Right now, I’m moving on to the Third Syria Film Festival. I’m proud to have worked on this one – I’m proud to have worked on all of them, but especially this. This year is the festival I’ve felt most in control of my tasks in marketing and promotion.
In the first year, I was freshly graduated from my communications program and didn’t have enough confidence in myself. We ended up doing a fantastic job, attracted a lot of media attention, and I did solid work coordinating reporters from several different outlets – Toronto Star, Metro News, a few local publications, and the English-language services of the two big Arab networks Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera.
|The crew of volunteers and organizers for SYFF 2016. Some of them
aren't really with us anymore, but I'll never forget them.
Don't worry, they're not dead. They just moved on to other things.
Only one of them was stuck moving to America, poor bastard.
All credit to me when it came to keeping everything straight and making all the media folks happy. But I didn’t really work much magic of my own attracting all those people. The First Syria Film Festival was in November 2015. The world discovered Aylan Kurdi two months before.
The Syrian war(s) and their refugees were at the top of the news cycle for months. It captivated Canada. More than 40,000 Syrians have come to Canada as refugees – many, but not exactly a whole lot in a country of 36-million people. Why haven’t we taken in more? There’s no reason why not.
As for the film festival, we never got the same intensity of media coverage in that first year. It was a perfect storm that let us build a strong fanbase that’s been steadily growing ever since.
At the same time, I feel like I let SYFF down a little bit in its second year. I was working a pretty hectic, low-paying job and it took a lot of my energy and attention away from the public relations work for good causes that I actually enjoy doing.
This year, I could put a little more effort into our outreach and branding strategy. We haven't gotten the most media attention, but I think we’ve built our fandom deeply enough that we can get folks out during the snow tonight.
We have some beautiful stories on the screen this weekend. Get some tickets. Come down to Hot Docs and say hello. You’ll never see another set of nights quite like them.