I had the fantastic opportunity to go to FEST in Espinho, Portugal this year. I've never heard of this film festival until recently, but I came across the pitch section and that's how I got sucked in. My project was too early in its stage so I didn't get to pitch, but I discovered the Training Ground section of the festival and was surprised by its amazing lineup. It's a program full of masterclasses and workshops with some of the best industry professionals.
This year, they had Gareth Wiley (producer for some of (my favorite) Woody Allen films), Gemma Jackson (production designer for Game of Thrones, Finding Neverland, Bridget Jones Diary), Garry Madison (colorist for Interstellar, Dark Knight, and many more Hollywood blockbusters..), Joe Walker (editor for all of Steve McQueen films so far) and Béla Tarr come and speak, to name a few.
The masterclasses were certainly interesting, but the best part was meeting fellow filmmakers. It was one of the most international group of people I've ever been surrounded by, but still united by the one desire for filmmaking. It's always at these festivals I'm reminded once again that there are very many filmmakers around the world. And it's also these moments that make me wonder if there's even enough audience for this much independent cinema.. and all the effort that goes into it... haha..
The most stunning and awesome part of this trip was accidentally going to Porto on the day of Festa de São João. I had no clue what this festival was. Elisa and I had planned to take a break from FEST and check out Porto on thursday, and it just so happened to be the day of the city's biggest celebration.
We went during the day, got a decent look around Porto before it turned into a madly packed crowd zone. Porto felt like a mix of some of the bigger European cities, but it had its own charm with a smaller, friendlier vibe. As we walked around, we saw all the restaurant owners beginning to set up their grills outside. Turns out it's a tradition to barbecue sardines on this day.
Once the festival vibe began kicking in, people started filling up every street, bands played around every corner, people walked around with this squeaky toy hammers and they'd hit you on the head with it. People are eating, drinking, all night long. And when the sun starts to set, people send up these magnificent paper balloons lit with candles up to the sky, and the sky fills up with hundreds of little candles.