Fipa means Festival International des Programmes Audiovisuels and has been going on in Biarritz for 23 years. It is a festival for television orientated programmes, including creative documentaries, reportages & current affairs, music and performing arts programmes, short films, panoramas. The best of the best new is not here, a producer told me because that would mean that you ”burn other possibilities” = other festivals of more importance, festivals that do want national or international premieres. But films like ”Videocracy” by Erik Gandini and a new film by the Hungarian master Peter Forgacs (”Hunky Blues”) have found their ways to the casinos where most of the film screenings take place in classy surroundings.
I have been in Biarritz for many years watching the festival and the market from a distance as I have been working for the Archidoc programme (see below) and its pitching session. And I have many critical remarks to make. First of all the festival programme is published quite late, the publicity is lousy. Secondly is it a huge exaggeration to call Fipa an international event. The television people from the Nordic countries and UK and Holland and Belgium have long ago dropped Fipa, simply because the market is too weak or because they sense that this is a national gathering! From the numbers of people from arte and France Télévisions that I have seen during the years I can only agree with them. Not a place to do business but a place to watch programmes and eat oysters. And shake your head after numerous meetings with French bureaucracy.
Photo from Forgacs film: Péter Forgács created a documentary exploring the fate of hundred thousands of Hungarian men and women who arrived to the United States between 1890 and 1921. To tell their sagas the director weaved this grand epic from the early American cinema, found footage, photographs and interviews. The film reveals the difficult moments of arrival, integration and assimilation, which eventually fed the happiness of the later generations and their fulfilment of the American dream.