From July 16th to 18th took place the 7th edition of the Sicily Web Fest, maybe the most known Italian indie festival dedicated only to web series. Since 2015, the SWF has won everyone over with its relaxed and friendly atmosphere, thanks to a team of people that make everybody feel welcome. In its second edition during the pandemic situation, the Sicily Web Fest confirmed itself as a festival where people from the web series community (and from all over the world) can meet, have fun together, network and connect while enjoying their time in Ustica. Yes, with some Covid-19 restrictions, this year, we did not have the screenings, and fewer creators could physically attend the festival, but Sicily Web Fest 2021 ruled in any case. But how was this 2021 edition, and what do we have to aspect for 2022?
SICILY WEB FEST 2021: HOW WAS THE 7TH EDITION?
As we all know, the 2020 edition took place last September, partly online and partly offline due to the pandemic. In 2021 the Covid-19 has not passed yet, but the situation is definitely much more manageable than a year ago, and the Sicily Web Fest 2021 was able to welcome all of us in Ustica once again. Moreover, Covid-19 aside, the festival had also to deal with some unforeseen, like the hydrofoils strike and the really uncertain weather. Of course, no one could predict these types of problems. And, as already said, there were also some Corona Virus restrictions to be respected. So, for example, there were no screenings this year.
Riccardo Cannella, founder and director of the Sicily Web Fest
However, the Sicily Web Fest ruled and allowed the attendees to meet and do some networking all the time there, such as during the boat tour and the island trekking. We can not forget the time spent in the suggestive frame of Ailanto Park, where the award ceremony took place, and where we could talk and listen to the fantastic performance of Mario Mariani.
The 2021 edition moved the award ceremony from Sunday to Saturday, giving the attendees the opportunity to enjoy the last day on Ustica in a much more relaxed way. After the awards night, the SWF gifted everyone with a walk around the island, a fantastic lunch, a lot of networking and some unscheduled chess contests. But, the essential part of this unusual Sunday was the “Educational Session“, where several interesting topics were discussed. With Massimo Arciresi and Piero Tomaselli, interviewed by Cristiano Bolla, creators could enjoy a discussion about “the suspense” in storytelling, while with Rose of Dolls and Oliver Mend the focus was the web series Market “DIMA“.
Mario Mariani did an amazing performance after the award ceremony at Sicily Web Fest on July, 17th
I did some interviews too and got the chance to talk with Caris Vujcec about how to do a pitch. With Joel Bassaget, we had an interesting focus on the situation of web series around the world.
Last but not least, that Sunday in Ustica saw all the web series community having a huge dinner at Faraglione. One of those dinners you usually have at Christmas with that part of the family that is far away for the whole year. So, even with some changes and restrictions due to the Covid-19 situation, the Sicily Web Fest 2021 provided a fantastic experience to its participants.
HOW WAS THE SICILY WEB FEST 2021? THE ATTENDEES POINTS OF VIEW
I wanted to write a different article for this edition, so I decided to ask some attendees on the island what they think about Sicily Web Fest 2021 and what we have to expect – from their point of view – for SWF 2022.
From left to right: Steve Becker, Caris Vujcec, David Calderòn Vizcaya, Marine Assaiante, Kath Wit, Julia Zimth.
Bottom left: Taku Komaya and Theresa Henriette
How was Sicily Web Fest 2021 for the winner of Best Production Design?
Marine Assaiante, actress and creator of “Check, please!”
For Marine Assaiante, creator of “Check, please!“, comedy web series that won the Best Production Design, the “Sicily web fest is a fantastic festival. We had an amazing time. The team is warm, welcoming, and super organized. It’s like entering a family. Ustica is so beautiful, and they make you discover the island and local food, which is delicious! It was perfect, a dream destination, where networking seems so much easier. We met wonderful people and discovered great filmmakers. We’ll have to create a new web series to come back because if we have to choose one festival we want to go back to, this is definitely the one!“
Steve Becker, winner of Best Pilot, said “I loved every minute!”
Steve Becker, creator of “Brazzy Jazzy” and “Lower East Asides” and winner of Best Pilot, told me that “the 2021 festival was awesome. Being “trapped” on an island encourages interaction between creators while not being distracted by other events and tourists. If it were a normal non-Covid festival with authors from all over the world congregated together, the networking and collaborating opportunities would be endless. Nonetheless, the festival was exceptional and the group events/meals spectacular”.
Steve Becker, creator of Brazzy Jazzy and Lower East Asides
Steve has also positive vibes for the 2022 edition and, hoping that Covid-19 will be finally over, “I would encourage more group events, allowing screening of projects either online or in person, and turn the Patrice Hotel dining room into a sort of SWF meeting point/headquarters since almost everyone housed there. With more filmmakers there, the energy level could turn the Hotel Patrice into a creative incubator and international rave festa! Ustica has everything to make SWF the must-go-to festival on the circuit. Bottom line: LOVED EVERY MINUTE!!”
