Cinema under the sun.
Sandra Lipski has established a film festival in Mallorca, which celebrates its 10th edition this year.
Nobody really believed it could be done in Mallorca. That Danny DeVito would really be there. It was the end of October in 2016, the small Evolution Film Festival was about to start its 5th edition. And there he was, this world famous, charming small man. He stood on the red carpet next to this tall German woman who seemed like a giant next to him. It was at the local independent cinema, which was saved by a social crowdfunding campaign a couple years earlier. Located in a former slaughterhouse in Palma.
For Sandra Lipski, it was a respectable success at the time, that the Hollywood Star had come to the island. It was the year that Sandra established the Evolution Mallorca International Film Festival (the full name of the film festival) to be taken seriously.
We noticed that we are ready to bring this caliber of filmmakers and that they will fell comfortable. This Wednesday the festival launches its 10th edition. Wim Wenders is the honorary guest. It is the largest and longest running film festival on the island.
Sandra Lipski grew up in Reinickendorf atTegler See. When she was ten, the family moved to Mallorca. “My father was an entrepreneur; he traveled a lot. At some point he decided that he could also work from the island”, the 38-year-old tells us and adds with a laugh: I think he invented this concept of working from home on Mallorca a long time ago. At 18 she went to New York, studied acting, later to Los Angeles, where she studied directing and production. For her thesis she made a short film and wanted to show it on Mallorca. “That's when I found out that there is no festival there. And I asked myself how that could be.”
She wasn't the first to ask this question. Over the past few decades, some have attempted a festival on the island. Their stories are buried in the newspaper archives of the Balearic Islands. The story is always the same: Mallorca is the perfect place - many flight connections, great hotel infrastructure, international flair. Hardly any of these festivals has managed to have a single edition. Many can't even do that.
Lipski believes that excessive ambition is a big problem. "People want to do a Cannes or a Berlinale in the first year. That just doesn't work." Especially since Mallorca, even if it sometimes seems different from a German perspective, is still provincial in Spain. And society, the press and politics tick accordingly. "They take a very close look at what this blonde German is doing there."
That is why it is particularly important to reach the Mallorcans, says Lipski. “They have to be part of the whole. Otherwise, it will remain an event by foreigners for foreigners." Star guests of recent years such as Mads Mikkelsen, Melissa Leo and Asif Kapadia are good for the press and the public image. The presence of names like Toni Bestard, Marga Melia and Jaume Carrio are just as important for the acceptance on the island.
Years ago, Lipski gave the festival the motto "Bridging Cultures Bridging People". It should be a platform where people encounter independent films. The local connect with the international. This is now also recognized outside the limited coasts of Mallorca. The US magazine MovieMaker has been putting Evolution on the list of "50 festivals worth the entry fee" for a few years, which basically says nothing other than that it is worth for filmmakers to show their films here for up-and-coming filmmakers. This year the films came from 80 countries.
Despite the internationality, German films naturally play a major role. "I'm happy to see that actresses like Lilith Stangenberg and Ella Rumpf or directors like Jakob Lass, who are now really becoming well known, were with us years ago with their first projects," says Lipski.
"Sandra Lipski brings films to the island that you wouldn't otherwise see here," says Pedro Barbadillo. He is the head of the Mallorca Film Commission, a public office that deals with film promotion on the island. "And we're starting to see synergies between the filmmakers on the island and those from abroad." The fact that Lipski had an eye on the island as a shooting location from the start is a sign of foresight. Parallel to the festival, Mallorca has developed into a location for filmmakers. The island on which no one wanted to shoot after the promised money for the film "Cloud Atlas" didn't flow has become a hotspot for international productions.
Platforms like Netflix have discovered the island as a filming location. Series like "Turn Up Charlie" with Idris Elba or "White Lines" by "Money Heist" director Alex Pina were filmed here. Filming for the German series "Kleo", which takes place in East Germany in the 1980s, began in August. The Evolution Film Festival accompanied this development. About two years ago, the series "Mallorca Files", a co-production of BBC and ZDF, celebrated its world premiere at the Evolution Film Festival.
In hindsight, Lipski says she can understand why Mallorca didn't have a film festival before. There was no public funding at the beginning. The Mallorca Film Commission, which now also supports it, has only existed since 2016. At that point Lipski had already brought Danny DeVito to the island.
The political development has also helped. For the first time since the 1990s, the Balearic Islands have had a government that was allowed to hold a second legislative period. "I breathed a sigh of relief," says Lipski. "It meant I didn't have to start all over again with the networking." Other cultural projects in Mallorca have collapsed due to a change of government.
The festival is now the full-time job for the mother of a young daughter. She resides on the island half the year and in Los Angeles the other half. Her husband, Rainer Lipski, is a Cinematographer in Hollywood. But through him she found her way back to her birthplace. "His family lives in Berlin. As a result, I spent a lot of time there again and fell in love with this city all over again.”