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Looking Back at UNICA 2005

Looking Ahead

Greeting from the President at UNICA 2005

Portrait of Max Hansli.Dear honorary guests, Ladies and gentlemen, Dear film friends

I am very pleased to bid you all welcome to UNICA 2005 in Blankenberge in Belgium. It has been some time since we were in Belgium for a UNICA Congress. Belgium is a country with considerable film-making activity and we appreciate their many achievements in the past few years.

Due to its multilingual and multicultural composition, Belgium is also an ideal place to host a Congress of the UNICA kind as we also have to struggle with language problems on an everyday basis. A UNICA Congress is not only a forum where many languages are used. Nearly each country comes along with their own culture. A very good example of this diversity is offered by KOREA which has introduced such a colourful touch of originality when becoming a UNICA member and we should be prepared for more cultural surprises next year on the occasion of UNICA 2006 in Korea. This adjective multi-cultural is particularly appropriate in the case of UNICA which is a forum where different cultures can meet without any tension, have fruitful exchanges of ideas about this theme they have in common - film and video making - and find ways to remove causes of concern and solve problems.

The annual UNICA Congress is also an opportunity for participants to meet again long-time friends or recent acquaintances, even if we have to acknowledge that we and they have become older in the mean time. The sense of friendship is definitely one of the main cause of success for UNICA and we trust that this principle will endure in the future. But at the same time, we all understand that this ageing phenomenon among the individual members of UNICA is a cause of some concern and there is no way to escape consequences. More and more often we hear of the demise of friends with whom we shared a meal one year earlier. I would like to mention just one such case, in the name of all departed friends: Achim Stampehl, the UNICA Treasurer. We remember the enthusiasm with which he entertained us at the closing ceremony in Veitshöchheim. Just a few weeks later, we had the sad news: Achim had passed away. I trust that you will keep our good friend in good memory.

The UNICA 2005 Congress in Blankenberge has obviously attracted many participants and visitors. I am aware of the scope of the task that organisers have to achieve and I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have already contributed to all preparations and go on providing enormous work. What more can I say to this: I wish you all the best.

I am sure that UNICA 2005 will be, yet again, a great success and I trust that this congress will be a milestone in the history of UNICA.

With these word, I declare open the UNICA 2005 congress in Blankenberge.

Thank you.

Max Hänsli (CHE), UNICA president

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Ladies and Gentlemen

Absent Friends

Unfortunately, I have - yet again and for the third time - to start this annual report with very sad news. After Gisela Freier and Franz Rienesl in the past few years, just some weeks after the UNICA 2004 Congress in Veitshöchheim, our treasurer Achim Stampehl passed away. With great enthusiasm, he had headed the team in charge of organising that UNICA Congress and no one imagined that death would catch him up just a few weeks later. We have lost a very good friend of UNICA and a deeply dedicated UNICA participant. We are sure that you will remember Achim Stampehl fondly.

New Treasurer

The committee then had the duty of finding a new Treasurer and appointing him/her to this office. The call for candidates sent to the national federations showed that it was not easy to identify such a person. One of the conditions for the office is that the person appointed as treasurer should be thoroughly aware of the interests of UNICA. Bearing this condition in mind, the Committee thought that only an active member of the Committee could assume the task.

Thomas Kräuchi, who has been in charge of technical issues at UNICA for many years, declared that he was prepared to take over the position of treasurer. He has indeed all the necessary skills as he is the manager of a one-person company. He has already introduced himself in a letter sent to national federations and in an issue of UNICA-News. This year's General meeting will be asked to hold a vote on the initiative taken by the Committee.

UNICA 2004 in Veitshöchheim

The UNICA 2004 Congress in Veitshöchheim was undoubtedly a great success. The number of participants and visitors for various sessions was quite satisfactory and the excursions were all successful. Many thanks to all members of the organising team for this well-prepared event. However, it appeared that getting the audience involved in the awarding of special prizes was a real problem with no easy solution. For that reason, it was decided that this initiative would be discontinued.

UNICA - Name

I hope that I am reporting for the last time about the issue of renaming UNICA. The Committee decided with a strong majority (8:1) to remove the expression "non professional", without any substitute. This proposal has been circulated to national federations. In addition, the resolution of the Committee has been complemented: it was decided that the counter-proposal (defeated in the vote) should nevertheless be submitted to the General Assembly. The two proposals have been sent to all members and will be thus be put to the vote.

