At the opening of Espoo Ciné, diverse film was celebrated with the Your Ciné award, which was given out for the first time this year!
The Your Ciné idea competition is Espoo Ciné's initiative towards a more diverse film industry as the competition is aimed at underrepresented minorities, helping their ideas develop into films. The competition was implemented in cooperation with the Writers' Guild and the Finnish Film Directors Association SELO ry.
In the workshop, the 10 best ideas of the competition were commented on by the mentors and worked on together. The workshop was perceived as motivating and encouraging, opening the doors of the film industry. Janina Korkia-Aho received a special mention for a fascinating idea, while Miska Tuononen received special mention for developing the idea during the day. Pinja Eskola received the first ever Your Ciné prize, worth 2,500 euros, with her idea. According to the jury of mentors, Pinja's idea has a wonderful topic worth implementing, which was shared with personal passion. The pitching of the topic was professional, touched the heart of the jury and made them excited for the characters in the film. The purpose of the award is to support the further development of the idea. The award has been supported by Yle, Nordisk Film and the Finnish Film Foundation.
The winner of the competition, Pinja Eskola, tells about her experience at the Your Ciné workshop:
Espoo Ciné's Your Ciné idea competition offered a great opportunity: the idea of the competition was to make the voices of minorities heard. It gives space for stories that we wouldn't necessarily hear otherwise. Having studied screenwriting, I know and recognize the power of film, its ability to influence people's thinking and behavior. Only by hearing and listening to the stories of minorities, difference becomes normalized and diversity begins to be better understood as something positive rather than a threat.
The film industry seems tempting and attractive to many. It offers wonderful opportunities at its best. With the help of films and series, you can offer people an escape from reality, entertain and provoke thought. However, it is difficult to get into the field. Your Ciné wanted to bring the stories and voices of minorities to the fore. I saw the competition as an opportunity to bring to the big screen characters that I would have wanted to see when I was growing up, i.e. strong and independent, active agents of their own lives in diverse adventures. When I was young, that kind of stories almost did not exist. It is not long ago that it seemed that all disabled people were scripted to die. Either we literally died or we wanted to die. No one wants to see such a representation, because our life is not a tragedy. It does not normalize difference. On the contrary, it creates a gap between the disabled and the non-disabled. As a screenwriter, I want to break down harmful representations and narratives by writing and not just complain about these themes on my blog.
I wrote an idea for a drama dealing with assumptions, pressures and prejudices set by society at the intersection of live role play and real life. In the story, the disabled person belongs to several minorities. They are fine with themselves unlike the non-disabled person, who seems to be crushed under the partly imaginary, partly real pressures coming from society. What happens when two people from completely different origins meet each other? And even more important: do we perform more in real life than in the game, because in the game we are not bound by society's norms, prejudices and assumptions?
I got to compete with nine other talented writers and their diverse ideas. Before the winner was chosen and the idea was pitched in front of the jury, we had a four-hour workshop behind us. In the workshop, we had the opportunity to develop our idea with 10 solid professionals from the film industry. First, we briefly explained the idea to each person, and they shared their views. After this we had a longer session with our own mentor. After the session, we pitched our idea developed during the day to the jury, which finally chose the winner.
The day was hectic and the pressure was high. Although I knew that winning the competition did not automatically mean that the film idea would end up in production, I was determined to do my best. I wanted to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to learn and, to be honest, the reward was also attractive. Each meeting with the mentors gave my idea a huge boost. It was interesting to see how different people look at the same idea in different ways. Even though I got a lot of new ideas, I felt a bit overwhelmed after everything. When I was giving the final pitch, I wondered how on earth I could make the idea coherent. I was heart warming to see how many professionals in the field offered to help me in the further development of the idea after the workshop. There is power in my stories. They want to be heard.
My plans are, at some point, to work on the script of a short film from my idea, which I aim to get into production. I hope that my idea will develop into an engaging, warm, but thought-provoking film that will keep the viewer in their grip until the end.
I would like Your Ciné to be part of each year’s programme of Espoo Ciné, because such possibilities are needed.