The End: An Open Farewell Letter.
And… roll credits. After 7 editions showing 99 films for the delight of thousands of Berliners, it’s time for Shebeen Flick Irish Film Festival to close the curtains.
It all began when after many years living in Dublin, I decided to move to Berlin and to bring along the piece of Ireland that was closest to me: films. During my time in the Irish capital, I worked closely with Irish filmmakers in the Screen Directors Guild and there I discovered a vibrant community of storytellers who had a lot to share with the world. Then I also found out that their stories rarely reached an audience outside the Emerald Isle, with the exception of film festivals. Many of the films travelled the world collecting awards, but did not manage to secure a cinematic release, thereby limiting their reach. Shebeen Flick was born out of the ambition to make those films available to Berlin audiences, who are often wonderfully curious and hungry for discovering new creative works.
My hunch was right. Berliners really appreciated the carefully curated programme I put together every single year with the kind support of the Irish Film Institute, and which highlighted contemporary Irish films otherwise unavailable in Germany. People kept coming year after year and because of them the festival grew steadily not only in numbers but also in scope. We added new formats including installations, virtual reality, episodic content and live performances that were linked to the moving images. Pop-up screenings were integrated to other festivals including the Lange Nacht der Filmfestivals and Craw Festival. At the last edition of the Shebeen Flick, many filmmakers travelled to attend the festival at their own cost and they brought a great sense of community to Berlin. What wonderful times!
On the other hand, maintaining the interest of partners and sponsors was a continuous challenge. The endless task of having to prove that what you are doing is worth someone’s support is a dread-inducing and exhausting reality. If you were ever responsible for running an independent festival, you know exactly what I mean. You’re expected to become “bigger and better” every year whilst pots of money shrink and partners drop in and out as they please.
Simultaneously, in the last couple of years my gut feeling started to tell me that there are way too many film festivals in the German capital. You can find a film festival for almost anything: porn, feminist, Christmas, fantasy…you name it. And while essentially, I find this a wonderful thing, I started questioning: Does Berlin really need an Irish film festival? These questions unfolded into another one: Should we have any film festivals defined by national identity? And, if so, what does it mean to be Irish, anyway?
As for myself, was born in Brazil to a family with a very diverse background including indigenous Brazilians, Portuguese, French and even German. Thirteen years ago, I left Brazil and since then have fully committed to my adopted homes, Dublin and Berlin. Besides my holding dual nationalities (Brazilian/Portuguese), I feel how strongly all these places and their respective cultures have shaped who I am today. So why am I championing something that — albeit unintentionally — goes against what I believe and my very nature?
Apart from my personal experience, and most importantly, these questions intensified when juxtaposed with the current world order. When faced with the rise of nationalistic ideas in politics and society, my reservations started turning into a sort of discomfort. Running a film festival that is conceptually defined by a nationality didn’t feel right. The above culminated in the very informed and thought-through decision to end the festival.
I know for a fact that there is plenty of creative talent coming from Ireland and I will always be an ambassador of Irish culture. In addition, I believe the wonderful films and artworks produced by Irish artists have plenty of opportunity to be presented internationally in major and independent festivals that focus on the aspects that unite us rather than divide us: our shared love of documentaries, fiction, serial drama, virtual reality and whatever else inspires us to experience great stories. The birthplace of these films or of their creators should not matter.
A wish to thank all who exhibited, attended and supported Shebeen Flick during its lifetime. Now it’s time for the credits to roll…
With heartfelt thanks to all involved between 2012-2018.
Founder & Director