I hope that a solution to this issue can be found at today's meeting.

UNICA Festival Tape

The 80-minute video cassette with excerpts from the national programmes shown at UNICA has met with great success. This cassette is offered free of charge to all national federations. In this way, many orders for film programmes become superfluous and considerable savings can be made on overheads and postage.

Entries on DV or DVD

For the first time at the UNICA 2006 Congress in Korea, films and videos will have to be submitted exclusively in DV or DVD format. This obligation will also apply to future UNICA Competitions. All national federations should find ways to have the other formats transferred onto DV or DVD. As a consequence, the task of UNICA organisers and the management of the UNICA Film library should be greatly facilitated. Please pass on this information to the appropriate officers of your federation. Thank you.

Committee Elections in 2006

Next year will be election year for the Committee. Even if all current Committee members are candidates again, national federations have the right to propose new members. For the voting procedure to be done properly and to comply with the Statutes, you will be informed in the near future about the conditions to be fulfilled, in particular those concerning the ways in which the federation is to be represented and/or give another federation proxy to vote at the General Assembly in Korea.

I would like, yet again, to take this opportunity to thank my fellow committee members for their work. Each of them spares no effort in terms of finance or of time to participate in the 3 or 4 annual meetings.

As I did last year, I refer to the report submitted by the Secretary General for more detailed information about the activities of the Committee.

The final words will be words of thanks to you, Ladies and Gentlemen, for your attendance at the General Assembly. I would also like to express my hope that national magazines and relevant publications will circulate news and information about this event. Many thanks.

Max Hänsli (CHE), UNICA president

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Dear film friends

Picture of UNICA medals waiting to be presented. That's it: the UNICA 2005 Festival in Blankenberge, Belgium now belongs to the past. But it is appropriate to have a short retrospective on the event. The Festival was a success in many different ways. The number of participants was very high: some 400 people registered. The meals served on the congress card were excellent. The premises - in particular the projection hall - and the rooms where the meals during the excursions were served were simply fabulous. In short, the UNICA 2005 Festival will surely count as an event in the history of UNICAs and all participants will remember it for a long time.

Only one thing did not play fair: the weather. Of course this is a factor over which any organising committee has very limited influence, though I am sure that they had ordered sunshine and nothing else.

General Assembly

Significant decisions were made during the General Assembly. After the demise of Achim Stampehl, a new treasurer had to be found. The person now in charge - Thomas Kräuchi - had already introduced himself to national federations when he was elected by the Committee. After receiving unanimous confirmation in this office from the General Assembly, the treasurer submitted a clear balance-sheet and profit-and-loss account as well as the 2006 budget and none of the documents was a matter of discussion. We can be sure that he has all the necessary competence to assume the tasks of this office to perfection and to solve whatever questions may arise.

All the reports submitted in writing and orally by the members of the Committee were adopted with no negative votes so that the General Assembly could grant discharge to the Committee.

Two proposals from the Committee were submitted to the meeting:

There was first an important question which had been the subject of much debate for years and about which we had to come to a decision: changing the development of the acronym "UNICA". After a short discussion with delegates, as requested by the president, the meeting eventually came to a vote. Of the two proposals, the one originally tabled by the Committee - aiming at having:


won a clear majority. I hope that the issue can be considered resolved for the next 20 years. I would like to thank all the national federations for the objective discussion that was held about this topic.

There was no debate about the second proposal submitted by the Committee - in the future, i.e. beginning with UNICA 2006, only DVs (mini or standard cassettes) and DVDs can be submitted for the competition. This proposal was accepted unanimously. Considering that an increasing majority of players are now able to accept all systems - PAL, NTSC and SECAM - this problem should also be solved in the near future, though a delegate duly reminded us that HDV and the new chips are just around the corner. We will probably have to re-examine this issue on a yearly basis and inform national federations in due time. Consequently, we make the following request to all national federations : please transfer all your films/videos for the contest onto either format. That will greatly facilitate the task of the organisers and the UNICA Film Librarian. Thank you very much.

Preparations for UNICA 2006, 2007 and 2008

Korean and Slovak delegates.The great event of 2006 is now coming close. The UNICA 2006 Festival in South Korea was promoted with much enthusiasm and preparations for this event are already in full swing. I ask you to draw the attention of your members to the possibility of joining the party who will take part in this event in South Korea and I can provide full documentation with detailed information about it.

