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UNICA Festivals: 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 |


UNICA is the world festival of amateur film, the one where nations compete. It lasts a week and moves to a different country each year. This year I was on the jury,  which was both an honour and a burden. Unfortunately the invitation to join the judging panel came some months after Jan and I had booked our flights and hotel. Although we touched down on time in Brussels, I had already missed a jury briefing, so to speed things up we skipped the train and took a taxi to the resort town of Blankenberge, near Ostende.

Beach huts on the sea front at Blankenberge.

Plumbers shop with huge model tap on its wall.

Picture of small house sandwiched between giant hotels.

Sand sculpture at Blankenberge.

It's a seaside town with bathing huts, quirky shops and a startling mix of architecture including some stunning sand-sculpture.

The UNICA Congress was based in the town's Casino complex with screenings in a huge hall that had removable raked seating. 400 delegates gathered from countries as far away as Korea and Argentina. There was a strong youth contingent who had workshop sessions and made movies as well as watching them.  UK had its biggest ever party, 36 of us:

Group photo of most UK delegates.

From left to right :

Back Row: Richard Rouillard, Dave Watterson, William Davis, John Gibbs, Patrick Woodcock, Ron Challen, Gerald Mee, Ron Prosser, Alex Dove.

Middle Row: Afifa Rouillard, Jan Watterson, Jane Gibbs, Christine Woodcock, Henry Metzger, Pat Menmuir, Mary Dove, Frank Brown, Brian Dunckley.

Front Row: Alice Dunckley, Val Ellis, Annabelle Lancaster, Mary Rouillard, Leonie Davis, Dorothy Speirs, Joy Prosser, Betty Jennings, Sheila Sutcliffe, Shirley Brown, Norman Speirs, Percy Childs.

Not in picture: Gillian Goddard, Eric Granshaw, Bill Greenhalgh, Robyn Marsh, Peter Rouilard - and the photographer, Reg Lancaster.

The Belgian hosts pulled out all the stops to make it a huge success.  After the formal opening ceremony speeches and raising of the UNICA banner, came entertainment from the Blankenberge Chanty Choir - singing sea-shanties in many languages. Their British offering was The Mingulay Boat Song which made the Scot in me proud. As is traditional we watched one of the gold medal winners from the previous year, L'amour by Charles Ritter of France - a stunning love story shot in a 7 minute single take, using a steadicam style on hi-8.

Then we all adjourned to the large cafeteria for the opening dinner and my first chance to meet the other six jurors.

Photo of Georg Schorner from Austria.

Photo of Julien Loncke from Belgium.

Photo of Pawel Leski from Poland.

Georg Schorner, an amusing and very helpful Austrian.

Julien Loncke our distinguished elder statesman and jury foreman, from Belgium.

Pawel Leski an actor and drama teacher from Poland who at nearly 2 metres is even taller than me.

Photo of Michel Creten from Belgium.

Photo of Rolf Leuenberger from Switzerland.

Photo of Diana Nenadic from Croatia.

Michel Creten a practical, experienced film juror from Belgium

Rolf Leuenberger, quick-witted and multi-lingual man from Switzerland.

Diane Nenadic, an insightful critic from Croatia who found working in English frustrating.

We began to bond quickly - and indeed became a very friendly group, though we often differed in our views on individual movies. As the meal arrived, so did a live band. We ate the first of the fine meals we were to enjoy in the casino that week to loud dance music. By the end of the evening some delegates were dancing on the tables! Who said UNICA delegates were stuffy and staid?

We headed for bed  shortly after 11pm for tomorrow the hard work began. What sort of movies did we face?  Find out on page 2 ...

UNICA 2005 British entries  |   Part 2 >>

Pictures in these pages mainly by Jan & Dave Watterson, but the good ones are by Bernhard Hausberger / Rolf Leuenberger / Jürgen Richarz / Reg Lancaster.

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Page updated on 16 January 2011
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