by Visra Vichit-Vadakan
Once a year, Park City is transformed into a bustling film
hub.  It’s hard to imagine that
this sleepy ski town could be transformed into a star-studded show down with
film screenings, art installations, industry workshops, and of course- parties
starting early in the day and ending early in the morning.
For a film student studying in the United States, Sundance
Film Festival is the Holy Grail of film festivals.  Over 9.000 films are considered for the 250 slots for short
films and feature films screened during one week in January. Sundance 2010 was
my first Sundance experience.  I
was the actress in a short film, “The Visitors“,  that was selected to screen
alongside 5 other shorts during the festival.

At the festival, I was mostly interested to learn about the
network of support that Sundance Film Festival created for the young and
upcoming filmmakers attending. 
Most helpful were the daily workshops on various aspects of the business
and future of filmmaking that the festival held at large venues scattered
throughout the city.  Apart from
the film festival, the Sundance Institute also supports young emerging
filmmakers through writing workshops, directing workshops, and finding funding
for feature films.
After Sundance, I flew to the Netherlands for the
International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR).
IFFR was established in 1972 and has a rich history of
supporting young filmmakers through various funds and grants but also by
connecting them to the right industry people.  To this day, they remain one of the largest film festivals
in Europe that focuses on emerging talent. 
Two short films that I wrote/directed, “rise,” and “In Space
were screened there.
The festival was incredibly supportive of its
filmmakers.  Apart from the
workshops similar to the ones that Sundance Film Festival offered, IFFR
scheduled meetings for us with industry professionals who acted as mentors for
us throughout the festival.
As a Reynolds Fellow, I am interested in starting a network
of support for your emerging artists in Thailand and Southeast Asia and I am
considering starting a mentoring program that could expand into an event based
showcase similar to a film festival that would springboard young careers and
connect them to potential business partners and funders.
Any thoughts?

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