Guide to the Algarve International Film Festival (Portugal)

by Toby Simkin

The annual Algarve International Film Festival is the oldest of its kind in Portugal. Through the years, it has greatly helped in the promotion and showcasing of short films both from local and international talents. Locally known as FICA or the “Festival Internacional de Cine do Algarve”, this event has been conducted every year since its inception in 1972 in the small Portuguese town of Portimao.

The Algarve International Film Festival centers on its famous short film competition. This competition draws entries that feature either animated or live-action short films with a maximum duration of 30 minutes. These films have to be shot in 16 mm or 35 mm reels. Although the short film competition is the main draw of this festival, there are other important events that are featured here as well, including an awards show that is presided over by a jury. The awards show gives out prizes in various categories such as Best Film by a Portuguese Directory, Best Film about the Algarve and Best Film about Nature. The most popular category among these awards however, is the Best Film with a Message of Love and Peace among Men. All the films screened at this festival are presented in their original language along with subtitles in either Portuguese or English.

In addition to the short films and its award ceremony, the Algarve International Film Festival is also known for its regional presentations and screenings. The regional events and presentations are divided into various categories according to different factors, like the towns from which they originate.

Across the years, the towns of Lagos, Alvor, Portimao, Monchique, Mexilhoeira da Carregacao, Mexillhoeira Grande, Albufeira, Messines, Silves, Guja, Faro, Loule, Tavira and Olhao have all consistently participated in the Algarve International Film Festival. Visitors can also expect entries to come in from towns like Saboia, Ourique, Milfontes, the Alentejo area and various other regions.

The Short Films Section of the Algarve International Film Festival has traditionally been divided into five different components. Each of these sections features a different type of short film. The different sections are: the retrospective, Winners of the main prize over the years, FICA 30, National Shorts section, Homage to Annecy (which is home to the most important animation festivals in the world) and New Territories, which takes a look at the new trends that are emerging across the world and showcases various individual filmmakers.

There is a different program featured every year, which is divided into seven different categories. These sections vary every year according to the theme of the show. Tickets to the Algarve International Film Festival are available on the Internet.

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