Training Courses

Developing Your Film Festival 2021

23/02/2021 - 26/03/2021

Applications for Developing Your Film Festival (DYFF) 2021 are now closed. 

Now in its tenth year, DYFF is an intensive programme for film festival professionals, taught by some of the world’s experts on taking your festival to the next level. If you want the next edition of your film festival to have a bigger audience, stronger international reputation and improved sponsorship and partnerships, this course was designed for you. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the film festival industry worldwide — it has never been so important to secure funding, know your audience and build a sustainable business model for your festival.

The course is 100% recommended by our participants, which include over 190 film festivals from around the world.


23/02/2021 - 26/03/2021


€750 (scholarships available)

About the course

Developing Your Film Festival is taught interactively by experts from the Independent Cinema Office as well as key festival staff from the best festivals from around the world (in the past, we have welcomed representatives from the Berlinale, Hot Docs, Rotterdam, Toronto and many more). Delegates come away with a clear strategy that they can implement immediately, as well as new contacts from festivals around the world. Scroll down to see the list of confirmed speakers for 2021.

New format for 2021
This course will be delivered live online due to the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Course schedule
Sessions will take place Tuesdays and Fridays between 13:00 – 15:00 GMT. There will also be webinars hosted every Wednesday at 13:00 – 14:00 GMT for the duration of the course. These will cover a variety of case studies that will be confirmed at a later date.

Week 1: Tuesday 23, Wednesday 24 and Friday 26 February
Week 2: Tuesday 2, Wednesday 3 and Friday 5 March
Week 3: Tuesday 9, Wednesday 10 and Friday 12 March
Week 4: Tuesday 16, Wednesday 17 and Friday 19 March
Week 5: Tuesday 23, Wednesday 24 and Friday 26 March

Course content
On the course delegates learn practical lessons about:

  • Sponsorship
  • Partnerships
  • Audience development
  • Programming
  • Press strategy
  • Income building

Our programme will cover relevant issues and challenges festivals are facing due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and its impact going forward.

Fees: €750 for live online training
This includes live training sessions, course materials, select preview film screenings, one-to-one sessions and networking opportunities.

Technical requirements
To attend this live training online, you will need a computer or laptop with a webcam and a microphone. The course will be conducted through Zoom.


The fee for attending DYFF2021 is €750.

We have scholarships of up to €500 available to help those most in need take part.  

You can apply for a scholarship as part of the application process at the bottom of this page. Scholarships are allocated on a first come, first served basis so early applications are encouraged.

Please note, due to funding agreements, priority for scholarships will be given to film festival professionals working for not-for-profit organisations with an annual turnover of less than €400,000 from low capacity countries (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia) or non-EU countries that participate in the Creative Europe MEDIA Programme. This Scholarship is also open to freelance film festival professionals whose financial circumstances would otherwise prevent them from participating in the training.

If you have any further queries about scholarships, please email James on


100% of participants questioned said they would recommend Developing Your Film Festival (DYFF) to a colleague or peer

100% of respondents said the course was ‘very relevant’ or ‘relevant’ to their job and career development

100% said the overall organisation of the course was either ‘excellent’ (77%) or ‘good’ (23%)

96% rated the speaker’s expertise as ‘excellent’

What our participants say:

“Our sponsorship income has increased significantly – it has grown by 1360% since I did the course!” – Juliet Tweedie, Edinburgh International Film Festival, UK

“All the sessions are very well taught and the speakers are really the best in their fields. Most unforgettable training I’ve ever had” – Andhika Annas Satria, Europe on Screen, Indonesia

“Our overall ticket sales increased by 30%” – Ornela Cop, Animafest Zagreb, Croatia

“Since attending DYFF, we’ve trebled annual turnover of the festival, implemented a five year strategic plan, received international attention and acclaim for our projects and had 79% capacity at last year’s festival.” – Holly Tarquini, Bath Film Festival, UK

