Thanks to readers contribution, we’ve learned that Talking Shorts (TalkingShorts.com), an online magazine which is funded by the EU, is nothing more than a tool for self promotion.
Publicly claiming that the magazine was created in order to foster “a broader discourse about the art form”, it prominently features films by distribution company Square Eyes which is also mentioned on this website.
For instance, about 50% of the films that the company had picked up for distribution in 2021 and 2022 are featured on the site, some of the films multiple times, and often in “Top 3 of the year…” articles, touting the films as some of the best short films of the year.
There are thousands of short films that are made every year and statistically this is of course impossible, indicating for a statistically significant bias towards films distributed by Square Eyes. The owner of the company, along with other familiar names, are all featured in the online magazine, interviewing each other.
In addition, there are eight short films which are featured on the website for which ‘New Europe Sales’ is doing sales, while Square Eyes is doing “festival strategy” / distribution. These numbers represent almost half of the films that New Europe Sales had worked on during this time:
I Am Afraid to Forget Your Face (Square Eyes & New Europe Sales)
Dustin (Square Eyes & New Europe Sales)
Noir-Soleil (Square Eyes & New Europe Sales)
Warsha (Square Eyes & New Europe Sales)
Sierra (Square Eyes & New Europe Sales)
On Xerxes’ Throne (Square Eyes & New Europe Sales)
In addition to:
Nest (New Europe Sales)
The Water Murmurs (New Europe Sales)
This is, again, highly unusual and a statistical abnormality, indicating that the magazine is not simply writing about short films, but is engaged in some sort of focused promotional activity of films by certain (in this case two) companies.
“Festival strategy” is euphemism for sending out emails to programmers in various festivals to ensure that they actually watch the films so they might be included in their lineup.
Note that there is a direct financial incentive for sales companies to have their films featured on such “magazine” – these articles can then be sent to potential buyers to increase the value of these films, and the potential that they will be picked up for distribution, as they serve as some sort of a “stamp of approval” by supposedly “industry experts.” The “magazine”, on the face of it is “impartial”, servers as sorts of an advertisement, without a full disclosure that it is one. This is especially concerning as many of these films feature on the “best of the year” articles.
This is an example for the subversive use of power/knowledge as described here. In essence, this is a manipulation of knowledge and information for personal gain, and for cementing already established centers of power. The magazine states that it was established by film programmers for high profile European festivals, some of them are mentioned here. One of which, Locarno, is a festival known in the industry to strongly favour films by friends and associates, regardless for their artistic merit. The festival doesn’t even bother to provide a tracking number for submissions and does not bother sending out rejection emails.
In other words, this dishonest control of power/knowledge is practiced by non other than festival programmers themselves, who are fully aware of their actions and their implications. The reason that they are able to do so, openly, is that over the years nepotism, favoritism and conflict of interests within the very insular industry has been completely normalized, which leads to the concentration of power and influence as described here and here.
According to the magazine “Talking Shorts was founded in 2020 by Anne Gaschütz, Daniel Hadenius-Ebner, Emilia Mazik, Niels Putman and Enrico Vannucci.” Enrico is mentioned on our website in relation to another issue involving festival programmers operating a sales agency. As mentioned above, Square Eyes which is already also mentioned on this website, in relation to one of their (now former) employees working as a programmer for the Glasgow Short Film Festival.
This adds to the growing body of evidence indicating that the integrity of the European film industry is being undermined by a select few. These individuals are exploiting their roles within film festivals and organizations for unethical purposes, aiming to increase their own influence and that of their allies within the industry, for personal gain.
Moreover, and perhaps most importantly, they are financing their activities with public funds from European taxpayers.
“Since 2023, Talking Shorts is the official outlet of the European Network for Film Discourse (The END)—which consists of six unique and diverse European film festivals: Filmfest Dresden (DE), Vienna Shorts (AT), Lago Film Fest (IT), FeKK – Ljubljana International Short Film Festival (SI), Kortfilmfestival Leuven (BE) and Vilnius International Short Film Festival (LT)—and is funded by the Creative Europe MEDIA Programme of the European Union.”
We will now be investigating selections in these festivals and how they correlate to films distributed by companies, and individuals, mentioned on the page.
This article will be updated soon with more statistics and information, meanwhile below is a table demonstrating a small portions of the evidence.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Please note that this article is not meant to be an ad hominem attack on any specific person. The individuals mentioned and their positions in various organizations are used as examples for the way that the film industry operates. The positions, roles and professional relationship between individuals are public information. Sources are provided throughout the website. If you would like to report any inaccuracy please do not hesitate to contact us. Our aim is to improve and democratize the film industry by analyzing the way its institutions are set-up. In order to do so, we must list those organizations and the people who work for them or with them, and their relationship with each other. Also, to be clear, there are certainly much bigger fish in the swamp than the individuals listed below but we publish information which is available to us and which was brough to our attention. If you can disclose further information about other individuals or organizations, please contact us.
Is the Integrity of the European Film Industry Compromised?
New Europe Sales: