Marking its fifth anniversary, this year’s Berlin Fashion Film Festival stretched over two days and was as much summit as screening. Panel discussions at the invitation-only event Thursday and Friday hit on topics from marketing to Millennials to licensing music for film and video to the use and abuse of interns in the fashion industry.
Speakers included representatives from retailers Acne, Selfridges and Farfetch, brand strategy agencies Razorfish, Amsterdam Worldwide and Unruly, fashion media concerns Nowness and Vogue Video, and the London College of Fashion.
The festival’s submissions numbered 821, of which 100 were nominated. Those were whittled down to 40 winners in 20 categories by a jury including Berlin designer Michael Michalsky, photographer Rankin, DJ Hell and Vogue Italy senior editor Sara Maino. Awards were handed out Friday night.
Top scorers included Sean Baker’s film for Kenzo, “Snowbird,” which received the nod for Best Major Brand, and Thalia de Jong’s guinea pig grooming short “Golden Boy,” which won the Beauty and Cosmetics category. Best Film Clothing, Footwear and Accessories kudos went to Louis Levy and Grant Curatola’s “Comfort,” made for Louis W. for APC.
The broad range of submissions and winners, which ranged from advertising to art to music video, illustrated the murky demarcations of the genre.
“A fashion film by its definition is a film where people wear clothes, and it’s driven by fashion,” explained director Justin Anderson, who has produced movies for Jonathan Saunders, Giorgio Armani and Agent Provocateur. “The question really as filmmakers is how do you use those clothes to tell a story, and I think that’s what interesting.”
Vogue Video’s Alex Whiting said her team made content, such as Alexa Chung’s “Future of Fashion” series, not mood films that reflected photo shoots or runway looks. Joseph Delaney, programming director of Nowness, concurred.
“Fashion without context isn’t something we’re particularly interested in,” he said. “It needs to be a vehicle to explore character, or story, or some kind of narrative.”
Substance over slick style and big names seemed to be the consensus, with Steve McQueen’s film for Burberry coming in for multiple candid critiques. The burgeoning form still fights to get funded, and needs stay grounded, its creatives say.
“We’re not making art, and I think that’s important to say,” opined Anderson. “It can look like art, it can be artistic. But it’s not art. This is business, and it’s commerce.”