“It calibrated my work: what we are doing right, what we are doing wrong and how to move forward.” – Nita Deda, Dokufest, Kosovo

What our speakers say:

“I’ve really noticed that within Developing Your Film Festival over just four days you can take your film festival to the next level.” – Jennifer Frees, former Vice President, Partnerships, Toronto International Film Festival

“It’s not only about training, it’s about collective problem solving. Having this platform where you can exchange ideas is fantastic.” – Sten-Kristian Saluveer, Industry Director Black Nights Film Festival, Estonia

“There’s such an appetite from the people here. There’s such a need for this course. It’s amazing.” – Wendy Mitchell, Contributing Editor, Screen International and delegate for San Sebastian and Zurich film festivals


Cameron Bailey

Co-Head and Artistic Director, Toronto International Film Festival

Cameron Bailey is the Co-Head and Artistic Director of TIFF and the Toronto International Film Festival®. He is responsible for TIFF’s programming and curatorial vision, as well as maintaining relationships with the Canadian and international film industries. Bailey grew up in England and Barbados before migrating to Canada. He began his career as a film critic, then joined TIFF in 1990 as a seasonal programmer. At TIFF he headed the Festival's Perspective Canada program, and founded its Planet Africa section in 1995. For 20 years he worked as both programmer and critic, contributing to Toronto’s NOW Magazine, CBC Radio One, and CTV’s Canada AM . He has been published in The Globe and Mail , The Village Voice , and Screen , along with several books. In 2015, Bailey participated in CBC's Canada Reads competition, successfully championing Kim Thuy’s novel Ru. Bailey has taught film curation at the University of Toronto, and holds an honorary doctorate from Western University. He is a Chevalier in France's Order of Arts and Letters. For eight consecutive years (2012–2019), Toronto Life magazine has named him one of Toronto’s 50 Most Influential People.

Maori Karmael Holmes

Artistic Director and CEO, Blackstar

Maori is a curator, filmmaker and writer. She founded BlackStar in 2012 and serves as its Artistic Director and CEO. She has organized programs in film at a myriad of organizations including Anthology Film Archives, Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), The Underground Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. As a director, her works have screened internationally including her feature documentary Scene Not Heard: Women in Philadelphia Hip-Hop (2006). She has also directed and produced works for, Visit Philadelphia, and singer-songwriter India.Arie. Her writing has appeared in The Believer, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, and How We Fight White Supremacy: A Field Guide to Black Resistance. Maori received her MFA in Film & Media Arts from Temple University and her BA in History from American University. She currently serves on the board of American Documentary (POV), Asian Arts Initiative, the advisory boards of Ulises, Vidiots, and Lightbox Film Center; and is a member of Brown Girls Doc Mafia, The Community Board, and Programmers of Color Collective. Maori was a 2019-2020 Soros Equality Fellow and serves as Mediamaker-in-Residence at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, Curator-at-Large at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and a Creative Executive with Blackbird.

Jennifer Frees

Senior Vice-President, Business Development, Toronto Region Board of Trade

Jennifer Frees has diverse fundraising, marketing, brand development, and strategic partnership experience in both for-profit and non-profit sectors. Her innovative projects have won marketing and design awards for highly regarded international brands, as well as generating over $180M for her non-profit clients. Jennifer joined the Executive Leadership Team at the Toronto Region Board of Trade in October 2020 in the role of Senior Vice-President, Business Development, where she leads the revenue-driving Commercial unit (Membership, Marketing, Events, and Partnership teams). Until this Fall, Jennifer served as Vice President, Partnerships at TIFF, where she led a team of Canada's strongest partnership and events industry professionals and one of the most successful partnerships programs in the film festival world. Jennifer is an internationally sought-after business development speaker and workshop facilitator, and provides senior sales, negotiation, and business development advisory services for a variety of charitable causes close to her heart.

