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Heart of Europe International TV Festival: All you need to know
 26 Oct 2021
This November, Poland’s public broadcaster will hold the inaugural edition of the International TV Festival Heart of Europe in Warsaw. Marek Solon-Lipiński, Director of International Relations, tells Yako Molhov what are some of the goals TVP want to achieve by launching this new event region which will feature content from 12 public broadcasters from the CEE region split in several categories. In the future, it is planned to expand the international reach of this new TV festival.

CEETV will cover the event which will be held in Warsaw between November 3-5.

Marek, TVP is organizing a new event for the European television industry in November − International TV Festival: Heart of Europe. Please, tell us a little bit more about the event and how the idea about it was born?

Observing the European media scene, we noticed that only a few events could become a reference point for public broadcasters from Central and Eastern Europe. The few exceptions in this respect include CEE Screenings, which fills this space in some way. However, TVP, belonging to the European family of public media and feeling a special bond with broadcasters carrying out, like TVP, a joint mission, decided to give a new impulse, which will focus attention on television works coming from our part of Europe. During the festival, we also want to show programs that will describe our region's culture and reality in a unique way while creating its identity.

At some point, we realized that we all know the American or British productions much better than the ones coming from countries much closer to us culturally, even the ones qualitatively defending themselves with artistic value. So why not create a platform that will enable better exchange between us? Our festival is an excellent tool for Central and Eastern European societies to get to know each other better.

We want our festival to become an event for everyone, regardless of whether they work in the TV industry or just want to find new, exciting films and productions from our part of Europe. Therefore, as part of the Heart of Europe festival, there will be cinema screenings in the center of Warsaw. In November, viewers from all participating countries will be able to watch the submitted productions on the festival platform heartofeurope.tvp.pl. Access will not be subject to fees - cinema tickets will be available for free, and access to the online platform will be possible after logging in.

How many participants do you expect to take part in the festival and from which territories?

We are delighted with the response scale from our partners, whom we invited to cooperate on this project. 12 TV broadcasters from 12 countries will take part in the festival, apart from Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Georgia. Among the productions submitted to the festival, over 80 have been selected and will be available for viewing during the event organized by us.

Do you expect delegates from countries outside of CEE?

Our goal, especially in the long term, is to attract the broadest possible audience from all over the world and draw their attention to the creativity of the CEE region. However, during the first edition, we mainly assume the involvement of participants from Central and Eastern Europe. We will use this opportunity to strengthen the existing or developing ties between broadcasters from this part of Europe. In further stages, the festival can be used to establish new, creative projects based on regional cooperation. Regardless of this, we invite all interested parties to familiarize themselves with the festival offer.

Is Heart of Europe open only to public broadcasters?

Yes, this year it is. Apart from the regional character, we want that the productions distinguished during the festival are characterized by a value for society to a high degree. We believe that such shows are made primarily based on the involvement of public broadcasters. These broadcasters are also natural partners since we implement other joint projects resulting from membership in European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Therefore, in the festival's first edition, we limited the group of invited broadcasters to the public ones.

Who will have access to the event, both in-person and online? What is the registration process?

Our festival is to be open to all interested parties. The cinema screenings in Warsaw will be between November 3 and 5, and will be available to all viewers - both from the television and film industry and others who will collect free tickets.

For people who, for various reasons, will not be able to participate in the Warsaw screenings, we have provided the opportunity to watch programs online. It will be possible for viewers from participating countries after logging into the festival platform.

All movies and programs will be shown in their original version with English subtitles.

What are the different categories and the requirements for participation?

One of the festival's goals was to provide a space for showcasing what the best in public television in our part of Europe is. That's why we decided to set up six broad categories that reflect the main areas of TV content. These categories are feature film, feature series, documentaries, entertainment, children & youth and digital. The submitted programs should be produced, co-produced or commissioned by a public broadcaster, premiered on air or on the broadcaster's platform from January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2021, regardless of the year of production and duration of the entry.

Is there going to be a competition element in the festival and who will be members of the jury in the different categories?

Although the festival's primary goal is to create an opportunity to review works created in Central and Eastern Europe, an essential element of this undertaking is also a competition that will select the best projects in all six categories.

We have appointed a separate jury in each category. Each of the juries is composed of eminent experts representing the broadcasters participating in the project. The chairs of individual juries include the famous Czech documentary filmmaker Alena Mullerova, the deputy director-general of the Lithuanian LRT Gytis Oganauskas, the head of the Estonian VOD platform Jupiter Toomas Luhats, and the board member of the Ukrainian public broadcaster Yaroslav Lodygin.

What segments will Heart of Europe consist of? Will there be a conference part alongside the screenings?

The first edition of the Heart of Europe festival focuses on the viewer and provides them with an opportunity to get acquainted with the repertoire from Central and Eastern Europe. Taking advantage of the presence of representatives of the broadcasters participating in the festival, we also prepare interviews and discussions in the festival studio, which will be made available through the festival platform, social media and TVP antennas.

What titles is TVP bringing to the festival?

TVP decided to enter its programs into all festival categories. Among other entries, we submitted: in film category – Zieja - the most recent film by Robert Gliński, with famous Polish actors Andrzej Seweryn and Zbigniew Zamachowski, in the series category – the outstanding drama People and Gods by Bodo Kox, in the documentary category - Agony by Tomasz Knittel, recent winner of Golden Prague, in entertainment category - another season of Sanatorium of Love, a format that won Pitch & Play LIVE! in 2019, and in children and youth category: the most recent movie by Jan Jakub Kolski - Republic of Children.

TVP is the biggest Polish content producer, distributor and TV broadcaster. What have been the main challenges for you and other pubcasters in the region since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic?

It was a difficult time for all of us, but we managed to emerge stronger. During the lockdowns in 2020, we reacted quickly and became an essential source of information about the health and economic situation in the country. Our news channel achieved record viewership results, almost equal to mainstream channels in terms of popularity. We also quickly introduced appropriate procedures that allowed us to improve the production flow in pandemic conditions. The pandemic has also accelerated the processes faced by all traditional broadcasters. It has accelerated further increase in the importance of platforms and the escape of viewers to streaming. We also react to it, constantly modernizing our VOD platform and introducing new solutions that allow you to use our services anywhere and anytime.

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