Festivals taking place across the Global South are attracting increasingly global attendees. This brief discussion paper looks at four diverse examples of such festivals – Media Party in Argentina, Festival 3i in Brazil, Splice Beta in Thailand, and the Africa Media Festival in Kenya – and seeks to develop preliminary hypotheses about the nature of these events, what distinguishes them from other events in the independent media ecosystem, what they hope to achieve, and how they are evolving.
It also seeks to discern patterns or learnings emerging from these festivals that suggest practical recommendations for those running, setting up or supporting such events in the future, and includes concrete examples of practices that other practitioners can learn or adapt from. We also explore the role of media festivals in the resilience of local regional and global digital native ecosystems.
The report has been authored by independent consultant Sameer Padania, who was an active participant in all four festivals featured, as part of a consultancy project for International Media Support, funded by the Ford Foundation. He was a judge for a pitch session and ran one workshop at Media Party, gave three clinics and one workshop at Splice Beta, co-ran one workshop and co-moderated a donors' meeting at the Africa Media Festival, and spoke on a panel at Festival 3i. The report also draws on inputs from IMS programme managers and partners.