Marcin Pienkowski

Artistic Director, New Horizons International Film Festival

Since 2016, Marcin has been Artistic Director of New Horizons International Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland. He is also a lecturer, film historian, editor and co-author of several books about film (Billy Wilder; African American Cinema; Documentary Methods in Film). Between 2011-2015 he was a spokesman and director of PR & marketing of New Horizons IFF, American Film Festival and New Horizons Cinema in Wroclaw – the biggest arthouse cinema in Europe. He has worked as a communication strategist for many Polish film productions, including high-profile artistic films as well as successful blockbusters.

Algirdas Ramaška

CEO, Vilnius International Film Festival

Algirdas Ramaška is the CEO of Vilnius International Film Festival ‘Kino Pavasaris’ – the largest cinema event in Lithuania. He has over 15 years of experience working in the film sector, with a skill set that covers cultural event organization, film distribution, communication, marketing and sponsorship. A. Ramaška also organizes the international industry event Meeting Point – Vilnius and runs Kino Pavasaris Distribution. He consults other film festivals and cultural institutions on organizational matters, lectures at international seminars, and sits on the board of experts at major cultural organizations. He focuses on creative decision-making in his work – a skill that was incredibly useful while reorganizing the 25th edition of Vilnius IFF as a digital festival due to the coronavirus pandemic. The team succeeded in making this happen within just one week, to great results. Algirdas is most passionate about cinema and cycling, which complement one another by providing him with the creative energy necessary for everyday tasks.

Sven Schwarz

Managing Director, Hamburg International Short Film Festival

Since 2011 Sven Schwarz has been the managing director of the Hamburg International Short Film Festival (Kurzfilm Festival Hamburg), where he also curates special programs and thematic screenings. He has been working with film festivals since the early 2000s and is also a member of the Hamburg based mobile-cinema group A Wall is a Screen. Sven Schwarz frequently gives lectures and workshops about film-festivals and has been a member of several juries at international film festivals.

Gloria Zerbinati

Film Publicist (International Film Festival Rotterdam, FIDMarseille, DocLisboa, Visions du Réel, Sheffield Doc/Fest)

Gloria has worked for more than a decade in Film Festival press for several international film festivals including Venice, Rotterdam and Locarno. She currently handles international press for IFFR (International Film Festival Rotterdam), FIDMarseille, La Roche Sur Yon Film Festival, DocLisboa, Visions du Réel in Nyon, Sheffield Doc/Fest, International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg, and the Bergamo Film Meeting. She has also acted as Feature film publicist for directors including Laurie Anderson, Shinya Tsukamoto, Cristi Puiu, Roberto Minervini, Lois Patiño, Rita Azevedo Gomes, Amir Naderi, and Pema Tseden.

Wendy Mitchell

Contributing Editor, Screen International and Editor, EFAs Close-up. Moderator/Festival Consultant (Rotterdam, San Sebastian, Zurich, Goteborg)

Wendy Mitchell is a journalist, moderator and film festival consultant. She is a contributing editor at Screen International (where she previously served as editor in chief) and is the editor of the European Film Academy's Close-up magazine. She is the Nordic and UK delegate for the San Sebastian International Film Festival, a consultant for the Zurich Film Festival and Zurich Summit, Connext by Flanders Image, Goteborg's Nordic Film Market and TV Drama Vision, and CPH:DOX. In the US, she previously worked on staff at Entertainment Weekly, indieWIRE, Time Inc and Rolling Stone. Her website is

Sarah Boiling

Freelance Consultant, Sarah Boiling Associates

Sarah is a freelance consultant based in London, specialising in bringing culture and people closer together. Her work includes strategy and planning, research and evaluation, and facilitation and training. She has held senior positions in some of the UK’s most innovative cultural organisations including Broadway Media Centre, Tate, The Audience Agency and the Barbican, and, since 2015, she has been working as an independent consultant. Sarah works with independent cinemas, and more widely across the cultural sector, and recent projects have included large scale quantitive research into the film watching and cinema going habits of under 30s in Northern Ireland for Film Hub NI and evaluation of the BFI FAN ’New Release Strategy’. She is a regular contributor to the ICO’s programme of professional development and to the annual CICAE Art Cinema = Action + Management course, and has worked with the British Council in Georgia, Russia, Malaysia and Greece. Sarah is also an accredited coach and Action Learning Facilitator.

