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The Glasgow Guardian spoke to Erifili Missiou, founder and artistic director of Emerging Filmmakers Night (EFN).

Erifili Missiou started this exciting festival to give a platform for new filmmakers with affordable entry and lots of workshops and exciting events to enjoy. It takes place in September this year at The Garden Cinema in London, and you can browse their website and the details online here - if you have a film you want to submit you have until the 29th May this year. We talk COVID and festivals, advice for new filmmakers, and admiring films as art no matter the genre.  

The Glasgow Guardian: Why have you chosen to focus on new and emerging filmmakers at your festival, rather than have this as a smaller aspect? 

Erifili Missiou: EFN was developed by creatives who understand what filmmakers face in the first steps of their career. From finding funding to exhibition opportunities and navigating the industry... these difficulties can make or break them. We want to send a message that everyone with passion and authenticity has a place in this industry!

GG: Have you been based at The Garden Cinema before? If not, is it exciting to have a home and hub for the festival? 

EM: We’re so excited that The Garden Cinema is our new sponsor and home. It's a totally independent arthouse cinema with programming that focuses on independent and foreign language cinema as well as seasons of classic and lesser-known films.  Members' tickets are only £10 and there's a no-ads policy. The film-lover's dream cinema!

"It's a totally independent arthouse cinema with programming that focuses on independent and foreign language cinema as well as seasons of classic and lesser-known films."

This is 100% aligned with EFN’s programming ethos and our commitment to be accessible to lower incomes. With entry fees from £8 - £12 and student and alumni discounts, we are one of the most accessible festivals globally for the rewards and exposure we offer. And we also just want to screen brilliant films, and highlight unheard and authored voices. 

GG: Have you always had a hybrid element to the festival, or did COVID change this? Did COVID have a big impact on the festival as a whole? 

EM: Before COVID 19, EFN was a monthly short film exhibition in a pub in Borough, with lively Q&As between filmmakers and the audience. After COVID 19 lockdown restrictions in 2020, we took EFN online with a live-stream format that kept the collaborative and fun atmosphere of the live nights. Now the world is back open, we've combined both! It allowed us to spread our focus to the international community. Since then we've met and showcased many fascinating overseas artists. 

The challenge of COVID made us realise how much we love and value EFN. Instead of being discouraged by the closure of our live nights, we followed our passion for film exhibition and dedicated all our time and efforts to adapt it to the new world. This resulted in a fully-fledged international short film festival with awards, sponsors and a qualification by BIFA.

GG: I noticed you have a background in visual arts and art curation, does the festival have a focus on artists moving image or are you open to many genres and film types? 

EM: My diverse background allows me to appreciate works of art for their authenticity, composition and rhythm - rather than personal taste. I don’t give a toss about genres (horror, comedy, experimental, drama or moving image) just as long as the work fulfills the above criteria. 

GG: What advice would you give to filmmakers starting out? 

EM: It’s always the same: Don’t be precious about your work and be receptive to (constructive) feedback. This is your time to experiment, to make mistakes and to fall flat on your face. So if the weather was bad on the day you were shooting outside or the main actor is grumpy, get over it quickly and move on. At the same time, you HAVE to be open to constructive criticism if you aspire to become better. So, choose a person whose opinion and intentions you trust and are difficult to listen to because their criticism rings true.

GG: What has the growth of your film festival been like? Did you expect it to grow the way it has? 

EM: The humblebrag answer would be “no”. The real answer is: “why not”?

The core team, Ioanna Karavela (independent producer), Mike Sheer (comic and script coach) and myself have put an insane amount of work, thought and passion into this mad venture. We have compromised our paying jobs, our health and we have fought like cats in a bag - all in the interest of EFN. So this development did not come from thin air. We have a vision and want to see it happen. 

GG: Do you have any workshops, events or talks coming up at this year’s festival (or before) that you are most excited about? 

EM: Yes! We are going to keep on developing our 3 core skill-sharpening industry workshops during every EFN edition in Short Film Funding, Screenwriting and Festival Strategy. Also, we plan to have guest facilitators to deliver workshops in Casting, Editing and Sound Design. As always, watch this space!

GG: What do you love about curating, programming, and showcasing others' work? Has this been rewarding for you? 

EM: I like the feeling of being inspired and I want to share it with others - simple as that. I believe great art is enriching, makes us see new perspectives and creates new avenues in how we experience reality and deal with our everyday life. It reconnects us to ourselves. I am a firm believer that this is an experience that should be shared.  

GG: Are there any highlights to look out for at this year's festival? 

EM: The most important developments for EFN is our transition from a seasonal to an annual festival and having a new home at The Garden Cinema. After two years of non-stop transformation and developments we want to settle in our new environment and communicate who we are (and what we offer) to a wider audience. We want to ensure that people who prefer the in-person cinema experience, will also get to know who we are. Loads of people doubted we will continue after COVID. We are not going anywhere. 

Browse the EFN website online here - if you have a film you want to submit you have until the 29th May.


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