SYDNEY LEVINE’s thirty plus years’ experience in film began with startups and industry 'firsts'. In 1975 she was the first woman in international film distribution at 20th Century Fox where she was stationed in Amsterdam. She was a pioneering acquisitions executive for Lorimar in the first days of the video industry, and later Vice President of Acquisitions for the newly starting up Republic Pictures.
In 1988 she invented FilmFinders, the first film database tracking worldwide films for acquisitions executives. As the official partner of the Cannes Film Festival Market and official sponsor of the Sundance Film Festival, FilmFinders helped set up their databases and sales offices and producer networks as they did in the early days of Toronto Film Festival. In 2008 FilmFinders and sister company Withoutabox were acquired by IMDb, an Amazon company where she integrated FilmFinders into IMDbPro while developing their new international endeavors.
She now updates companies from North and South America for the Cannes Film Market, the Berlin European Film Market, and Ventana Sur in Buenos Aires.
Sydney’s blog SydneysBuzz appears on IMDbPro’s front page and is a featured blog of IndieWIRE.
Sydney is now poised to enter the new digital era of media armed with ideas and an emerging business plan which includes literacy education, professional education and acquisitions reports designed to hit the democratic mass of people now able to access the internet.
She and her partner Peter Belsito continue to advise filmmakers and national organizations on strategies to achieve their goals of financing, making and selling their films worldwide, and continue to provide services to distributors, international sales agents and festivals programmers.
In 2006 Sydney designed a 12-week online course on the international film business for UCLA Extension School of Film. She has taught courses in international film distribution at the New School for Social Research in New York, and for the last fourteen years has been involved in professional education with young filmmakers via countless initiatives with festival and market panels and forums, in course involvement with such institutions including the Deutsche Welle Akademie in Berlin, Binger FilmLab of Amsterdam, Talent Campus of the Berlin Film Festival, Cannes Film Market and The Shorts Corner of the Cannes Market, Mesas de Negocias of Chile, Toronto International Film Festival, Rotterdam Cinemart, IFP New York, FILM Independent of Los Angeles etc.
Sydney's educational background includes a Master's of Science Degree in Education from the University of Southern California, a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the University of California and a License from the Sorbonne University of Paris. She speaks French, Spanish, English and German and travels extensively on the international film market circuit.
'Do Film Festivals need an Academy in this day and age? The answer is, resoundingly, yes! A complex mixture of the professional and the cultural, the economic and the cinephilic, film festivals today are increasingly complex beasts – and no festival is an island unto itself. Connected in a tight web of international exchanges, comparisons and manœuvres, festivals are all about giving value to particular films or particular types of films – and finding, or creating, the audiences for them. The new Film Festival Academy is ideally placed to integrate the already widely scattered field of researches, discussions, trainings and co-operative interrelationships occurring within and between the literally thousands of film festivals in the modern globe. It is a new world on every level – from the challenge of projection formats to the politics of curating – and the Film Festival Academy will open the doors to it.'
'The new Film Festival Academy initiative is to be very much welcomed by all film festival professionals and anyone interested and involved in the increasingly central role played by film festivals in the international cinema industry; this is definitely the right thing at the right time and promises to be an exciting and important development that will be of great service to all of us working in the film festival arena.'
'To focus on film festivals, not in opposition to but in articulation with critical and scholarly thought, is what world cinema needs in order to be understood in all its complexity. The Film Festival Academy deserves our applause and support for providing, for the first time, a common platform for festival professionals, critics and passionate spectators.'
'The Film Festival Academy has a great potential to become a truly valid platform for creative film festival professionals willing to share knowledge and experience on a collaborative basis. This initiative should be welcomed with enthusiasm and excitement.'
'The inauguration of the Film Festival Academy brings important and long overdue attention to film festivals as cultural locations for the traffic in filmmaking, from glitterati events with red carpets, to those that shed light on human rights abuses, to the world-building projects of activist communities.'
'The enormous growth of film festivals – in number, location, diversity, and artistic influence – is accelerating by the day. But not until now has their importance to global culture been matched by an organization with the cinematic acumen, media savvy, networking skills, and expert leadership needed to provide top-level support, training, information, and connectivity for participants in all areas of festival activity, from programmers and publicists to filmmakers, academics, and critics. The arrival of the Film Festival Academy is the most exciting development in years for moving-image professionals everywhere.'
'The Film Festival Academy offers a much needed interchange of views between filmmakers, festival programmers and academics doing research on film festivals. That this interchange takes place not in the academy but at festivals themselves will be a huge boon to film festival scholarship and to an important sharing and deepening of the perspective of those interested in not only theorizing but also intervening in the continued growth of these events which play such a crucial part in the disseminating of a global cinema and in the breaking down of commerical barriers.'
'The unswerving positive response from film festivals, professionals and academics regarding the launch of the Film Festival Academy comes as no surprise. Sharing between academia and industry is essential in developing highly-trained film professionals and we look forward to the collaboration between film schools, film institutes, festivals and other film industry partners through this unique platform.'
'The role of the film festival in today's digital world is constantly being re-evaluated and debated, but it's clear that film festivals are still as relevant and important as they have ever been. The Film Festival Academy should provide an important focus for the rich and diverse amount of film festivals in the world while giving festival practitioners an important outlet for networking and collaboration.'
'The Film Festival Academy has my full support. It is amazing that in a market overflowing with all kinds of professional training it has taken until today to come up with a simple and great idea: high level opportunities for the exchange of ideas and programmes for learning more about the complex art and the technical skills of running a film festival. Anybody who has participated in any of the rather dubious endeavours that were made in this field before will appreciate the non-profit approach of the Film Festival Academy; anybody who knows its founders will trust their professional knowledge and personal integrity. I will support the Film Festival Academy in every possible way.'
'The creation of the Film Festival Academy is a very important step in the ongoing process of consolidation and exchange on the European festival scene. I wish all possible success to this important initiative.'
To become a member, please read the descriptions of the two levels of membership to select which one better fits your needs, and then select one of the them. You will be redirected to a registration page where you will create your Film Festival Academy account, and will soon begin to benefit from the many advantages afforded by membership.
The two kinds of membership are:
PREMIUM (€90 per year, or €60 per year if taken out before 31 December 2012)
To become a member, please click below: