My name is Grace Hickey. I was one of four jurors that went to the Giffoni International Film Festival. Giffoni is a film festival in a small village close to Naples and Salerno called Giffoni Valle Piana. The festival is unique as young people from all over the world get to participate as jurors. There were 5600 jurors from 52 different countries. There were children as young as 3 to people over 18.
My host's name was Chiara. Her family was very kind and always looked after me. Chiara's cousins were staying with her. They came from different parts of Italy to see the festival. So everyday we would take a bus from Salerno to Giffoni. I was a Generator +13. I was watching films for teenagers between 13 and 15. And few hundred other teenagers in that age group joined me to judge films.
We watched 7 films. My favourite was 'This Crazy Heart' which was about a guy called David who has a heart condition since birth. No-one knows if he'll live to turn 16. Lenny is a rich kid who spends his dad's money. Lenny's dad is David's doctor. Lenny's Dad asks Lenny to help David experience everything he wants before it's too late. 'This Crazy Heart' won the overall award for best film. After films we would have debates and sometimes the director or actor would join to talk about their film.
We saw the preview for 'Ant-Man and The Wasp'. I really enjoyed it as I always like Marvel films. It was really good, the acting was great and the humour didn't feel forced. After the film we had a Q&A with Evangeline Lilly and Paul Rudd. They were both very friendly and had answers to all the questions asked.
In between or after films we would stay in Giffoni with Chiara's friends. We would go to the concert almost every night. They played a lot of Italian music, which was strange as I didn't understand anything but people around me were chanting the lyrics. I didn't always enjoy the music (except the occasional Rock band) but it was interested to watch. Apart from the music being different, the were a lot more differences. The language was very different and the only parts I understood came from the slight similarities of Italian and the French I learnt in school and also the few words I learned from my host. I also had to get used to eating a lot of pizza and pasta everyday.
We got two days off, one of which I spent taking a ferry to Amalfi with the Irish delegation. We went on one of the few days that rained which was nice after the extremely hot weather. We went to the Amalfi Cathedral, we walked around the little town and then I went kayaking in the sea. The other day was spent looking around Giffoni and hanging out with my host family.
I really enjoyed Giffoni. It was great seeing films from around the world and seeing the cultural differences between Ireland and all the other countries. I met new people and saw beautiful parts of Italy. I loved being a juror and being able to have my own say. It was a great opportunity and I'd love to be able to go again.