Evolution! Mallorca International Film Festival director and founder Sandra Lipski is beaming with pride, passion, enthusiasm and emotion. And quite rightly so, as she and her team are just days away from lifting the curtain on the tenth anniversary event in Palma.
Talking to the Bulletin last week at the Portixol Hotel, one of the two headquarters for the festival, she could hardly contain her desire to get this year’s landmark event under way.
Last year, against all odds thrown up by the pandemic, she managed to pull off the ninth festival and this year’s promises to be the biggest and the best yet.
“We are all so proud of having managed to have got this far, and it feels like the end of the first act. We’ve reached this milestone and now we’re looking ahead to the next chapter in the history of the festival. After ten years, the festival is now on the eve of entering into its teenage years, so we’re wiser and older and we can step forward with our grown-up shoes on,” she said.
The festival, as always, is staying true to its mission of “bridging cultures - bridging people”; feature and short films, documentaries and music videos have been submitted from all over the world - from China to South America. “The response to this year’s festival has been amazing and I think it’s proof of the trust the global industry has in the festival’s high level of professionalism.
“We had a record 1,200 entries from 85 countries and during the six-day festival, which runs from October 27 to November 2, we will be screening a total of 139 productions, 20 of which are music videos.
“What is especially important and wonderful about this year’s event is that so many former participants are returning. It’s like we’ve evolved into a global audio-visual family which gathers every year here in Mallorca. We have film makers, actors and actresses who have made their debuts in the world of film over the past ten years returning.
“For example, on Wednesday October 27 at the opening gala at the Teatre Principal, we are hosting the European premiere of Pan de Limon con semillas de amapola (Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake). Based on the same-titled Spanish best-selling novel, Benito Zambrano’s film is a heart-warming second chance in life tale from the Goya and San Sebastian winning writer-director (The Sleeping Voice). It tells the tale of two unfulfilled sisters who create a new life together running a bakery in Mallorca. He participated in the very first festival, So it’s a real honour for him to be returning.
“Then we have the closing ceremony, which is going to be really special. It is going to held at the Palma Convention Centre and will feature the world premiere of the feature film The Laureate, a biographical romantic drama film written and directed by William Nunez which stars Tom Hughes, Laura Haddock and Dianna Agro. It depicts the life of British poet and writer Robert Graves who helped to really put Mallorca and Deya on the map.
“Not only will we have the world premiere but it will be followed by a question and answer session with the director and the cast. Nunez actually submitted the film to the festival competition. I couldn't believe it, but I guess that’s why the festival is proud to have been one of MovieMaker’s TOP 50 Film Festivals Worth The Entry fee two years in a row, as well as appearing continuously on the 100 Best Reviewed Film Festival list on Freeway, ranking in the top 1.5% of more than 8,000 film festivals and creative markets around the world.
“Plus, this year’s festival will present celebrated German filmmaker Wim Wenders with its highest honour, the Evolution Honorary Award with a special screening of his 1991 film Until the End of the World. He is the father of the new German cinema era, head of the European Film Academy and has won a host of awards and nominations from Cannes, London, Berlin to the Oscars. He is a living legend, so having him here in Mallorca is going to be very special.
“We also have a directorial debut by British director Kirsty Bell, whose film A Bird Flew In, which stars Derek Jacobi, Jeff Fahey and Sadie Frost, will be one of the many being screened. Both Kirsty and Sadie are coming to Palma.
“The list of films is not only endless but so diverse and exciting. Just like last year, we’re again seeing so many more female directors coming through, which is always encouraging. In the Balearic section, there are some excellent productions this year. Some of them are really out there and very fresh, which bodes well for the future of the island’s flourishing film industry.
“Not only does the island have a wealth of talent in all fields of the industry, just look at how it has emerged from the pandemic with so many top level international productions being filmed on the island over the past few months. Many more are scheduled over the coming months.
“When I first launched Evolution in Mallorca, I also held a festival in Los Angeles, but after four years the Mallorca event had become so big with all of the local institutions having finally seen and understood what we were trying to do and getting on board, I had to make a decisions. Los Angeles or Mallorca, there was no way I could have continued organising both - so I chose Mallorca and it’s probably one of the best decisions I have made in my life so far.
“Not only has the film festival grown, so too has my family over the past ten years and Mallorca has pretty much become home. We go to the States for the holiday, I need one after the festival ends! But we open for submissions again in January, so it’s a quick turnaround. I can’t thank Mallorca enough for everything the island and its people have done to help and support us. Palma is the perfect location for a film festival as well as for film making. It’s so central to Europe and people just love coming to the island. It’s got everything and is the perfect location to mix businesses with pleasure.
“Apart from the screenings, the majority of which will be at Cine Ciutat with some also at Sala Augusta, we’ve also got a packed calendar of industry workshops - first-class casting directors, producers, writers, etc. will be sharing their expertise.
“And don’t forget we’ve got the drive-in movies in Port Adriano. This year we also have a Halloween night and there are going to be some extra spooky surprises for those who go, so don’t miss out on the festival events, the excellent small team and I just can’t wait to open.”
For more information and tickets visit www.evolutionfilmfestival.com