ph. Phillip Toledano - 'Maybe'
Now in its fifth year, the Cortona on the Move Festival is a summer-long celebration of photography. This always-astonishing mosaic of exhibitions, workshops, portfolio reviews, competitions and more brings works by 27 well-known and emerging international photographers. I met with the festival’s founder, Antonio Carloni, to talk about his brainchild.
Oonagh Stransky: How exactly did the festival come into being?
Antonio Carloni: In 2010, when I was working as a freelance photojournalist, two friends and I decided to use our contacts to organize a festival in our town to celebrate photography. We wanted to do something that was sustainable on both an economic and social level. That first edition was relatively small and something of a financial disaster but with 15,000 visitors we knew we were on the right track.
OS: How has it changed since that first year?
AC: The first thing we did was bring in an art director, Arianna Rinaldo, who was archive director for the famous Magnum agency. She works tirelessly on content and I focus on the administrative side, finding partners and sponsors. Since then we have grown 20 percent each year. We’ve found financial stability by relying on an exchange system between our photographers and the press to fund and promote the festival, and we have gotten support from sponsors and initiatives around the world.
ph. Carla Kogelman - 'Ich bin Waldwiertel'
OS: What makes the festival different from others?
AC: We are an international festival in a history-rich Tuscan town. We are dedicated to the art and industry of photography. We exhibit in places that have been closed to the public for many years: a defunct meat-storage facility, the old Fortezza di Grifalco and the local hospital that was closed in 2008, for example. We employ local people and rely on lots of young volunteers and interns. And the festival lasts for more than two months! These are the most notable things.
OS: What are your long-term goals for the festival?
AC: To transform the Fortezza di Grifalco into a school for photography. We’ve now had a contract with the Comune for 10 years and will be working on raising funds for renovations. Basically, we want to make our festival the most important one in the world, even better than those in Arles and Perpignan. We’ve gotten some excellent coverage in the New York Times, but we still have work to do.
OS: There’s always talk about the effect of festivals on the towns where they are held. What’s your relationship like with the people of Cortona?
AC: The people of Cortona are used to having international figures swoop down on them. Frances Mayes brought us attention with her book and the film Under the Tuscan Sun. Jovanotti, the international pop music figure, is from Cortona. We have a constant flux of Americans throughout the year, thanks to the University of Georgia program. But this is the first time a festival has come from inside Cortona and celebrates Cortona, so locals enjoy it. Also, let’s not forget that the main theme of the festival—the journey towards discovery—is universal. Images bring people together. We like to think that Cortona on the Move uses globalization to its advantage by promoting it in our unique setting, in a sustainable way, over the course of 72 days. Our job is to put the pieces together so that everyone can benefit from it.
ph. OFF Circuit 2015 - Jasper Bastian, 'Across the River - Tales of a Divided City'
Cortona on the Move
July 16 to September 27, 2015
Ticket (all exhibits): 15/10 euro (reduced)
Ticket (single exhibits): 4–6 euro
If you’re in Milan for Expo 2015, check out ‘Hungry Eyes,’ a free exhibition of highlights from the past four ‘Hungry Eyes’ photography festivals: at via Vigevano, 35; details here.