Catharine Des Forges

Director, Independent Cinema Office

Catharine has spent over 20 years working in the exhibition sector for a variety of organisations including the BFI and Arts Council England. She has worked as a freelance programmer and arts consultant, and programmed for festivals and cinemas both in the UK and internationally. She has lectured on film at a number of UK universities and is a regular contributor to industry events and a frequent filmmaker Q&A host. Catharine founded the ICO in 2003 and has been its Director ever since.

David Sin

Head of Cinemas, Independent Cinema Office

Over the past 25 years, David has worked as a Programmer, Consultant and Distributor, on occasions two or three of these at the same time. From 1998-2002, he was Director of Cinema at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) where he programmed an award winning season of Japanese experimental film, increased admissions by 100% and also made a success of the ICA’s cutting edge distribution company; releasing over 40 films including Ring, A One and a Two and Kandahar. Whilst Head of Content at the British Film Institute, he co-produced a screening of Borderline staged at the Tate Modern Turbine Hall; and A Throw of Dice with a live orchestra in Trafalgar Square.


How do I apply to attend the course?

Applications for the 2021 edition of the Developing Your Film Festival training programme are now open. You can apply through the application section of this page below.

Will the course be affected by Brexit?

The funding that we have received from Creative Europe to support this iteration of the course has been confirmed despite the UK no longer being part of the European Union.

Are festivals from outside of Europe able to attend the training?

Although the course is primarily funded by Creative Europe, we still welcome applications from candidates representing festivals that take place in any country.

Previous participants on the course have represented festivals from Japan, Peru, Nepal, the USA and Mexico.

Am I eligible to attend the course?

We welcome applications from staff members from established film festivals all over the world.

There are no restrictions on the type of film festival you represent. Previous participants have come from events such as ZagrebDOX, CPHPix and Edinburgh International Film Festival. You may be in a paid / unpaid, freelance or directorial position at your festival but must be in a position to influence change in your organisation.

You must have been working in festivals for a minimum of two years and be based at an established festival or event that has been running for at least two years and has at least 5,000 admissions. Applications may still be considered from festivals operating within low capacity countries with a smaller admissions figure. If you are a UK-based festival with under 5,000 admissions you may be eligible to apply to our Film Festival Roundtable, which is running from 18 March – 22 April.

All sessions will be conducted in English, so you must have a high level of fluency in written and spoken English.

What is included within the course fee?

The fees are €750.

This includes live training sessions, course materials, select preview film screenings, one-to-one sessions and networking opportunities.

Where is the course taking place?

This course will be delivered live online due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

How long will it take for a decision to be made on my application?

Decisions will be communicated no later than four weeks after applications are received.

How will the decisions be made on applications?

Each application will be assessed by two members of senior ICO staff, who will then discuss and finalise the decision.

We welcome applications from staff members from established film festivals all over the world.

There are no restrictions on the type of film festival you represent. You may be in a paid / unpaid or freelance position at your festival but must be in a position to influence change in your organisation. You must have been working in festivals for a minimum of 2 years and be based at an established festival or event that has been running for at least 2 years.

All sessions will be conducted in English, so you must have a high level of fluency in written and spoken English.

Who should I contact if I have any further questions?

If you have any further questions about the course, then please get in touch with us via email at the following address:


What do I need to attend the training online?

All you need to attend this training is a computer or laptop with a webcam and microphone, as well as a stable internet connection. The course will be conducted through Zoom.

If you have any accessibility requirements that would help you attend the course, please do let us know during the application process.

With the support of the Creative Europe Programme - MEDIA

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