It’s easy to party every night but it is hard to be surprised and stimulated, especially from a cultural point of view. Hopefully MFF can add something lasting to this landscape.