ITVS Executive Vice President and CFO Judy Tam Discusses INPUT

Posted on March 4, 2009

The International Public Television Screening Conference (INPUT) was created to promote the exchange of television programs, ideas, and production techniques among broadcasters around the world. This year, ITVS programs CHICAGO 10, by Brett Morgen, and OPERATION FILMMAKER, by Nina Davenport, are Official Selections. Read the Q&A below with ITVS Executive Vice President and CFO Judy Tam to learn more about INPUT and ITVS’s involvement.

What exactly happens at INPUT and why does ITVS participate? The INPUT conference is a global media screening event showcasing of programs broadcast on public television systems around the world. Unlike festivals and markets, the intention of the conference is to exchange, discuss and share. During the five-day event, there are three screening rooms concurrently running programs. Each year the conference is hosted in a different country. In recent years INPUT has been held in Johannesburg, South Africa; Lugano, Switzerland; Taipei, Taiwan; Barcelona, Spain; and San Francisco, California. 

Since INPUT is open to international public broadcasters, how many countries usually submit to it? There are probably anywhere from 60 to 100 countries each year submitting programs for program selection consideration. The programs cover a variety of genres and must have been broadcast on public television. 

How many ITVS films will be at INPUT this year? Does the United States have a strong presence at the conference? Of the four U.S. programs selected this year, two of them are ITVS programs. This is far less than in past years, when we have sometimes funded six out of seven U.S. programs. I represent ITVS on the International INPUT Board with one other U.S. representative. INPUT has one shop steward from the United States, and there is a national coordinator for U.S. program submission. U.S. presence has waned in the last few years, but because ITVS successfully hosted the 2005 Conference in San Francisco with 1700 delegates in attendance, recognition for the United States is high. There are probably about 20 to 50 U.S. delegates at the conference each year. It has been a little bit of a challenge getting public broadcasters in the United States to participate. But, through an important scholarship fund provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for a number of years, independent producers, station staff and media professionals have been able to attend the conference and sometimes present programs.

How long has ITVS been submitting films to INPUT? What happens to films that are submitted? ITVS has been submitting programs to the U.S. selection for at least the last 15 years. Panels convene in the United States and in other countries by INPUT national coordinators who then select and submit programs to the international selection. A program quota system has been created by the INPUT Board for each country. For the United States, 17 programs can be submitted. The international selection is held abroad over a two week period, during which about 200 to 300 programs are viewed by about 18 to 25 international representatives (shop stewards) who present the final programs in themed sessions at the conference and moderate the conversations and debates. 

What are the usual types of films and programs at INPUT? Do they share an educational mission about international subjects? There are a number of genres accepted, including current affairs, drama, documentary, animation and comedy. Programs are educational in the same way that public media tends to be educational. Programs increase awareness of cultural sensibilities, show the influence of public media in individual societies and address societal issues around the world. These programs can sometimes be quite controversial, especially programs that examine religious beliefs, cultural norms and accepted or unaccepted behaviors. For example, INPUT screened a program about “honor killings” that had been banned from broadcast in its country of origin. 

Can anyone attend INPUT or do you need to be associated with a public broadcaster? Anyone can attend the conference. Quite frequently the hosts of the conference sponsor the attendance of a number of representatives from universities, public media systems, journalism and other fields. Each conference tends to be very host-centric, which makes the conference more unpredictable, more interesting, and generally a good time for all who attend. There is very much an international flavor to the conference. There is a mid-week party (with separate admission for about $30 to $50), with performances, music and great food. 

Visit the INPUT website for more information >>

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