Being invited by the Irish Film Festival to a be juror at Giffoni Film festival was an astounding opportunity. But to be honest, I hadn’t a clue what to expect and I was bit nervous when I got dropped at the airport. But 12 days later, coming back to that very same airport, I had to pinch myself. I’d had a life changing experience which I will never forget and for that I will always be grateful.
It’s hard to describe how amazing my whole Giffoni experience was. I ‘lucked out’ with my host-family. They live in Sweden, where Ivo, the dad is from, for most of the year. But Luisa, the mother, is Italian and her family have an apartment in Vietri, where they spend their summers, (not a bad life). They are multilingual (even the eleven year old son) and their English is flawless, which made my life a lot easier. Elio, my host and fellow juror, couldn’t have been nicer to me. And we’d so much in common - from the love of film to fashion. We even liked the same food.
Travelling with the Irish delegation was great. Sally, my fellow Irish juror, became a good friend. There was no hassle at all, thanks to Sarah Ahearn, our chaperon. She couldn’t have been nicer and was so easy to co-operate with. She respected our freedom, but was also really responsible. It hard to get this right, but Sarah was brilliant.
There were so many nationalities represented at Giffoni. I was lucky and I made friends quickly with people from countries I wouldn’t have ever dreamt of making a connection with - all of us united in the love of film. My friend group consisted of Macedonians, Belgians, Swedish, Americans, English, Italians . It’s a great place to make friends and international connections - my kind of currency.
The array of films that were shown were incredible. I was impressed that they didn’t play it safe. There was lots of hard hitting topics that need to be discussed. It really showcased film-makers using the art form of cinema to spread important messages. The movies that I favoured were ‘Rafiki’, ‘Nights Comes On’ and ‘Air’. They were all films I was rooting for and would have been happy to see them win (sadly they didn’t). ‘Rafiki’ was a lesbian ‘Romeo and Juliet’ set in Kenya. The acting was overwhelming. I truly believed the couple were really in love. The story they portrayed was heart wrenching and sad. And the fact that the script was based on a true story left me with heavy eyes and a lot on my mind. ‘Air’ is a coming of age love story of two girls. It was truly a spectacle for the eyes and ears - the cinematography and score was dazzling. It was such a beautiful film. I want to watch it again, right now.
After every film there would be a discussion/Q&A with either the director of the film or just among everyone. This was a great way to get other people’s point of view on the movie or to get answers to something you didn’t really understand. I tried really hard to get hold of that mic and ask questions. My hand was always up, to the point that the person that gave the mic out even felt sorry for me. But it wasn’t to be. I felt a bit deflated, especially when I finally got hold of the mike at the Q&A at ‘Rust’ and the session ended. But later that night I was setting up a shot with my camera to shoot the blood moon, when someone walked in front of my shot. I heard a voice telling them get out of my way. When I looked away from my camera to say thanks, it was the actress, Tifanny Dopke, and director, Aly Muritiba, from Rust, just standing there watching the moon. So, I thanked them and introduced myself as an Irish juror. I had the chance talk to them about their movie, which was a real special moment.
Giffoni is so unique, one minute I’m talking to Aly Muritiba and next I’m making a connection with a young director my own age. The excitement and energy I shared with so many young film-makers was inspiring. I’ve had really interesting conversations. I even plan to make a short film including 12 different countries contributing to it which I’m so excited about. This project wouldn’t have come together if it wasn’t for The Giffoni experience.
I’ve so many good memories. From the stupid ones, like when a person fell asleep beside me in Mama Mia 2 and was snoring so loud - to dancing my heart out at the Mexico café - to when we went to Amalfi in a thunderstorm. But the thing I will take with me to my grave was the great people I made a connection with and being in a fantasy world for 10 days.
All I want to say to anyone who is reading this, is if they have the chance to do anything like this in their life time, take it. Because trust me you won’t regret it.
- Campbell Gibson ☺