I also ask you to register as soon as possible and send the form to my address so that we can proceed with the bookings at the agreed price. The later the registration, the more difficult it will be to guarantee the rates announced. Please keep this in mind.

UNICA 2007 will be held in Slovakia. This UNICA has already been promoted in Blankenberge and we got an idea of the high degree of commitment of its organisers. The Committee will visit the venue for this festival in November and more information will then be circulated.

Tunisia will be the organising federation in 2008 and the venue will be Hammamet. Here again, you will be informed after the Committee has visited the venue.

As you can see, the UNICA festivals will be organised "on the world scene" in the next few years. We look forward to seeing many participants for these events.

With best greetings

Max Hänsli (CHE), UNICA president

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Dear film-friends,

The extent of the language issue in our films/videos appeared once again at UNICA 2005 in Blankenberge. We saw many works with subtitles so that spectators were offered - perhaps - a better understanding of the film, if they had not mastered its original language. It seemed as if the major problem posed by our diversity of languages might be solved. But was it really a solution? Many people there might be able to express themselves and have a discussion in another language, but could they also read and decode subtitles when they are running at full speed? I would like to share with you some ideas about this difficult issue, without submitting any solution as this is not really possible.

We are all sitting in the hall, in front of a very wide screen - it has in fact ideal dimensions - so that the picture produces a very strong impression on spectators. Left and right the two baffle loudspeakers give us not only music and sound effects, but also the dialogue which is supposed to contribute to the understanding of the moving pictures. And so it is indeed. Whoever understands the language is happy to have this acoustic information. But what about those who do not?

For instance, below some French dialogue (though the principle applies to other languages) an English translation is presented in the form of subtitles. In this way, we have reached the critical point of this contribution! Does Mr X or Mrs Y understand this subtitled text? They may be, perhaps, German-speakers and have a satisfactory knowledge of English. But is this proficiency sufficient for them to be able to read the text and decode it? It is very often not and, after a few moments, such spectators turn their attention back to the image because they can absorb it and this does not take any particular language skills. There may be two reasons for that: the length of text on screen; and a literal approach where the translated text is even longer than the original. How could spectators possibly handle that? No way.

And there are also in the hall other spectators who know neither the original language nor the language of the subtitles (in our example English). These spectators have no other option than watching the pictures and thus forming an opinion of the video or film. They are surprised when there is suddenly laughter in the room or there is applause. What is the cause of these outbursts? They have no idea. It must have been something in the dialogue that the poor ignoramuses could not follow.

An example of a subtitled movie.But let us return to this UNICA 2005 Festival in Blankenberge. The "English" people (they do not like my using this expression to refer to them) showed how things could be done and a film from Switzerland also pointed to the right way. The films with an English dialogue in the British program were presented with subtitles in two languages, German and French. Moreover, the two lines could be identified very easily as each language had its own colour so that the eye could automatically locate the right line to be read when the next subtitle appeared, without interruption. Better still, it was also the "English" people who had thought of not providing a verbatim translation, but rather a shortened version restricted to the significant part of the text. Congratulations for this achievement! The film from Switzerland also had to cope with this problem and the difficulty was overcome with elegance as the film included texts in dialect and in an idiom incomprehensible for us. This example also proves that there is a solution to the language problem.

Of course we still have films with spoken or written content in none of the three UNICA languages, but in a language that only the nationals of that country can understand. It is a pity for these films which, unfortunately, do not fare so well and we recommend that the authors of such films give some thought to this question and take the problem into account.

In conclusion, I would like to share some very simple statistical data just to give an idea to filmmakers of what figures concerning language use are really like. Of course these figures vary from year to year but the range of variation is not large. Taking the number of participants recorded for a given UNICA year, we can establish the following:

  • 65% German-speakers
  • 25% English-speakers
  • 10% French-speakers

I believe that all authors should keep these statistics in mind and probably draw some conclusions from them.

I did not really want to start a great discussion with this contribution, but I thought that it was appropriate to simply address the question because it was often mentioned this year.

And this might work, dear authors, as an incentive for future works.

Max Hänsli (CHE), UNICA president

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On behalf of the team who subtitled the British films for UNICA, I thank the president for his praise. We believe that subtitling is a task for national federations and not individual authors. It must be done by people who are objective about the films and who have experience of watching movies at UNICA. This also makes it possible to have a consistent system, such as always using one colour of text for German and another for French. We start by summarising the English texts. The translation is best done by native speakers of the target language who understand the needs of subtitling. We are grateful for the help of many people.

