Voices of the Festival

Dear Hosts,
Many thanks!
It was really wonderful to be there and be the part of the Festival
We enjoyed every minute of the happenings there..
Thank you for all efforts and excellent organization. It was great..

Best regards
Ana Misic
City of Nis
Mayor’s Office

Vážení kolegové (a kolegyně),
ještě jednou děkuji za příjemné setkání s přáteli i doping, který festival poskytuje.
Václav Špaček

Dear Katka and Veronika,
Thank for your mail as well as for you great hospitality and assistance before, during and after the festival. 
See you next year!

All the best
Jana Illesova
Public Affairs Specialist

Public Affairs Section
U.S. Embassy, Bratislava, Slovakia

Zdravím do Košíc !

ještě jednou děkuji za příjemnou atmosféru na festivalu u vás, je to jedno z pevných míst ve vesmíru. A navíc je tam příjemně.

Už jsem začal něco dělat s materiálem natočeným na festivalu, dokonce se mi už ozvala i jedna Běloruska, jak jsem pro ně točil, snad ta moje iniciativa byla k něčemu. Ale to jeden nikdy neví...a snad je to dobře.

Mějte sa tam jak se dá, nejlépe dobře.

Miloslav Hlavsa
MHtv - výroba audiovizuálních pořadů

Thank you very much for everything. The back was exhausting but I have a lot of good moments lived in Kosice. I hope to see you soon.

Isabel Martinez

Dear Veronika and Eva,

I am back in Aix-en-Provence and I thank you for your welcome in Kosice. Three days, so short but so intense...
I wish you an excellent Festival and I hope that the participants to the workshop will make good video programmes!

Kind regards
Thierry Michel

Thanks for all !!! Best regards from France

Vincent Aguano

thanks for everything, it was very a good festival, good organisation, and the last evening was very cool.

Matthieu Boivineau

Community Media through the Eastern European Lens

This past week I’ve been traveling through Slovakia, starting in Bratislava talking with the editors of the English Language Slovak Spectator, then moving onto the University in Trnava, to explore the school of communication, and finally for the last four days in Kosice, where I’ve been participating in the International Festival of Local Televisions (iFolt). The festival has been quite pleasant. I’ve had the opportunity to serve on the international jury selection committee, watching some great (and some not so great…) short form film, documentary, and local news pieces from all over Europe, but primarily in the Balkan region. I’ve also had the opportunity to listen to some very interesting research about the Velvet Revolution, and learn much of the vibrant and recent history of that period as told through a Slovak-perspective. As my host from the US Embassy put it, “From 1989 to today, we’ve swung from one extreme (communism) to the other (hyper-capitalism).” While Slovakia tries to make sense of its new found economic and political freedoms (it still struggles with corruption, materialism, and excess…but then again, don’t we all?), one of the major areas of revolution and still unsettled change is local media.

I was invited here to talk about media literacy and empowering civic voices. I’ve met with a range of folks from a range of professional and educational industries. After talking with them (over countless hospitable beverages), I realized media literacy here is already something the Slovaks are passionate about in the education industries, but still needs to make its way into discussions on community media, local programming, and citizen dialog in general.

The majority of practitioners at iFolt are entrenched in creating great content and also in the main questions and challenges it seems the world is facing in community media: how will we operate in 5-10 years (or sooner)?, how OR will we exist with less and less support?, and how do we reach younger generations who can’t listen and don’t want t?

All generations of media producers here seem to understand the need to really engage their constituents with participatory approaches to media production, but often get mired in the aforementioned challenges. There are three points where I think community media and media literacy stands to help the situation throughout this region:

1. ReFrame the conversation from what’s lost to what’s ahead – This has been preached for some time now, but it can never be said enough. The conversation must start from what opportunities lie ahead (arguably more than ever) instead of how difficult it has become to have the support and infrastructure that once was and is no longer. This is a vital point and it needs to evolve into how community media can take advantage of the now seemingly endless ways to offer great content, service, dialog, and voice to their community. 2. It shouldn’t just be “local televisions” – Implicit in the title of the festival itself is the medium, which is breaking down. In the participatory media project that happened parallel to the festival, the street reporters found overwhelming public shift to the internet as the main source of all content. If this is the case, local media needs to respond. And participatory media isn’t just about having people learn how things work, and then creating linear content themselves (which is too often the case). It’s about people finding ways to empower communities, like collaborative efforts, goals, incentives, programming, etc. There is a need to make things participatory from the ground up. 3. Local media needs to form strong partnership with community stakeholders…ahem, universities – I talked for a while with Erik Mollberg, the Assistant Manager of the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, IN. He is doing some great work providing resources and space for the public to produce, create, share, and express through the community media operation run there. It seems that the community media outlets need to form stronger partnerships with public spaces, including libraries (public and school) and the university. What a way to use the pulse of new technology (students) for public media. It makes total sense but is often not taken advantage of. Take a look at the GR Tag Tour started by the community media center in Grand Rapids, MI. What a great way to enable youth, community, and media to thrive.

The festival aptly gives out the Golden Beggar Award, based on the old myth of a kind beggar in Kosice who saved enough of his earnings to build a magnificant home in the middle of the city. It’s an apt title for the current state of local and community programming. But if we want to reframe how we think about the future of community and participatory media in an age of less traditional support but a more vibrant public, it may be high time to see the Golden Beggar not before he built his house, but after.

Paul Mihailidis