“I enjoyed meeting filmmakers in a different environment”, said Marie Augie, winner of Best Actress
Marie Augie, creator and actress of Adultes
I also ask the opinion of Marie Augie, creator and actress of Adultes, and winner of Best Actress for the role of Marie (of course!) she played in the series written together with Romane Fournier. “I spent an amazing time on Ustica for the Sicily web fest!” she said, “and I enjoyed meeting other filmmakers in a completely different environment from the one we are used to. What I regret and except for 2022 would be to watch other filmmakers’ projects, at least the ones who are present at the festival“.
Taku Komaya, producer of Like in Movies, defined “surprisingly inspiring” the Educational Session
Best Screenplay at Sicily Web Fest 2021 went to Like in movies, a Japanese web series by Yo Komaya. In Ustica, I had the chance to meet Taku Komaya, brother of the creator and producer of the web series. Could I miss the possibility to ask his point of view on the festival? Of course not!
“It was the first time for us to participate at the Sicily Web Fest, and we really enjoyed it. The venue, the beautiful Ustica island, was perfect for making friends with web-series creators from all over the world, exchange information with them, get inspired and so on”, he said. “I know that, because of Covid restrictions, screenings were not possible, but still I would have liked to watch at least some episodes of all the participants; some series are tough to find in the huge ocean which is the worldwide web. In addition to “mingling” with other creators and with the jury members, surprisingly inspiring were the “Educational Sessions”. For example, “Analysis of Web Series around the world” is something we couldn’t listen to on any other occasion. I really appreciated it”.
Taku Komaya, producer of Like In Movies
When I asked him what he does except for the 2022 edition, Taku said: “I hope the general feeling/atmosphere of the festival remains the same as this year: friendly and not too square. It almost felt like I was having fun with friends I know of for a long time, while I hadn’t really met any of them since two days before. There’s some sort of magic in the festival itself, which I hope won’t change”. He also added a wise and inspiring suggestion: “I think the genre “Web Series” will evolve rapidly in a year; there’s always a new technology that influences how we work, and the platforms also might change/evolve. I really hope that Sicily Web Fest will keep an eye on all the innovations and novelties. For the 2022 edition, I would enjoy listening to some experts of new technology had a talk session.
About Sicily Web Fest 2021, the Best Documentary said: “we love that people from all over the world met on a little spot in the middle of the sea”
Kathleen Witt and Theresa Bacza, creators of Overthere
The winner of Best Documentary is Overthere, a German web docu-series created by Kathleen Witt and Theresa Bacza. They were both on the island during the festival, and they fell in love with its atmosphere. “Sicily Web Fest is hosting a very unique and warm community of Web-Filmmakers. Web series are a special kind of filmmaking with very diverse content – as are the people! We love the fact that people from all over the world meet for a very short but intense time on a little spot in the middle of the sea, where the sun is bright, the ocean deep blue and the surrounding typically Italian, moreover Sicilian!
The team of Sicily Web Fest is giving its best to create a special time for us all, and we hope so in the future. If you once get invited, don’t miss visiting Ustica, its great people, and enriching the further editions of the festival with good food and party!”.
For Caris Vujcec, SWF 2021 was a beautiful edition, especially during Covid-19
The continuing series [The Pepper Project] with chapters Pepper: Ricochet, by Caris Vujcec, won Best Sound Design. Caris attended the festival also in 2017, where her series won Best War, Action, Adventure, so she is one of those who could see the enormous efforts made by the SWF staff for assuring the festival atmosphere during Covid-19.
“The edition was beautiful, especially given Covid restrictions on the island. Of course, all the culture and enhancements of activities is a joy for me! I love this aspect and I’am working on finding to have more content for consideration in 2022. I’m still hoping, but maybe opportunity in another capacity to be involved until that time again for another episode“.
Caris Vujcec, creator of [The Pepper Project]
Also, Caris pointed out it was unfortunate that, because of the pandemic situation, the festival was not allowed to have a screening session. “For sure, we were missing the essential trailer night, and I know perhaps it could not have been done in the town with restrictions, but something live amongst participants with content is always key. I missed the opportunity to hear about the series and share mine, but with restrictions, things had to be different. The festival did social media posts with trailers and interviews for hybrid involvement instead, which was a good alternative. It was all a joy, and I’m always so grateful to participate! It’s become one of my top festivals to attend for sure”.
