Our good friend Cila has cast her eye over this years Ibiza International Music Summit and the International Film Festival and reviewed them. We hope her analysis is taken in the spirit it deserves.
Not many places the size of Ibiza can boast an International Music Summit or an International Film Festival, much less put on both in one weekend. Yet that’s exactly what happened over the first weekend in June. The array of stars, screenings, parties and panel discussions made for an exciting few days. At their best, both highlighted Ibiza’s creative potential. However, they also revealed that changes need to be made before Ibiza can claim its rightful place as a destination for international conferences and events.
When the sun is shining and the Mediterranean is washing the beaches in little ripples of turquoise, Ibiza doesn’t need a tourist board. The island is its own best advertising and judging from the reaction of the guests at the Ibiza International Film Festival they were more than impressed. Jury member Bill Forsyth remarked “I can’t believe I’ve never been here before.” Actor Jimi Mistry was at the festival to present his documentary And the Beat Goes On – a visual love-letter to spirit of the island that left locals, for once, delighted with how Ibiza was presented.
One definite coup on the part of the IFF was using the stunning, eco-friendly Aguas de Ibiza hotel to house the visiting directors and celebrities. Its cool white interiors, high-technology design and stylish Art Deco exterior are an example of Ibiza at its best. It is a pity, however, that more effort wasn’t made to give the guests a chance to see the many sides of the island. The unofficial wrap party at Can Talaias, in the lush campo outside of Sant Carles offered at least a glimpse of Ibiza’s stunning natural beauty, but apart from that the delegates were centred in Santa Eularia – with the screenings at the Palacio de Congresos directly opposite Aguas de Ibiza, and evening events at the Cardamom Club and nearby Casa Colonial. They are all fine locations but they hardly capture the breadth of Ibiza.
The guests are filmmakers from around the world – why not show them the sheer variety and photogenic potential of the island? Why send them home without seeing Es Vedra, the sparkling waters of Ses Salinas and historic Dalt Vila? It would cost almost nothing to hire a couple of nice cars, a guide and whisk the guests out on a tour and the potential returns in terms of publicity and perhaps even future film projects are enormous.
The International Music Summit is in a rather different situation, given that its delegates are largely people who already know and love the island. This does not mean there shouldn’t be an effort made to present the island in its best light. Last year the IMS ran in several venues across the island, including Atzaro, the Fenicia and Pacha, giving visitors an opportunity to see more of the island. This year all the daytime events were based at the Gran Hotel, which meant limited opportunities for delegates (from 29 countries) to get out and explore. Closing the weekend with a Basement Jaxx concert within the walls of Dalt Vila was a spectacular send-off that set tongues wagging for all the right reasons.
Looking at the IMS and the IFF as a whole it seems there are two options when it comes to organising events in Ibiza. Either throw vast amounts of time, money and energy into organising polished events to a London/New York/LA standard or accept that the island’s mañana attitude is part of its charm and aim for a more relaxed event.
Both the IMS and IFF aspire to high-gloss, but across the weekend struggled to deliver a five-star experience. The International Music Summit provided a nurturing environment for delegates but press found itself battling barely controlled chaos. One journalist arrived and asked to be directed to the press room only to be told by the publicist that they didn’t know where it was. Eventually, the journalist happened across it entirely by accident – tucked away behind an unmarked door. Other members of the media quailed at having to pay five-star prices for drinks, wondering aloud if they could expense their five-euro espressos. Given the excellent quality of the catering at the hotel, the IMS could easily have arranged for a water-and-coffee trolley at the back of the conference room.
The International Film Festival struggled to bridge the gap between its ambitions and the realities of on-the-ground organisation. With a red carpet unfurled between the lanky pine trees and risers set up optimistically for bustling photo calls it had the rather awkward feel of a kid wearing grown-up clothing. With utmost respect to the hard work of the organisers and volunteers, who sweated blood to make the festival run as smoothly as it did, the IFF is not exactly Cannes.
