Looking back at the SHIFT Film Forum

Published on 7 November 2023 at 23:47

By Smaranda Mihăilă

Even though my first time hearing about the SHIFT Film Forum was through a press release email a few months before the start of this year’s edition, I am beyond grateful I was offered the opportunity to attend it and meet the amazing people who make it happen every year.

As a very film-passionate individual who tries to keep her eyes and ears open for any sort of festival, event, or film screening, I find the Netherlands to be a fruitful environment for people who share my interest. This is most likely why, when I told my friends I was going to a film festival in Roermond, a small southern town close to Germany that is mostly known for its Outlet Center, they were quite surprised a film festival was even happening there. However, CineSud has been doing it for 9 years and probably will do it for a lot more to come. 

Attending the SHIFT Film Forum 2023 was a privilege. I got to meet people with incredibly diverse backgrounds, people who have been working for years in the industry, aspiring filmmakers in the process of pitching their film ideas and hoping to make them come to life, as well as a lot of people with no background whatsoever in the film industry who bravely decided to take a step forward and pursue their passion. 

The day started with a script-writing workshop held by Anne van Melick, the Head of Department Screenwriting at the Netherlands Film Academy. We were presented with the three fundamental elements of screenwriting: personal motivation for writing, writing techniques, and collaboration. We then delved deeper into the basic dramaturgical tools necessary for structuring a script and discussed how to make our characters come to life, through characterization, relationships, archetypes, diversity, and place within the storyworld. The most inspiring part of the workshop was the interactive activity where we got to read each other’s script ideas, provide feedback, and overall get inspired by each other. For me, this was one of the best parts of the whole experience - getting to talk to and listen to such a diverse group of people, each one of them having different stories to tell and different ideas and perspectives on how to tell that story through film.

It was my pleasure to also get to know two of the people from the CineSud team, Awesta Mahani, the Marketing and Communication Representative of CineSud (whom I thank for this amazing opportunity), and Marie Lormeau, Project Coordinator. 

If you are interested on some insights about what goes into organizing a film festival, here’s what Marie has to say about her experience of this edition of the SHIFT Film Forum:


"The SHIFT Film Forum was a very interesting event to organise on different fronts:

The industry-related part of the program was inspiring to organise, as it involved creating the program to the Directors Village residency (5 days residency for filmmakers to develop their next short film) but also two masterclasses revolving around scriptwriting and producing respectively. 

Making the program and discussing it with the coaches is always very insightful and energizing. Most members of our team are filmmakers themselves so it is important for us to think about what filmmakers need and would like to learn when making the programs. It is a "for filmmakers, by filmmakers" kind of mindset. 

This year was the second edition of the "Directors Village" residency program and we can see how much it grew already. It is a collaboration with the collective Screentalent Europe, therefore it involves makers and partners from all over Europe offering different perspectives and cultural backgrounds which makes the experience all the more enriching. It is definitely a new addition to our program that we hope will keep running for long. 

Of course the film competition is also really fun to take care of. We receive hundreds of entries from BeNeLux and Germany, we watch them all and to be honest being paid to watch films is truly a privilege. The only downside is that, despite the quality of the films we receive, we must narrow the selection down to a block of 75min, leading us to make heartbreaking decisions and not involving some films that we really love. 

When the selection is done we promote the films via different methods; we have the filmmakers talks, a series of online video interviews with the filmmakers that can be found on our vimeo and website. Next to that we also share questions for a written interview with the filmmakers so they can write a short case study about their film that we publish on our website. That way even filmmakers who sadly can't be with us on the day of the screening can still feel included in the festival and interact with the audience. This year we were very glad that many of the filmmakers in competition could come and join the screening, participate in the Q&A and interact with the audience during the networking drinks!

Overall SHIFT Film Forum exceeded our expectations this year. There was great teamwork at hand, our guests seemed very content with their experience and we were happy that so many people came to join us in the celebrations and we hope that they will be coming back for more during our next events! "

Marie Lormeau, CineSud Project Coordinator


I end this small piece of writing hoping that, by sharing my experience, I have at least gotten a few people interested in hopping on a train for an hour and a half – which is, indeed, quite a long time for such a small country, but I promise, it’s worth it – and going to Roermond for the next edition of the SHIFT Film Forum.


This article was first published on October 6th, 2023 on our Instagram account. Again, a special thanks to Cinesud and Marie Lormeau.

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