For the founders of Bilbao Seriesland at Sicily Web Fest 2021, “it was fantastic to meet and celebrate the talent, celebrate the world and the international content”
Rose of Dolls and Oliver Mend, founders of Bilbao Seriesland and creators of several web series, like “La Mala Vida” that was in competition at the SWF21, attended also some past editions of the Sicily Web Fest. So they can definitely tell the difference and appreciate every effort and aspect of the festival.
“For the Sicily Web Fest 2021, I would say that it was really nice to be able to travel again. I think it’s the general opinion between the authors that we were so happy to travel to another country again. It was the first time after almost two years to do so… And meeting other creative people is essential, at least in my opinion. It’s been a tough time for being creative people, working in the creative industry. It’s been a struggle to keep doing what we love. We are fighting for it throw these times, and we still plough through all of that”.
“So, even though maybe not so many people showed up, only meeting these creators was amazing. It’s kind of like group therapy in which we all think it’s fantastic to meet and celebrate the talent, celebrate the world and the international content. We loved also the concert of Mario Mariani, but we were a bit sad we couldn’t see some screenings or trailers to connect more quickly with some authors”.
Moreover, not only as creators but also as founders of an indie festival, Rose and Oliver can understand how hard is to create this kind of event, especially during these times: “We support people who keep fighting for creating web fests because it is always hard to do it each year, and with these all difficult conditions imposed by our governments, it’s even harder. So we think it’s so good they managed to do it this year and even last year with people coming into this very remote island, which is, of course, the main highlight of the festival; getting to know a place that would probably never had put a step foot at if it wasn’t for the Sicily Web Fest. So, that’s part of the magic as well”.
The Best Series at Sicily Web Fest 2021 said “The place was magical and I think the jury was very well chosen”.
Last but definetly not least, I also asked the opinion of Julia Zimth, actress, producer, director and writer of Good Monsters, the German web series that won Best Original Score and the Best Series awards. “I found the Sicily Web Fest a very wonderful and unique festival. The team was great, very ambitious, professional and with a good sense of humour. The place was magical, and I think the jury was very well chosen. I would have loved to watch all the selected shows, but I can imagine that it was not allowed because of Covid”. Surely, because of Covid-19 restrictions, what all creators missed were the screenings, but it’s something that was important in the past editions and we are sure will be back when the pandemic is over.
Julie Zimth, writer, director producer and actress for Good Monsters
“I was so happy that we received the award for the best show because I felt that the jury and the team appreciated the core of the show – which was also accessible through the songs – and liked the way the theme was dealt with and told. It’s special because in my opinion Germans often like to take themselves too seriously”, told me Julia and I can tell you: she’s hilarious and does not take herself too seriously. For 2022, “I could imagine that there will be a warm and welcoming tone again and a good networking possibility. Maybe there could be a guideline for the interviews, but everything will be as well organized as it was and maybe there will be more time for the celebration at the award night… Cause there will be no windy storm!”
All the winners of Sicily Web Fest 2021
This article would be incomplete with the list of all the Sicily Web Fest 2021 winners. So, if you did not follow the live twitting we had during the award ceremony on July 17th, here are all the winning web series and creators.
- Best Series: Good Monsters (DE)
- Best Italian Series: Smoke and Mirrors (IT)
- Best Directing: Prisoner (FR)
- Best Screenplay: Like in Movies (JP)
- Best Pilot: Lower East Asides (USA)
- Best Pilot Directing: Youtube Policeman
- Best Animation: Deluxe Motion (FR)
- Best Editing: Love, Guns and Level Up (AU)
- Best Documentary: Overhere (DE)
- Best Sound Design: Pepper Ricochet (USA)
- Best Original Music Score: Good Monsters (DE)
- Best Costume Design: Love, Guns & Level up (AU)
- Best Actor: Miliz! (Miguel Abrantes Ostrowskit – “Helmut”) (DE)
- Best Actress: Adultes (Marie Augeai – “Marie”) (FR)
- Best Supporting Actor: Graceful, Amazing Grace (Ben Wood – “Dad”) (CA)
- Best Supporting Actress: The Communist’s Daughter (Jessica Holmes “Carole”) (CA)
- Best Make-up: The Communist’s Daughter (CA)
- Best Production Design: Check, Please! (FR)
- Best Cinematography: Bastards (FR)
- Best Visual Effects: Russian Cyber Punk Farm (RU)
So, here we are at the end of this long article about the 7th edition of Sicily Web Fest. The second one during this crazy pandemic. To sum up how it was: less hot because of the crazy weather, less crowded because of Covid-19, always full of positive vibes, amazing people, brilliant creators, excellent opportunities for networking, rich in exciting conversations about web series and always one of the best festival for digital series. What to expect for 2022? Always this magical atmosphere, with much more attendees and the return of the screenings night.