Esperanto Language Blog

Esperanto Film Festival to attract amateur authors Posted by on Apr 7, 2011 in Movies

Esperanto culture mostly lives in the world of text. Attempts to professionally produce Esperanto audiovisual and television materials haven’t really had much success so far. Copyright limitations also hinder the production of Esperanto versions of already existing content. However, in principle, modern technology levels the playing field, giving everyone the chance to produce their own short films. To encourage this kind of creativity, Aleksander Osintsev, the founder of the excellent website Verda Filmejo initiated the first Esperanto Film Festival, “Film Art Without Borders,” taking place in Brazil in June 2011. Here he tells the story of the background of the festival for Libera Folio, translated into English by Chuck Smith for Transparent Language.

Current non-contest schedule

In the past few decades, the world has lived in audiovisual dimensions, where one conveys and perceives audiovisual information. Unfortunately, the audiovisual culture of Esperanto hasn’t really evolved, which gives the outside world every right not to notice the Esperanto movement, which still lives in a world of text. There are really only a few ways to enrich this part of Esperanto’s culture given conditions today.

In TEJO-Tutmonde, I already tried to analyze the current situation and concluded that the main barrier for Esperanto film production is not a lack of funding and skilled people capable of fluently and professionally speaking Esperanto, but rather a lack of original ideas, and it is less important that a small number of Esperanto speakers passionately make movies either as an amateur or professional.

Since Esperanto movies cannot hope to be broadcast on TV, that limits potential viewers to those who are willing to buy expensive DVDs or successfully watch questionably legal showings of films with subtitles at Esperanto events. Speaking about production, we can look at “Imagu-Filmoj” and “Internacia Televido.” These are companies who once intended to professionally create films or modern audiovisual culture. Unfortunately, they miscalculated the distribution channels for their works, badly dealt with specifics of the Esperanto community and in the end failed.

Copyright limitations are an important problem for Esperanto culture, as I declared in a Kontakto article: Ĉu kopirajto mortigas Esperanton? I pessimistically approached the current state of the Esperanto market from the viewpoint of external film production and distribution companies, the existing methods for distributing culture and the poor quality of the current audiovisual culture in Esperanto, so that the “cruel world” will be indifferent to the Esperanto community in this context.

But we would be giving up twice, if we let ourselves keep complaining in Esperanto blogs and websites, not trying to use the most modern distribution methods for culture and to stimulate its creativity, which are now becoming more and more popular. I believe Esperanto speakers are not right to give up self-expression through video and I would like to propose an absolutely new format for a cultural event, which hasn’t yet existed in the Esperanto community. At the same time, it’s one of the rarest possibilities to adapt and show modern internationally-renowned films in Esperanto.

An Esperanto film festival could stimulate creating Esperanto audiovisual culture and show the world a wonderful demonstration of international communication without limits, through resources which are currently used to advertise and spread valuable ideas. This kind of cultural event could show the practical and useful side of Esperanto usage and present it in a dignified way to the non-Esperanto public.

The first film festival of its kind will take place on July 10-13, 2011 in Sao Paulo, Brazil during 3 large Esperanto congresses: Esperanto Congress of the Americas (TAKE), Brazilian Congress of Esperanto and the Brazilian Esperanto Youth Congress. From the beginning, I’ve had many requirements for the film festival. The event format must be open to every Esperanto speaker and be based on participation from amateur authors, because modern technology lets everyone who has a cell phone camera, ordinary camera, videocamera and a computer with an Internet connection to become known to large social groups which distribute information along through their social networks, blogs and websites.

The event must be presented with dignity online to give it as much chance to promote it as possible. Films produced must exclude the need for expensive proprietary programs for editing, so films should be short. Short films which have significant amounts of written text (subtitles, etc.) or spoken (dialogs, monologs and separate words) must be in Esperanto, which pushes people to start learning the language or at least become interested in using it as a creative tool.

Every non-Esperanto speaker may participate, by hearing about it in another language than Esperanto (the website is currently also in English and Portuguese). The festival must use modern distribution methods, so that short films must be attributed with one of the Creative Commons licenses. The prizes for winners must certainly be worth winning. Finally, the amount of videos from a single author cannot be limited due to their short length.

Only time and the enthusiasm of coordinators and participants will tell whether the project becomes popular to let us participate in such a rich cultural event. But already now, anyone can follow the preparations and participate in the contest at and win prizes, such as an iPod Touch.

–Aleksander Osincev, creator of Verda Filmejo and coordinator of Film Without Borders

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About the Author: Chuck Smith

I was born in the US, but Esperanto has led me all over the world. I started teaching myself Esperanto on a whim in 2001, not knowing how it would change my life. The timing couldn’t have been better; around that same time I discovered Wikipedia in it’s very early stages and launched the Esperanto version. When I decided to backpack through Europe, I found Esperanto speakers to host me. These connections led me to the Esperanto Youth Organization in Rotterdam, where I worked for a year, using Esperanto as my primary language. Though in recent years I’ve moved on to other endeavors like iOS development, I remain deeply engrained in the Esperanto community, and love keeping you informed of the latest news. The best thing that came from learning Esperanto has been the opportunity to connect with fellow speakers around the globe, so feel free to join in the conversation with a comment! I am now the founder and CTO of the social app Amikumu.


  1. Jorge Tarducci:

    Tre bona ideo la kinofestivalo ! Chiam antauen !