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Daniella Castagno, Vice President of AVACI: "We Are at the Service of Other Societies"

By Ulises Román Rodríguez

Screenwriter Daniella Castagno, president of the Society of Directors, Screenwriters, and Playwrights of Chile (ATN), recently elected as vice president of the International Confederation of Audiovisual Authors (AVACI) and member of the Executive Council of the Federation of Latin American Audiovisual Authors Societies (FESAAL), discusses her new role, the refoundation of AVACI, and provides a preview of the annual General Assemblies of FESAAL and AVACI. These assemblies will be held on Tuesday, November 5, Wednesday, November 6, and Thursday, November 7, 2024, in Mexico City, with local societies SOGEM and SOMEDIRE as host members of this historic event, which is shaping up to be the most important meeting of audiovisual authors and societies of Screenwriters and Directors worldwide.

Regarding this new challenge, the Chilean screenwriter emphasized the impact of FESAAL and stated, "FESAAL inspired us to embark on an international path out of a need to open up to the world."

On the other hand, Castagno also spoke about her objectives as vice president of AVACI, prioritizing "greater unity in the sector, recovering the essence of the organization, supporting the new generations, and promoting greater participation of women in decision-making."

In an interview with AV Creators News, the president of ATN said, "I would start this journey by inviting the new generations to lose their fear and fight for their dreams." She recalled one of the organization's campaign slogans, which said, "let's stop being invisible."

What are the fundamental pillars for the refoundation of AVACI?

This refoundation was essential to pave the way we have to walk, but also out of a need for unity and knowledge. Given the number of years we have known each other, we are aware of the problems each Society had to face in each country and the obstacles they had to overcome to move forward. In some countries, there are political obstacles, in others, legal and technical, or a lack of unity among their own members. In this refoundation, we are recovering our essence. We knew there were things we couldn't allow, so we went back to our roots, because even our language (Spanish) had been completely sidelined.

Regarding your role as vice president of AVACI: what are the main challenges of the position?

There are more value-based aspects and others more technical. In terms of values, the first is unity. We have to walk together and be hand in hand, super united, because that is what has strengthened us to move forward. Another challenge is understanding the scenario we are moving in: what are the needs of the other societies that will be part of AVACI and working together to help and cooperate with them, as was done with those who joined FESAAL. In Chile, from what I experienced as president of ATN, we had all the support of these organizations to emerge, to have weight, and to be taken seriously. We must do the same in emerging societies that need us. For example, if there is a society in Africa that needs our support, we are here to serve other societies. Therefore, I believe that for AVACI to advance, unity, knowledge of the scenario we are working in, and the technical strength of each department are essential. We know the struggle is complex, but we have already learned a bit about the path. So, what we know, we should not forget.

What do you consider to be the greatest difficulties in achieving these objectives?

I think one must always remain attentive and be willing to adapt to different changes. But also learn and use previous knowledge. The generations that have lived through changes from cinema, television, cable, the internet, streaming, every time something new emerged, we heard the phrase 'this is the end for us.' And it is not like that: we have learned to navigate in other waters. Storms always come, but that is why I believe one must face them. The most difficult depends on the moment, the situation, the country, the politics... it depends on a thousand factors. Nothing is easy; it never has been. But I feel we have very valuable people within AVACI that make me believe deeply in them.

What does it mean for such an important position to be held by a woman?

I would love for this not to be 'something special,' but it is because we are a significant minority within the media in all areas of production, of work. However, I believe a woman's perspective is always different from a man's, which is why we are a good combination. We know that our goals are the same, and I feel we have a different sensitivity that is always an asset. I also think we need to call more women. When I was appointed, I received calls from women everywhere, and I felt this was very important for many others. That's when I realized the weight, because when I was appointed vice president, I took it as part of the job. So, I feel I will rely on many other women, listening to them, being attentive to what is important to them. But I do not only feel I represent women but everyone who has worked in FESAAL because I feel like another worker in this construction we have made over the years.

Regarding your career as a screenwriter and your experience with the responsibilities you have and have had, what can you offer the new generations of directors and screenwriters who want to be part of FESAAL?

One of the first goals should be to call and welcome people with open arms. Because we had to face closed arms throughout our journey and had to ask to be heard. So, the first lesson is that we need to have open arms and call without restrictions. Everyone can come in, we are open to everyone. If someone wants to form a society, all the experience we have can help speed up other processes. We need to open our arms, call, provide space, offer technical solutions, lend our help, and cooperate. But also let them know they are not alone because when one starts on this path, one feels tremendously alone. What drives us to move forward is that we are dreamers, and those of us here are the same creators of the societies.

From your perspective: what should be the essential points of the FESAAL / AVACI double assembly that will be held in Mexico City?

What I would most like is to be able to see and hug each other. Unity and the call are essential to me. And what I would most utopically like, though not so utopian, is to welcome other management societies, other countries, so that AVACI can grow more and more. Open up, but knowing what our essence is, to try to strengthen ourselves and not change or mold ourselves to the liking of others. We must be ourselves, the creators, who set the rules of the game, that seems essential to me. But another thing I would love to take away, besides unity, strengthening, and the hug, is the incorporation of new management societies from other countries, from the most remote places in the world. On the other hand, I would also like women to have a leading role in this meeting. That we are well ahead and no longer in the back. That we can be on par. But I can assure you that in FESAAL and AVACI, women already have a fundamental role.


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