John Henshaw joins cast of Rochdale Pioneers, about birth of Co-op movement

It started with 28 men in Rochdale in 1844. Now there are over a billion members of co-operatives worldwide - with combined turnover each year in the UK alone of £33bn. A new film from the British Youth Film Academy, funded by the Co-Operative Group will tell how it all began. Filmed in the Greater Manchester area as part of The Co-operative’s activities to highlight this year as the International Year of Co-operatives, the 52-minute feature tells the story of - and gains its working-title from - ‘The Rochdale Pioneers’ and their vision for a better social order which established the co-operative movement.

Actor John Henshaw plays the role of John Holt, one of the original members of The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers, in the film. Well known for roles in Early Doors, Born and Bred, Looking for Eric and Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, John Henshaw said: “I am delighted to be involved with "The Rochdale Pioneers”. It’s a brilliant initiative, BYFA brings together talented people from all backgrounds and all levels of skill to work hard together to make film - it’s good fun, a pleasure to work on, I am really enjoying it. The application, dedication and professional standards is inspiring and, it bodes well for the British Film Industry that the wealth of talent out there is being supported, encouraged and nurtured by The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy.”

British Youth Film AcademyThe new film is inspired by the 1944 film ‘Men of Rochdale’. It is funded by The Co-operative Group – the UK’s largest mutual business – and is being filmed and produced by The Co-operative's British Youth Film Academy. The co-directors of the new film, Adam Lee Hamilton and John Montegrande, along with its producer, Kevin Atkinson, worked together on the BYFA movie ‘Julius Caesar’ which was selected for the international Raindance Film Festival in London, October 2011. Kevin Atkinson, Operations Director of The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy and producer for the new film, commented: “Through the medium of film, we are bringing the spirit, heart and belief of the original pioneers to a brand new audience.”

The original 28 ‘Pioneers’ were all working men. After a year of trading (1845) membership had increased to 74 and total takings for the year reached £710. Soon the Pioneers’ fame spread overseas and today, there are one billion members of co-operatives worldwide and, in the UK alone combined sector turnover exceeds £33 Billion. Mark Robinson-Field, The Co-operative’s National Co-operative and Membership Manager, said: “Over 160 years-ago the original Rochdale pioneers set out the ideals which became the basis for the principles on which co-operatives around the world still operate to this day. 

“Now, with one billion members of co-operatives world-wide and a thriving co-operative sector enjoying international attention, we believed the time was right for this inspirational story to be re-told.” The film will be distributed internationally and plans are in place for it to be screened at the co-operative world festival and expo at Manchester Central in autumn 2012. To follow the progress of the film or for more information visit www.co-operative.coop/2012

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Studio Beyond Film Competition

Studio Beyond, the global online business platform for the entertainment industry,  is accepting submissions for its first "Notable Filmmaker" competition.

The winning trailers will be shown on our "Movie City" homepage as well as in our ‘Executive’s Online Screening Room’ where sales agents, distributors, film financiers, film festivals, producers have gathered to watch your movies.  

How to submit your work: Register for FREE on www.studiobeyond.net and then apply to the Talent Call opened by Studio Beyond by clicking on the red Alert once you enter your online studio office.

Contest ends 20th Dec, 2012 www.studiobeyond.net

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LFF review: We Need to Talk about Kevin

tildakev

Warning: spoilers (as far as I can spoil the plot of a very famous 8-year-old book for you)

Ah. "We need to talk about Kevin." The words that the eponymous Kevin (Ezra Miller/Jasper Newell/ Rocky Duer)'s mother Eva (Tilda Swinton) never manages to say to her sweet, blinkered husband Franklin (John C Reilly).

Lynne Ramsay's fine adaptation of the very unloveable 2003 novel dispenses with the epistolary form of the original, and is instead structured around Eva's life post-massacre, with flashes of the past forcing continually pushing to the surface. Kevin's actions have defined her current situation; the film shows us how.

