Since 2009, the Italian Library Association (Associazione Italiana Biblioteche) has held an annual contest honoring short films about libraries. The contest, called “A Corto di Libri,” soon reached country-wide fame, and more than a hundred films participated in the last seven years. This year, the IFLA Section on Metropolitan Libraries partnered with the contest to finance a €1,000 prize (currently about $1,116) in video-making equipment for the best film about public libraries in large cities. The prize was added to the already existing three categories: fiction, documentary and advertising.
The 2016 contest is still open, and the deadline for entries is April 30, 2016. The award ceremony will take place in May at the 29th International Book Fair in Turin, Italy. Read more about the contest and its rules for submission here.
The three categories for entry are fiction, documentary, and advertising. Below are some notable selections from previous years.
Non parlate (dir. Davide Pettarini), which won the first year, tells the romantic story of a librarian and a patron who communicate only through the titles on book covers. Some films can be funny in describing the various types of patrons and their behaviors. This is the case of I lettori (dir. Francesco Minarini), A biblio life (dir. Edoardo Orlandi) and La biblioteca dietro le quinte (dir. Lisa Contini e Alessandra Gaias). Patrons, especially young students who usually spend the whole day in public libraries, are depicted while eating secretly, sleeping, freezing for air-conditioning, looking desperately for a seat, even having sex! Librarians, too, are described in their typical commonplaces and traits. In Lib(e)rando libri (dir. Lorenzo Debernardi), characters from classic literature come to life in front of a patron who is walking around in a public library.
Marius (dir. Chridtine Pawlata and Nicola Moruzzi) is based on an interview to a Roma teenager who learned to read and write Italian thanks to the lessons provided by volunteers in a public library. The public library is “the best place I’ve ever known,” he says—because he does not have to feel ashamed there. It is a story of how public libraries, as nonjudgmental and neutral places, change lives. Paradisi Project describes a group of high school students looking for books and information about the fourteenth century paintings in a chapel in Terni, Italy. The film shows their visits to the city library and archive and their final discovery that art scholars had different interpretations of the paintings through the years.
In the films of this category, public libraries are often presented with interviews to patrons and staff.
Non pago di leggere (dir. Christian Biasco and Francesca Terri) is about the campaign against public lending right introduced by a European Union directive.
In this category, films must be a maximum of two minutes. La biblioteca è +teca (dir. Andrea Pecora) was shot in some of the best Italian public libraries, located in the metropolitan area of Milan. The film effectively represents what you can experience in today’s public libraries: drink coffee, play chess, learn to dance, attend a concert, read while biking, etc. Scegli la tua storia (dir. Nicolò Favaro) featured a book domino chain as an original way to promote the library space.
Watch more submissions from previous years to get inspired. Because IFLA is a partner, the contest’s judge panel is international. One judge is Siobhan Reardon, President and Director of the Free Library of Philadelphia and Secretary of the Standing Committee of the IFLA Section on Metropolitan Libraries
Note: The Italian Library Association runs Librariana, a unique virtual reference desk about libraries and librarians in arts and literature. One of the founders of the contest, Gabriele De Veris, a passionate librarian in the city of Perugia, Italy, contributed to the subtitling in Italian of Ann Seidl’s The Hollywood Librarian, which became popular in the Italian library community after its first screening in 2010.