Clermont-Ferrand Film Market 2021: new challenges and opportunities

On February 5, the largest Short Film Market in Clermont-Ferrand ended. This year it was held online. Russia was represented by a delegation initiated by Eastwood Agency’s partner – Vostok Agency, a distributor of Russian short films. Besides two agencies as official delegates, there were independent specialists working at the Market: film directors and festival programmers. Our colleagues from the Shot TV channel held their own presentation there. 

The presence of delegates in Clermont-Ferrand is crucial for the entire Russian short film industry, since it is historically poorly represented on international platforms, and our foreign colleagues do not perceive us as a united industry to regularly cooperate with. Only those are taken seriously who integrate into the international ecosystem, establish connections, and promote talents and the country’s leading companies. That is why Vostok and Eastwood Agency decided not to miss the opportunity to work at the key online Market of 2021.


Any online event is both new challenges and new opportunities. For example, as part of the accreditation, Clermont-Ferrand provided a subscription to the Shortfilmwire platform to watch films from the Market’s program for a whole year. On the dates of the Market, a unique contact database of all participants with a messenger was created. Most of the events were recorded and posted in the Replay section, including 13 pitches from the prestigious European pitching Euro Connection.

However, one should be prepared for the peculiarities of the online format. Some events at international markets are held in the national language with no translation provided and in an invitation-only mode (for regular partners or specialists of a certain industry segment). At the Turin market, part of the discussions was held in Italian, and in Clermont-Ferrand in the French language. This year, not only events on national cinematography were held in French, but also events interesting to international specialists such as presentations by leading distributors and buyers of international content: ARTE, CANAL+, CINE+.

Whereas Turin market’s online system was primarily focused on organizing one-to-one meetings, Clermont-Ferrand after preliminary accreditation provided opportunities for collective B2B meetings with festivals and distributors. At the event, it was possible to get into the meeting area after pre-moderation in the virtual lobby. Usually, the pool of people at such meetings is limited. In the case of Clermont-Ferrand, the limit was 75 tickets, and those who failed to get accredited on the first day of the Market could not get tickets since they were sold out. As an alternative, the Market held Happy Hours every evening. Similar meetings were held there in a more informal way, but, as a rule, with slightly different participants. 


It is worth noting that in Clermont-Ferrand countries with developed short film industries were represented by several delegations at once. Networks of both commercial and non-commercial structures support the short film industry in Germany, France, and Italy. Amazingly, South Korea was represented by 5 delegations at once.

In total, 210 short films from Russia were presented at the Market. As an official delegation, we were able to additionally highlight 34 projects and support authors from our catalogs and talented film school students, including Moscow Film School and Moscow School Of New Cinema. In addition, for their foreign colleagues, Vostok and Eastwood Agency presented a program of 5 films — recent festival hits — called When Russians do Shorts. We managed to attract additional attention to the program by sending a newsletter to the Market's contact database.

A major independent market instrument is the “Market picks” tag. It is awarded by festival and Market programmers to films considered prospective and attention-worthy for international specialists. This year, the tags were given to Naked by Kirill Khachaturov and Bum Bro by Pyotr Timofeev.

The online Market structure partially duplicated the structure of the live event. All presentations, discussions, and B2B meetings were held in their traditional zones. B2B meetings were also held via REMO application where the meeting area is designed as a hall with tables and a limited number of chairs. To be able to join a group chat and meet the right specialist, one had to act quickly. Moreover, it was important to fit into the discussion and ask experts the right questions. In general, the event program was designed for professionals of various profiles. The delegations and national industries presentations were held by Poles and Italians; the Short Film Conference Association moderated a number of discussions on the impact of the pandemic on festivals; the largest distributors and VOD platforms presented their film catalogs.


At each film market, we traditionally meet the film festivals representatives. In Clermont-Ferrand, our delegation held a number of important negotiations with the selectors of the Venice short film program and Cannes Critics’ Week. As a result, we will be able to show them the best works individually. We negotiated with festivals that are geographically remote from Russia — in Brazil, South Africa, the USA, or festivals where Russian cinema is rarely shown: the Bilbao International Short Film Festival (Spain) or IndieCork (Ireland). Some of the negotiations were scheduled after the end of the Market.

For the Vostok agency, the development of co-produced short-film projects was a priority.

Yanna Buryak, CEO: "This year the main and obvious trend is the openness of Europe to co-produce with Russia. There were two films of French and German production shot in Russia and shown in the national competition and the Lab Competition. In addition to them, the Belgian Sun Dog shot completely in Russia, was nominated for the European Film Academy Award-2020. Sun Dog also became the best short film of 2020 according to the Short Film Conference. On the eve of the Russian short film Foundation launch, this year the main task of Vostok at the 43. Clermont-Fd Int. Short Film Festival was the establishment of partnership programs with foreign agencies. We were primarily focused on cooperation with Europe: France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy. The first Foundation budget will be specifically used for the integration of our young filmmakers into the international industrial context!"

Olga Bazhenova