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LFF review: Shame

dinner

Artist/director Steve McQueen's second feature (following 2008's Hunger), follows the unravelling New York existence of sex addict Brandon (Michael Fassbender). Living alone, he (seemingly) happily picks up girls in bars, orders prostitutes like takeout and masturbates in the work loos after watching porn on his computer. It's a tad compulsive, but his outward charm and ability to just about hold it together is keeping people fooled.

Then, his volatile, attention-seeking sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) turns up to stay in his apartment, and things slowly fall apart.

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LFF opens with Fernando Meirelles' 360

juderachelThe 55th BFI London Film Festival opens tonight! 

Oh. Fernando Meirelles. This is no City of God. This isn't even Love Actually.

It just. Doesn't. Work. So... there's sex trafficking, infidelity, infidelity, people meeting on a plane, loooooads of interminable airport scenes, a brilliant bit of Anthony Hopkins in AA (but his character never rings true), pretty brunettes bringing sad guys redemption through their smiles, a thumping and terribly obvious score (we're with Russian people now, does it sound Russian enough???)... 

It never feels as though there is a meaning behind these superficially interconnected lives. And if there was meant to be a main character, well, giving her a bit of voiceover at the start and at the end... that isn't consistent enough. Sadly.

There are several narrative strands but only one or two will keep you sitting there waiting for more. It's a shame.

Don't worry though; the London Film Festival has a lot more to offer. As for Meirelles? Hopefully he'll get back on form asap.

The London Film Festival is running 12-27 October 2011. For more information, please go to http://www.bfi.org.uk/lff/

suchandrika.wordpress.com

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International Markets Business School (IMBS)

International Markets Business School The Media Business School (MBS) is delighted to announce the launch of calls for applications to participate in the IMBS – International Markets Business School, a new training initiative focusing on international sales and distribution for entertainment industry professionals from Europe and Latin America.

The deadline for applications will be the 26th of September 2011.

The IMBS will take place from the 27-29th of October in Sao Paulo, during the Sao Paulo International Film Festival.  This intensive, 3-day, project based course, is organised by the MBS in collaboration with Cinema do Brasil and Universidade Lusofona, with the support of MEDIA Mundus, the Ibermedia Programme, ICAA (Spanish Ministry of Culture) and the São Paulo International Film Festival.

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Win tickets for FROM POLAND WITH SHORTS and two copies of Andrzej Munk's PASSENGER on DVD

From Poland With Shorts, which aims to promote the talent and diversity of young Polish cinema and filmmakers, comes to London’s Riverside Studios for four screenings between 17th and 18th September. The screenings will include short films of some of the most talented new directors in Poland alongside a restored version of Andrzej Munk’s classic film Eroica. 

The screenings include Three for the Taking (Trójka do wzięcia) -a moving film about a 16-year-old girl whose life is changed when she discovers that her mother has a terminal illness - from the Oscar nominated director Bartek Konopka, Echo, a troubling story of two young boys who recreate an unspeakable crime for the police, and Out Of Reach (Poza zasiegiem) a documentary which won the Golden Dragon for Best Film in 2010 at the prestigious Krakow Film Festival. 

To celebrate Netribution are giving two sets of tickets for the screenings (1 pair for the 17th and one pair for the 18th) alongside two DVD copies of Passenger directed by Andrezj Munk courtesy of Second Run DVD, the premiere DVD company specialising in the release of important and award-winning films from all around the world. Passenger has been called 'one of the most audacious fictions ever made about the Holocaust'. Director Munk died in a car crash, aged just 39, in the middle of filming. His friend, Witold Lesiewicz, and his colleagues decided to complete the film to what they believed were Munk's intentions and assembled it using the existing footage, Munk's still photographs and a voice-over narration. Finally released in 1964, the film won main awards at Cannes and Venice and has been described by those who have seen it as an unfinished masterpiece. Unseen for far too long, this is the first-ever DVD release of this unique film anywhere in the world.