The increasingly haggard faces of the organisers as the weekend went on bore witness to the strain of trying to impose red carpet glamour on Ibiza’s sandy shores. Notably, the visitors were an easy-going lot, ready to be charmed by the island. Late-running press conferences, last-minute cancellations and moments of general confusion were taken with shrugs and smiles.
As the locals know, this is an island where time and chance tend to play havoc with the most carefully laid plans. In light of that, why not ditch the glitz and embrace the raffish charm of Ibiza instead? Have a red carpet, if absolutely necessary, but encourage everyone to walk it in bare feet. Instead of wallet-stinging €75 sit down dinners throw a €15 all-you-can eat buffet next to the sea, featuring locally sourced food. One notable omission in the food department was a lack of cinema snacks. Apart from a small bar serving there were no refreshments at the screenings. A job-lot of sweets, a few crates of Coca Cola and a popcorn maker would have instantly enhanced the atmosphere and helped fend off hunger pangs.
The film festival and music summit were separated by barely 15 kilometres, but may as well have existed on separate planets. With the exception of the local press that flitted between both there was almost no intercourse between the two events. The benign explanation is that each had its own crowd, own goals and own glut of projects. It is closer to the truth to admit that creeping territorialism infected both the IMS and the IFF.
By focusing narrowly on “their” locations and their delegates, each missed opportunities to promote cooperation and creativity. One filmmaker commented on how challenging it is to find good music on a limited budget. How perfect would it have been to set up a joint panel on sourcing and licensing music, presented by the IMS and attended by visitors from the IFF? Equally, Jimi Mistry’s Ibiza documentary would have been great viewing for IMS delegates. Several of his music industry friends made the trip over to Santa Eularia for the screening but there should have been bus-loads of delegates there. It would have been better still if the film had been co-presented by the IFF and IMS, instantly creating a bond between the two organisations.
Ibiza is multi-lingual, which presents challenges and opportunities. One of the notable weaknesses of the International Music Summit is its relentless Anglo-centricness. The publicity materials, including the website, are all in English. Given the location it borders on arrogance to not at least make the information available in castellano for the Spanish press. However, the Consell is equally guilty of linguistic muscle-flexing, presenting a two-hour talk at the IMS entirely in Catalan. Yes, it is the official language. But what is gained – apart from a sense of ideological superiority – by using it as a means of isolating the Consell from the music community? The Consell’s presentation was an opportunity to foster understanding and cooperation but it became a talking point for all the wrong reasons, with baffled delegates wandering out mid-session, hopelessly frustrated.
To its immense credit the IFF had a decidedly more cosmopolitan feel and its press conferences ran in two and sometimes three languages simultaneously. Publicity and press material was a rather random mix of English and castellano, however, and – notably – nothing was offered in German. A simple tri-lingual flyer with summaries of the screenings would have been an excellent publicity tool. Simply making more information available would have helped remedy the biggest problem the festival faced: lack of attendance. Passers-by looking for information on screening times had to rely on volunteers photocopying and handing out the unofficial film rotas. Visiting media pointed out that neither the Santa Eularia tourist office nor the main office of the Palacio de Congresos had any information about the event, and the Diario de Ibiza printed an incorrect schedule of events. The upshot was a lot of empty seats in the screening auditorium which is a shame given the excellent quality of films on offer.
The Ibiza International Film Festival and the International Music Summit are both inspirational, exciting events with huge potential to showcase the best of Ibiza. Ideally they will continue to thrive and improve. As demonstrated by the trials and triumphs of this year’s events they have much to offer – and there is also room for improvement. It would be nice to see the organisation in coming years focused on presenting the lesser-known facets of Ibiza, supported by local businesses and enhanced by good communication between organisers, government and delegates and visitors.
The one comment locals heard repeatedly at the IMS and IFF was “wow, you’re so lucky to live here!” By building on that instant reaction both the film festival and the music summit have the golden opportunity to share that luck with the world at large – creating creative partnerships that benefit everyone.