Giffoni Experience Blog: Sally Howard Ihle, Generator 16+ Programme

Giffoni Film Festival is decidedly different from any other experience I’ve ever had. The atmosphere is not only one of excitement and enthusiasm, but one of purpose. The energy of the festival is difficult to capture through words - maybe it’s an impossible task. Nevertheless it’s a task I’m about to undertake. 

From the moment I met them until the moment I left, my host family were nothing but kind and welcoming. Despite the language barrier they made me feel at home instantly, and took care of me as if I was one of their own. My host herself was not only fantastic at English, but was a great host who became a great friend- a friend I know I will have for life. 
I was lucky enough to travel to and from Giffoni with the Irish Delegation. There were three other jurors and our chaperone, Sarah Ahern. This group of people made the journey to and from our destination so much more comfortable and enjoyable. Sarah took such good care of us as we travelled but also for the duration of the festival and we were all so lucky to have had such a brilliant chaperone. 
Experiencing a film festival abroad is definitely more thrilling than experiencing one at home because you have the opportunity to experience a foreign culture and see a new part of the world simultaneously, and in my eyes this is partly what made Giffoni so enjoyable. 
My favourite film was Rafiki, a Kenyan film about the daughters of two rival politicians who fall in love in a homophobic society. I love it for so many reasons but mainly because I thought the story was so emotional and moving. The soundtrack and acting were also phenomenal. 
I think the memory that resonates with me the most from the entire experience was our bus rides to and from giffoni every day because no matter how exhausted we were we always managed to have fun together. This memory to me symbolises the entire experience and the fun we had. 
Part of what makes giffoni was a festival so amazing in my opinion is the people there. I met people from so many different walks of life, from countries I had barely heard of before and with completely different life experiences from me. Not one person there was dull or boring. Despite whatever differences we had with the other jurors there was an unmistakeable sense of unity and community- everybody there wanted to be there and was thrilled to be there. Our love of film bound us together and forged lifelong friendships between us. 
Giffoni was an incredible experience and I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to go. It is a place that I hope to return to.