I came to Syros just one week ago and I have to admit that I have been very surprised by the island in many ways. As a student in media and communication I like to have many cultural opportunities and I was afraid not to find such a variety of possibilities on the island. But an island of 86km² like Syros has a lot to offer. Not to mention the historical, cultural and architectural heritance, the island has a very rich (more or less modern) culture : over 12 art galleries and many Festivals ! The festivals of Syros cover every aspects of the culture : from the traditional food like the Loukoumi festival to the guitar festival… Festivals seem to be very important to promote the culture on the island as we can see it with the cinema.
As a matter of fact, the situation with the cinema in the island is very interesting. There are two cinemas for a population of almost 20 000 inhabitants : the winter cinema, closed during the summer, and the summer cinema for outdoor screenings, closed during the winter. But the few screenings and cinemas do not reflect the interest for the cinema from the inhabitants of the island. There is a huge demand, so two festivals of cinema are taking place every years in Syros : Animasyros, the International Animation Festival and the Agora of the island of Syros created in 2008, and the SIFF (Syros International Film Festival), created in 2012.
The SIFF is a very young festival but even if the festival is only three years old, it has become very quick a big success thanks to the young creators, a group of friends around twenty-five that have known each other for 10 years. It has now reached quite an international recognition, that is why it is able to invite well-known celebrities of the cinema. Before the opening of the 3rd edition of the SIFF on Friday the 3rd, I met Jacob Moe, the managing director and one of the creators, to know more about the initiative of creating this film festival and to ask a few questions about the relations between Syros and movies.
So festivals like the SIFF allow this island to open up by creating innovative centers, and by bringing international visitors. For the local inhabitants, it is also an original way to discover new parts of the island. But more than economical boosters, festivals are a very good way to
keep the cinematic experience alive in a time where the spectators are consuming the movies at home, alone. Festivals seems to recreate the feeling of community and the aura Walter Benjamin declared to be dead with the technological reproduction. In a Festival like SIFF, the screenings become an unique experience, in which the places are almost as important as the movies. Such return to the experience is more and more frequent in the modern cultural politic that may explain the increasing number of festivals all over the world for all different kind of
cultural contents even in the times of economic crisis.