Every February, our tireless programming team presents a selection of about 200 short films. The works are carefully chosen for audiences to enjoy them at the tail end of the long Saguenay winter. Whether they found the films through careful research on every platform, by attending other festivals or by viewing more than 1200 films submitted in response to our call, our programmers always manage to find some hidden gems. Read on to find out all about the exacting process behind each year’s festival program.
On your mark, get set, watch!
For our programming team, fall isn’t the season for long walks in the woods – they’re too busy spending hour after hour watching films. Mélissa Bouchard, our programming director who was nicknamed the “girl of the 3000 movies” by Saguenay’s daily paper, Le Quotidien, makes it her business to see every eligible Canadian and Quebec-made short film. Meanwhile, the scouting team, typically made up of five industry professionals, works on international films. Their role is to watch a large number of submitted films and make a preliminary list of those that not only grab the viewer’s attention and would be suitable for our competition, but that also fit with the festival’s editorial approach and the year’s planned thematic programs. Mélissa then watches all of the films chosen by the committee and narrows the preliminary selections down to a shortlist.
Over to the selection committee
Now REGARD’s selection committee gets to work. The members watch the films on the programming director’s shortlist. At this stage, there are still around 500 films being considered for the festival. This is when cordial deliberations can turn into heated debates – this work isn’t all fun and games! A process of elimination gets underway, leading to around 300 candidates. The crème de la crème, as they say. Now things get even harder! It’s time to start putting together programs of films that fit well together. Which fictional film goes well with which documentary? Does this animation work after the previous film’s climactic twist? It can be quite a puzzle. Once the full program is chosen, official selection letters are sent out to the filmmakers. The next edition of REGARD is taking shape!
Finally, in theatres during the festival, everyone gets the chance to see the results of the programming team’s work. As you can see, there’s a lot more to putting together a REGARD program than just watching some movies. It takes many hours of viewing, some obvious choices and plenty of tough decisions. Above all, it takes a deep passion for short films.
Stay tuned for our upcoming blog posts. In the next few weeks, we’ll introduce each member of the programming team for our 25th edition!
Photo: Louis Moulin