These students make Norway’s largest film festival happen

Many of the volunteers working at BIFF are international students.

EXPERIENCE. Exchange students Martyna Zawalska and Yannick Schmitt enjoy being volunteers. FOTO: Maria Aysina
Publisert Sist oppdatert

The 24th edition of Bergen International Film Festival (BIFF) is taking place this week. From the 18th to the 26th of October Bergen cinema lovers have a chance to watch almost 120 feature and documentary films.

The organization of the event would not be possible without the help of volunteers. Many of them are internationals.

A variety of tasks

25-year-old Timothee Michaux, a French graduate who has just finished his exchange in Bergen, is a runner.

– I do whatever needs to be done. For example, I deliver food, or if someone needs to get a ticket checked I will do it as well.

READY: Volunteer Timothee Michaux is ready to do a variety of tasks. Photo: Maria Aysina

Paoline Hogrel, a 21-year-old French exchange student at the University of Bergen, who is also a runner, had different tasks:

– I stuck some posters on the wall, organized the corridor, and cleaned the floor. It depends on what is needed.

Meanwhile, the exchange students Yannick Schmitt from Austria and Martyna Zawalska from Poland, are cinema hosts. They check tickets, clean cinema rooms, interact with viewers, and help them.


Some knew BIFF already as spectators, but this time they wanted to help with the organization of the event.

– I have known BIFF for a long time and I’ve volunteered at other cultural events before. I don’t have anything to do this week, so I just decided to apply, tells Michaux.

But for some it was a completely new experience. 

Schmitt and Zawalska arrived in Bergen in August this year. As exchange students new in the city, they did not quite know what to expect.

LANGUAGE: Yannick and Martyna were positively surprised that speaking Norwegian was not necessary. Photo: Maria Aysina

– We saw a poster in the city about BIFF, we checked it out and we saw that they needed some volunteers, says Schmitt.

–  We applied in the last minute, Zawalska adds and explains: 

– Because we were thinking that it is possibly only for people from here and they don’t want volunteers from other countries who don’t speak Norwegian. But actually, the language is not a problem.

Enriching the exchange experience

Many international students find BIFF as a good opportunity to enrich their stay in Bergen.

– It’s a good way to meet some interesting people and to do something, Hogrel observes.

– I’m an Erasmus student, so I have a lot of free time. It’s also an opportunity to watch some movies and to do something concrete, participate in the cultural life of Bergen.

ACTION: Volunteer Paoline Hogrel enjoys active participation in the cultural life in Bergen. Photo: Maria Aysina

As Schmitt and Zawalska adds, BIFF gives them a chance to experience a regular life in Norway. They can do something unrelated to academia.

But the students highlight one aspect of the film festival in particular – volunteering is a great social activity.

– It’s absolutely a good opportunity for international students to make new friends. Both Norwegian and international. Between the tasks we just hang out, chill, talk, Zawalska tells.

Michaux shares similar observations:

– Norway in general is not an easy place to make friends. But I think this kind of festival is a good opportunity to meet new people.

Meanwhile, Hogrel draws attention to the atmosphere at the festival:

– I feel good vibes. There are a lot of young people, a lot of internationals, you can feel very confident with the people, it’s a small community. And it’s not only international students, but also Norwegians, adults, and older people who are interested in cinema.

GOOD VIBES: Volunteer Paoline Hogrel enjoys the atmosphere at BIFF. Photo: Maria Aysina

Movie recommendations

What movies do you recommend?

– I watched the opening movie «A Happy Day», I  really recommend it, Hogrel says and adds that BIFF is also an opportunity for her to watch a film from her motherland:

– I would also like to watch the French movie «Fritt Fall». I haven’t watched it yet, but I’ve heard it’s a very good movie.

Powered by Labrador CMS