Dave Watterson (GBR)

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Piet van Eerden photo taken at Korean reception. PREVIEW OF UNICA 2006 IN KOREA!

During the UNICA 2005 Festival in Blankenberge, there were again many questions concerning participation in UNICA 2006 in Korea. I did my best to provide adequate answers and give relevant documentation. However, I am still receiving questions.

This is why I send this summary of the most significant events planned for UNICA 2006.

  • Departure from European airports will be on Monday August 21, 2006. This date is the official departure date for most participants who have registered through UNICA.
  • Arrival in Seoul on August 22, 2006 will be about noon (exact schedules will be communicated when final information is provided by the airlines). After arrival and registration, we start the 5-day tour to visit the country, including a flight to Jeju Island in the south.
  • The return flight to Daegu is on Saturday August 26, 2006, where we check-in at the Interburgo Hotel for one night and have the UNICA Opening ceremony with banquet and entertainment.
  • Sunday August 27, 2006: morning - national programs for UNICA 2006; afternoon - a city tour of Daegu (3 million inhabitants), a reception hosted by the Mayor of Daegu (including the evening meal). In the evening: transfer of all participants to Kyongju (old imperial city), check-in at Hotel Concorde for 7 nights. All remaining film projections will take place in the premises of this hotel.
  • On Tuesday and Thursday of this week: two half-day excursions, offering the chance to discover all the wealth and grandeur of Korean culture.
  • Saturday September 02, 2006: closing ceremony with prize awards, banquet, musical entertainment and a farewell at the lakeside next to the hotel Concorde.
  • Sunday September 03, 2006: return trip to Seoul by coach and departure by air as scheduled.
    In the evening: arrival at European airports.
  • Costs: return flight from European airports to Seoul: about 1,000 - €
    Airport taxes and fuel prices could modify these rates.
  • Tour (5 days), accommodation (8 days) in the Interburgo and Concorde hotels (both are 5*-hotels), 3 half-day excursions, some additional meals 1.220. - €.
    Here again, some adjustments might occur. All prices are set according to the date of registration.

People interested are welcome to apply for a programme with more detailed information by mail to my address - Kuerbergstr. 30, CH-8049 Zurich,

Tel/Fax +41 (0)44.342.10.66 or by e-mail <mhaensli@webshuttle.ch>.

This journey will undoubtedly be an unsurpassed cultural event which will offer the opportunity of discovering a country which is not only far away from Europe, but can also boast a wealth of culture that will be the experience of a lifetime for most participants.

I am at your disposal for any information you may need.

Max Hänsli (CHE), UNICA president

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UNICA delegates are enthusiasts. They love film. They want to talk about film. UNICA does not allow that.

It is time for a change. Yes, another change!

The UNICA festival is not like other competitions. Most films have already received awards in their own country. It is a competition between national federations. Few authors attend. When the jury discusses a block of films very few people stay to listen. They cannot take part.

I suggest:

  1. There is just one discussion each day starting at 21.00 and lasting no more than two hours.
  2. One of the UNICA committee is chairman. Jury and audience sit together. Anyone may speak. Jury members may take part but only if they wish to do so.
  3. We give priority to films where the authors are present and discuss them first. Then we discuss only some films - the ones which delegates want to talk about.

Delegates can share information about films. They can explain the traditions or politics of the land concerned. They can help each other understand films.

Some films might not be discussed. I do not think that is important at UNICA. It also means less discussion time each day and less work for the translators.

This year the jurors studied 123 films in one week. They had to talk about them immediately. There was no time to think first. There was no opportunity to discuss the films privately beforehand. What we said on stage was often dull and uninteresting. Let us not waste time in that way.

We have tried the present system for a few years. I think we could do better.

Dave Watterson (GBR), Juror at UNICA 2005

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UPortrait of Antonia Stabinger.NICA JEUNESSE 2005

This year I had the honour of having one of my films selected to take part in UNICA 2005, and also to be a member of the associated Jeunesse (Youth) Group.

After our arrival in Blankenberge, Belgium, we were all welcomed to the friendly UNICA family and looked after wonderfully. Our movies were interestingly appraised and rewarded. Despite the sometimes very different ways of thinking: from the Korean one to the Latvian one to the Argentinean ones, we soon all gelled into the Jeunesse Group. We watched the main film programme together, studied each other's productions, and plunged into long discussions about art in general and film making in particular. At the same time, we compared our different cultures. On the excursions together we enjoyed Belgium's old architecture and its culinary delights.

