NewsCultureSIGNIS and Cinema: My Experience as Jury Member

SIGNIS and Cinema: My Experience as Jury Member

Interview with Clara Planelles from Uruguay

Since 1947, SIGNIS has been a bridge between the Catholic Church and cinema professionals by participating in international juries at film festivals. Today, SIGNIS organises juries at more than 30 film festivals worldwide, from the best-known, such as Cannes, Berlin, or Venice, to more specialised festivals, such as Mar del Plata, Zanzibar or Tehran.  Over the last years, we have welcomed young people into our association in many different ways, including allowing them to serve on juries at film festivals worldwide.

We invite you to listen to the voice of Clara Planelles, a young Uruguayan filmmaker and photographer who participated in several film festivals with SIGNIS.

Was there any specific moment in your life that was crucial in forming your love for cinema?

Clara Planelles: Yes, in fact, it was the first festival in which I participated. I was only 19 years old, and I was invited to participate as a jury member in the film festival of my city, the International Film Festival of Uruguay. At that time, I was already studying communication, but I was not yet clear that my path would be cinema. That week I saw more than 15 films and different genres of cinema, from student and independent films to the most commercial ones. I saw Russian, Polish, African and Middle Eastern films. My mind was open to concepts that I would not have been able to know if it were not for cinema. I was captivated. I was used to going only to commercial theatres, where the type of story was always very similar. However, this time I was introduced to a way of telling stories that was more human and at the same time more artistic, more connected to the being, and with a pattern to follow to reach success. 

When and how did you find out about SIGNIS?

I found out about SIGNIS at that same festival in 2013. At the time, I only participated as a jury member and then wrote articles about my experience. Then came the BAFICI festival, where I went to Buenos Aires for ten days. There, I not only saw different cinema but also met the directors, producers and actors.

What juries and festivals have you participated in?

I participated in several film festivals: Cinemateca (Uruguay), BAFICI (Argentina), Plural+ Youth Video Festival (UNAOC and IOM), Cinélatino, Rencontres de Toulouse (France), and Prix Italia (Italy).

What does being part of a jury mean to you?

The festival that marked me the most was BAFICI. There, I understood what cinema was capable of, the strength and power it could generate in society. In Buenos Aires, the city lives and breathes with the festival: there are free screenings, outdoor cinemas, social projects, training sessions for students, masterclasses and, at that time, Nanni Moretti was present. And I thought: “Wow, I want to continue doing this kind of things!”. People from all over the world gathered to tell their story, and I felt as if SIGNIS was opening a door to the world. I also connected with SIGNIS because it gave me the answer to what I was looking for, which was to tell stories that connect not only with our essence and our being, but also with our weaknesses and our shortcomings. From there, I knew I had found a place to stay.

Is there a winning film that has marked you the most?

Yes. The film that marked me the most was Estiu 1993 (Summer 1993), which I saw at BAFICI. I had the opportunity to meet the director Carla Simón, with whom I had a lot in common. We kept in touch for a while, and she helped me immensely in my writing process. Besides, the film was awarded by SIGNIS in Argentina and also in Spain, so we connected with our colleagues on the other side of the Atlantic without even knowing it.


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