*Toma Enache’s current film, Romania (Photo: Supplied, Toma Enache )

Sathsara Radaliyagoda from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Alesia Mindrut from Babes-Bolyai University Romania discovered the global independent film industry is on the verge of collapse, with promising new talent leaving in droves.

The world’s independent movie industry is being dealt a huge blow, with emerging filmmakers forced out by event cancellations and festival postponements in the wake of COVID-19.

Winner of the prestigious 2019 Independent Producers Indie Film Festival (IPIFF) Enxhi Rista, is in lockdown in Albania and contemplating leaving the industry.

“I completely lost touch with the movie industry, where I was engaged in several projects. Taking part in film festivals was an activity that occupied most of my time.”

“… currently, all film festivals have either been postponed, cancelled or adapted online.”

Independent Australian filmmakers are also reeling from event cancellations with the Australian Women’s Film Festival (AWFF) postponing their 2020 event 48 hours before it was scheduled.

Film producer and representative for the AWFF Kelly Tomasich said: “So much time and effort had gone into the event, but we were not prepared to risk anyone’s health or safety. Everything from programs to trophies [was] ready to go.”

AWFF said that the closure of cinemas has impacted the release of upcoming projects which affects their access to government funding initiatives.

The mainstream film industry in Australia calculates a loss of at least $325 million, while in Romania, film producers believe the industry will suffer a total collapse.

Romanian independent film producer Toma Enache believes the sector was struggling before the pandemic but there are genuine fears of its impending demise.

“The film industry in Romania did not work well even before the pandemic started, due to the fact that Romanians are not film consumers,” he said.

“Because of this pandemic, we interrupted screenings, dozens of screenings that were scheduled.

“There were supposed to be crowded halls… contracts were signed and eventually, none of those came about.”

While the permanent cancellation of film festivals in Romania could signal the death knell for the industry, Kelly Tomasich says there’s still a chance the sector may rebound.

“We are still hopeful we can reschedule [festivals] for later in the year, but that will ultimately depend on when cinemas reopen…and also when people feel comfortable.”

Director of the AFIN International Film Festival Peter Koevari, believes the independent film sector suffers from a lack of appreciation for the importance of art.

“Art is what gives life colour and meaning, and recognition is important,” he said.

— Alesia Mindrut and Sathsara Radaliyagoda @SathsaraRad

*Ms Rista’s and Mr Enache’s comments have been translated from Romanian to English.