During the week, we began to work hard on our Youth Productions, which were partly planned and partly created through pure improvisation. This gave us a chance to compare the way we worked in directing, shooting and editing - and to learn from each other. So, in the end we returned home - more experience and inspired. And who knows, maybe there will be a reunion at UNICA 2006?

Antonia Stabinger (AUT)

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Portrait of Rolf Leuenberger.Belgium, the country - although not the most famous holiday destination in the world, Belgium has all the right qualities for a great vacation: sun, sand, sea, natural landscapes, historic places, good food and friendly people.

Blankenberge, the place - is set beautifully close to the sea, although it seems a little overwhelmed by a building boom and flood of tourists. However, again and again in the central area, the curious visitor can find architecturally interesting, individual old houses dating from the time when pictures first learned to move. I specially enjoyed solitary walks by the sea in the mornings and evenings.

Organisation, the helpers - every event of this size needs a seasoned organising team, many helping hands and heads. In the name of every delegate I thank the translation team and the technicians who all performed perfectly. If a problem arose, it was recognised and handled at once. If one was reported it was immediately dealt with. Even a bottle of gin could be arranged in a flash.

Meals, the pleasure - the inevitable queuing for food sometimes afforded us interesting conversations with those suffering the same wait. Unfortunately, several times, the jury had only half an hour for a meal, coffee and a little peace. It is certainly a tribute to the quality of the meals, however, that I suffered no digestive problems during the film screenings. A whole week on "catering food" - but it tasted fine to me. During the breaks, I also enjoyed the regional specialities - especially the chocolate creams.

Films, the selections - all the films shown in the national programmes were, for me, one of the high points of this UNICA. Different countries, different cultures, different opinions and of course different cinematic ways of showing everyday life and interpersonal problems - presented an unbeatable intensity of impressions and emotions in film art.

Climaxes, the gems - each spectator and jury member has some films which particularly pleased them. These high-points stand clear of the rest. Sometimes a certain film struck me and maybe just a few others as a real gem. To my delight I found some such gems.

Authors, the discussions - without authors (film makers) there would be no films, without authors present there could be no interesting and enlightening conversations about the films seen. Bernhard Hausberger is an author who specially wanted to be present in person, despite his illness. He deserves a speedy convalescence. I salute him on behalf of us all.

Jeunesse, the young people - when the block of the Jeunesse films was announced, a large part of the public left the hall as if they had been waiting for that signal. A shame, a great shame ... but let's leave these people to their belief that they would not be missing anything.

Jury, the conscientious - Diana the Croatian, Julien and Michel from Belgium, Dave the Scotsman, Pawel the Pole, Georg the Austrian and I the Swiss had to conscientiously watch movies then discuss, assess and reward them with medals on the basis of a 5 to 2 the majority. With many films, we were unanimous. With others, however, we had quite different, diverging opinions. The fine composition of the jury proved to be very enriching in our internal discussions. The personal experiences of life and different cultural views of individual jurors contributed to a balanced analysis and a good total understanding of exceptional films.

Awards, the ordeal of selection - the first round for the jury was on Friday night to select the films which would be considered in Saturday's public jury discussion about medals. There were huge differences in quality between the programmes from different countries, so we found ourselves forced to rule out some countries. Nor had the jury come to any secret agreement about the awarding of medals. The list of awards is only the mathematical sum of the individual, personal opinions of all seven jurors.

Discussions, the absentees - I would gladly have led a public session after the medal awards to involve both jurors and authors in constructive discussions. Since neither authors or jurors can be absolutely objective, common dialogue is the only practical way to build a bridge between creators (authors) and consumers (audience/jurors).

UNICA 2005, the unforgettable - for me personally this UNICA, my first as a member of the jury, was the best experience of non-commercial films I have had in over 30 years. More than 120 mainly outstanding films in only four-and a half days of screening. Many public film discussions, numerous interesting conversations in front of and behind the scenes. Contacts with people from around the world. An unforgettable week in an interesting place. My cordial thanks goes to the active and passive participants at UNICA 2005 in Blankenberge, Belgium. May we meet again soon.

Rolf Leuenberger, Lugano (CHE)

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