In 2021, the African, Asian and Latin American Film Festival – FESCAAAL is celebrating its thirtieth birthday, a year late … and what a year! It is a tormented, suspended, long-awaited, postponed and in the end repositioned birthday, one year later, on the traditional dates of the end of March. Online of course. We wanted to mark a goal the 30th festival, unaware of what was going to happen.
“This birthday will also be a stimulus to develop new strategies to address the future, a crucial interrogative for those working in the cinema sector today, at a time when the function of the cinema and the film product are being increasingly directed towards the complexity of the Web.”
These words were unconsciously prophetic because this 30th festival, unavoidably online, reluctantly in streaming, has been much more than a stimulus, a real cyber electric shock that has put us to the test and driven us towards necessary processes of innovation that we will not drop, even when we are able to go back to our beloved cinemas. But, like the mythical sankofa bird (to plunge into the past quoting a cult film of African cinema), we are flying forward but with our heads looking backwards, at the past of the festival, the directors and the films that have accompanied us over the years.
So let’s surf the Internet with new tools, on new platforms and new films, but also with video clips that look back to the past. To our dear public who have grown with us and to ourselves, we decided to offer 29 short clips of archive footage to go back together over the history of the festival on the social media. It was moving to find again the images of that distant 1991 when in early February, coinciding with the last shots of the first Gulf War, Milan gave a sign of openness and courage for the first time in the history of exchanges with international cinema, hosted about twenty Arab and African filmmakers in the city. It was in this climate of tension and excitement that the very first Festival got off to a start that gave an indication of method to relate not so much the difference between cultures as to generate the culture of differences, to paraphrase the words of the Milan City Councillor for Culture, Mr Del Corno at the press conference.
There would be a lot more to say, to express the meaning of this long and intense adventure, which for us has also been the journey of a lifetime. We are opening up to what is new, as always, with this online festival, so different from the spirit of the travelling and festive people who came to the festival. We will still meet the public and directors and for the first time we will reach the whole of Italy with a simple click, meeting in a different and virtual space, with only slippers on our feet…
Annamaria Gallone and Alessandra Speciale