Bif&st, the economics of the Bari film festival explained by director Laudadio

3 min read


If the contemporary narration of a territory necessarily passes through the infinite possibilities of the audiovisual, the Puglia of the 2000s is undoubtedly a blockbuster with a very high capacity for industrial attraction. This is said not only by the countless films set in the region, which constantly populate the programming of the big and small screen, but above all by the local data that affects this flourishing production chain. The main driver of Apulia’s high attractiveness is primarily due to the activity of its Film Commission, which with the 5 million euros allocated in the last year for the production of works shot in the region has seen a potential direct impact of over 17.7 million euros and a potential indirect impact of over 35 million. But alongside the flourishing of national and international sets, there are over 30 festivals that deal with dedication to the complex activity of audience development.

Among these, the most significant is undoubtedly the Bif&st in Bari, an event directed by the eclectic intelligence of Felice Laudadio and which arrives tomorrow 16 March at the halfway point of the fifteenth edition. Having started almost quietly in 2009 under the pressure of Nichi Vendola’s council, the Bari event has now reached high profile numbers, exceeding 76 thousand public attendances in a reference area of ​​around 322 thousand people. For 2024 the Bif&st presents 130 events in eight days, focusing on screenings, cinema lessons, meetings, conferences, but above all involving the entire city with a program spread across the key places of the capital.

From the mammoth tribute to Marco Bellocchio – with the screening of all 17 of his films – to the national and international previews, the Bif&st can count on a budget of 1.2 million euros in total, the result of an exhausting symbiotic relationship with the Puglia Region of President Michele Emiliano. «Ours is a job without parachutes», explains Laudadio a few hours before the start of the event. «We live in a double dimension, that of work and that of the certainty of the availability of resources. This year we even reached January 22nd, therefore less than two months from the start of the festival, to be aware of the available budget. To avoid bureaucratic delays, we make use of the experience we have gained: me with 50 years of organizing large events, my collaborators with the exceptional skills they have now acquired”.

The problems of such a random availability of public funding have a direct impact on the strength that Bif&st can have on the market. Such a high potential – just make a comparison with the Rome Film Festival, which has 83 thousand attendees and public donations exceeding 4 million euros – corresponds to the impossibility of being media-appealing months in advance, participating in sector with an already structured program, become even more attractive for users from outside the region who come to the city specifically to follow the event.

The tourism aspect is in fact another positive element of analysis, with hotels and venues full in the pre-holiday period and the coveted objective of deseasonalization excellently achieved. «The hotels in the center», confirms Laudadio, «ensure that 50/60% of their guests are in Bari for the festival. I worked in Taormina, Venice, Rimini, Cattolica, Riccione, all tourist locations, because they are absolutely convincingly equipped with accommodation facilities. In my opinion, in fact, the festival is not a consequence of tourism but is its cause, because it is capable of provoking it. This is the logic with which to work, otherwise the event is crushed by the exclusively tourist dimension.”



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