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CHANGE IN THE AIR AT BIAFF 2016

Jill Bunting
Jill Bunting presents the AV show

Betty and Gerald
'Cheers' from Betty Jennings and Gerald Mee

Derek Mathieson and Jim Whalley
Derek Mathieson and Jim Whalley still smiling

David Newman
David Newman spent the weekend carrying boxes around

Wener Van den Bulk
Werner Van den Bulk bathed in the rosy glow of two Diamond awards

Audience arrive
Audience arrives

James Eaves
James Eaves wondering whether he should enter the Wormhole one more time

Mark Anthony Games and Kirsty Baxter
Mark Anthony Games and Kirsty Baxter in a quiet moment

Tony Grant
Tony Grant shares a joke

Monica Walker
Monica Walker enjoys a joke

Dave and I arrived at the Cairn Hotel mid afternoon on the Friday, although the Festival had begun the day before with a programme of films and a trip out to the stunning Castle Howard. We had hardly stepped through the front door when Derek Mathieson bounced out from behind a pillar to greet us and give us our welcome packs. Around every corner we found more old friends. Like us, they seem to be becoming older friends every year.
The Cairn Hotel felt like a comfortable old friend as well, complete with endless creaky corridors where I got lost yet again despite the number of times we have stayed there.

As the weekend unfolded, I realised that the hidden theme was Change.

The weekend, following the well-honed pattern of previous years, was very well organised by the friendly NERIAC team and the Cairn Hotel delivered their efficient good service once more. But I overheard several conversations about the future direction of the Festival. Many people were aware that the IAC regions are struggling to find enough helpers to organise such a big event; that it is getting harder to find hotels with the appropriate mix of meeting rooms; and that it is an expensive weekend affordable only by an ageing audience that grows smaller each year.

The A-V show on the Friday night was introduced by Jill Bunting and John Smith. They showed a programme of winners and favourites from this year's Peter Coles International AV Competition. It is a great treat to see these sequences at BIAFF. This year the Competition attracted 77 entries from 14 different countries, and Jill and John put together a very entertaining evening.
There are changes happening in the A-V world as well - the most striking being that they are experimenting with movement. I am not sure where this will lead but AVers consistently produce sequences on unusual, engaging and challenging topics with superb soundtracks so I am optimistic.

Saturday was mini-cinema day, four rooms devoted to programmes of films selected by David Newman from this year's Competition entries. As usual, he pulled together interesting blocks of films. However some of the shows had disappointingly low numbers in the audience. It must be galling for the film makers, who feel justifiably proud of having their film shown at BIAFF, faced with a smaller audience than they can muster in their own club.
I had the honour of presenting one of the mini-cinema programmes but I was feeling a bit nervous. About ten minutes into the first film there was a thump. We stopped the film, put the lights up, and I saw someone on the floor. I cursed myself for never getting around to doing a First Aid course. Then a slightly abashed voice called 'I'm alright. I just fell asleep.' The film maker will dine out on that story for years.
One of the Saturday afternoon shows is 'Young Faces at BIAFF'. This is, as you can guess, a programme made up of films entered by young people. Suddenly the atmosphere in the Cairn Hotel changed with the buzz of youngsters. This is what we had been missing.

The Gala dinner is always a happy occasion. In addition to good company, good food and entertaining speeches. we had the pleasure of seeing various people being thanked and given honours, some for their contributions to the work of the IAC or the hobby and others for excellence in their movie or A-V making. This year, Keith Sayers, Trevor Spencer, Alan Whippy and Gwen Whippy were awarded Fellowships. Stephen Green and Graham Ralls achieved Licentiate status and Peter Durnall and Tim Stannard achieved Associateships. Ron Prosser was awarded the UNICA Medal.

The highlight of the weekend was on Sunday when we all came together to watch the award winning films. There is no denying the feeling of excitement in a packed hall, with the trophies lined up on a table at the front. This year the awards sparkled gloriously thanks to John Robert's lighting design. Michael Gough was our MC - a role he seems made for.
Many of the winning films are available to watch on-line here. You can decide whether you agree with the judges' choices. Happily the BIAFF audience seemed to enjoy the films, despite an unfortunate problem with subtitles off-screen on a beautiful wildlife film.

The hard work of the NERIAC teams paid off - they created a truly enjoyable BIAFF. But if BIAFF must change, we need to do some hard thinking.

What form should the Festival take in future years? What needs to be kept? In my view, we must retain the sense of friendship - with opportunities to meet old friends and make new ones who share our enthusiasm for film. We should celebrate the film makers and provide the best possible environment to see their work. This means comfortable halls with raked seating and professional projection. We should not ask volunteers to cart their equipment to the venue, organise black-outs, set everything up often while the rest of us are relaxing or even sleeping and also go through the hard work and stress of trying to present 'professional'shows. The Festival must be attractive, accessible and affordable for people of all ages. How do we do this? There are lots of Festivals in the UK and around the world where we could find ideas and inspiration. Our members have decades of experience in other fields that might offer insights. Let's not just sit back and leave it all to Council.

There is no doubt that change is on the horizon. But in the meantime, CEMRIAC members have stepped forward to host BIAFF 2017. It will be in Market Harborough on 21st-23rd April. I hope to see you there.

Jan Watterson (webmaster)

(Thanks to Derek Mathieson for providing some of the photographs)

John Smith
John Smith also presents the AV show

Michael Gough and Ivor Rose
Ivor Rose and Michael Gough ready to celebrate

Pat Adcock and Romy van Krieken
Pat Adcock and Romy van Krieken compare notes on the films

Mini-cinema
A mini-cinema in action

Trophies
Sparkling trophies

Billy Ellwood and John Roberts
Billy Ellwood and John Roberts waiting for the 'off'

Rebecca Staniforth
Rebecca Staniforth turns

Gala Dinner
The Gala Dinner bathed in colour

Bob Rowley and Martin Sunderland
Bob Rowley and Martin Sunderland looking forward to dinner

Ivor Rose
Ivor Rose ready to put on a mini-cinema show

Christianne Surdiacourt and Martin Bracke
Christianne Surdiacourt and Martin Bracke BIAFF's most loyal fans from overseas

 

special awards | diamond | ***** | **** | *** | ** | * | Young People's
AV Awards |  | BIAFF screen - film selectionFestival Home