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Setting foot in the film industry with the Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival

We talk to graduates Laura Tribaudino and Tessa Duncan about their experiences of the Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival. ESFF 2020 runs from 6th-25th October.

The Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival (ESFF) was founded in 2014 by colleagues in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies at the University of Edinburgh and is now an established annual fixture in Edinburgh's extensive cultural calendar.

Poster for Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ESFF is preparing to hold its 2020 edition entirely online, opening up its programme of film screenings, Q&As, panel discussions and lockdown monologues to audiences around the UK for the first time.

For students and recent graduates in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), the Festival has been an opportunity to apply a range of skills developed over the course of their degrees in Film Studies and Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies.

To mark the launch of this year’s programme, we talked to graduates Laura Tribaudino and Tessa Duncan about why they got involved in ESFF and what they have gained from the hands-on experience of working in a small festival team.

“I found my voice”

Photo of festival volunteers Laura and Tessa
Laura (l) and Tessa (r) at ESFF 2019

It was while working on her Film Studies Masters dissertation in April 2019 that Laura Tribaudino first took up her role as Personal Assistant (PA) to the Festival’s Curator, Marian. A. Aréchaga.

In the 18 months since, the varied position has given Laura the opportunity to “explore different roles within the Festival, from liaising with prospective guests and sponsors, to assisting in the Festival’s diary management and [during its 2019 run] delivering Front of House services for the majority of events.”

Describing the experience as “extremely positive from the very beginning”, Laura says that it has helped her develop multiple practical skills for working in the creative sector - “setting foot in the type of industry I aspire to work in” - complementing her theoretical studies, and giving her the “amazing opportunity to meet directors and actors and discuss their work with them”.

Reflecting on her personal development, Laura says “I really found my voice working for the Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival. I built strong relationships with the organisers, volunteers and guests [and] deepened my ability to take initiative, anticipate needs and meet deadlines effectively while part of a small team.”

The perfect size

Tessa Duncan has recently graduated from LLC with a first class MA Honours degree in Spanish and Portuguese (Distinction in spoken Spanish). She became an ESFF volunteer in her second year at university after hearing about the Festival and thinking it seemed like “lots of fun, and a good opportunity to get involved with something Spanish.” She was also the Producer of the LLC Spanish Play in 2018.

Asked what the Festival added to her study experience, Tessa said that it fitted in very well with what she was studying to degree level, adding “I was able to practice Spanish, watch films in Spanish and meet lots of Spanish speakers. It was a great way to access Spanish culture; through food, film and lots of interesting chats!”

In terms of practical skills, Tessa says “ESFF definitely gives you good customer service and events experience. It is small enough that you are an important part of the Festival as a volunteer, but not too big that you don’t get to enjoy it. It’s definitely made me appreciate film festivals and developed my interest in culture from Spanish-speaking countries."

The seventh edition of the Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival runs online from 6th - 25th October 2020. The programme includes 16 feature films, 11 short films, a series of lockdown monologues, and discussions with industry and academic experts including filmmakers Paula Ortiz, Juan J. Campanella, Polo Menárguez, and Camila Urrutia.

Find out more about ESFF 2020

Are you interesting in studying in LLC?

Our four-year undergraduate degrees include a range of single and joint honours programmes in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies (SPLAS). These programmes are now open for application through UCAS for entry in September 2021. Our postgraduate programmes include taught masters degrees in Film Studies, Film, Exhibition & Curation, and Intermediality, and research-led degrees in SPLAS. These programmes open for application through the University’s online system on 1st October 2020 for entry in September 2021.

Find out more about undergraduate study in LLC

Find out more about postgraduate study in LLC

Related links

Read Director Marian A Aréchaga's top ESFF picks on the Edinburgh Evening News website

Read our interview with ESFF 2018 volunteer, Simon Galván