To win tweet the following @Netribution:

Win tickets for FROM POLAND WITH SHORTS and Andrezj Munk's PASSENGER on DVD. Go to http://bit.ly/mWNptA and RT this to win!

Winners will be notified on Thursday evening

The screenings take place at the Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, London on Saturday 17th September and Sunday 18th September. 

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Is this The Hour? Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

tinkold

The interiors of this latest adaptation of John Le Carré's 1973-set novel look and feel like just like the those of the BBC's recent drama series, The Hour, set in their 1956 newsroom. Even the plots are alike - there's a Russian spy in our very English midst, which one is he (it's never gonna be a she)?

The main clues as to which era we're in are found outside - the odd black or Asian person popping up in the corner of a frame, a girl in hotpants, the lovely cars. Inside the Circus [the highest level of  British intelligence], though, it's all closed and brownish and peopled by grey men. The Cold War is still very much on, and this film sets the scene expertly.

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55th BFI London Film Festival programme revealed


From the British Film Institute:

We're excited to announce the line-up for this year's BFI London Film Festival, which will showcase 204 feature films and 110 shorts over 16 days.

In addition to our previously announced opening and closing night films, Fernando Meirelles' 360 and Terence Davies'  The Deep Blue Sea [pictured left, starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston], Gala highlights include George Clooney's The Ides of March, Alexander Payne's The Descendants, Lynne Ramsay's We Need to Talk About Kevin and David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method. This year's Archive Gala title is the BFI National Archive's restoration of Miles Mander's The First Born with a new score by Stephen Horne. 

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CALL FOR ENTRIES - Lancaster Children's Film Festival 2012

Lancaster Children's Film Festival (LancsCFF) is issuing a call for entries for the upcoming 2012 festival, to take place from February 15th – 18th 2012.

Screenings will take place at the Dukes Cinema and various other venues around Lancaster.

For entry form and requirements go to: http://www.lancasterchildrensfilmfestival.co.uk/?page_id=34

Categories include:

· Live Action Feature: Any live action children’s or family feature (40mins+)

· Animation: Animated films with a run time of 40-120 mins suitable for child or family viewing

· Shorts: Any film under 40 mins. in length suitable for child or family viewing

· Child Filmmakers: Any films directed by persons of 16 years of age and under

Awards Categories:

· Audience Choice Award

· Young People’s Best of Fest Award: Chosen by young people aged 11 – 16

· Children’s Best of Fest Award: Chosen by Children’s Jury aged 8 -11

Submission Deadlines:

Early deadline December 1st 2011

Final deadline December 14th 2011

All submissions by DVD only.

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Sailcloth Awarded Grand Jury Prize for Short Film at Rhode Island Int. Film Festival

UK short film, SAILCLOTH by Elfar Adalsteins and starring John Hurt has been awarded the highest accolade at the 15th Annual Rhode Island International Film Festival - the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short. As a result of winning at Rhode Island the film automatically qualifies for consideration for an Oscar® by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences™.

'Sailcloth by Elfar Adalsteins is a brilliant and poignant work that touches at the core of the human experience. Brilliantly acted and expertly realized, leaves little doubt that a new creative voice in world cinema has burst upon the scene.' George T. Marshall, Chair of RIIFF Jury.

This year RIIFF received a record 4,537 submissions from filmmakers representing more than 60 countries worldwide. Sailcloth’s writer and director Elfar Adalsteins was on hand to receive the prize at the festival; which also marked the film’s World Premiere:

‘It is an absolute privilege to receive this award at Rhode Island – we couldn’t ask for a better platform to launch our film. It was a true honour to partake in a festival that really puts the interests of filmmakers first.’

The film tells the story of an elderly widower (played by John Hurt) who veils his disappearance from a nursing home to embark on one final journey on his beloved sailboat. Filmed on location in beautiful village of St Mawes in Cornwall, John Hurt was drawn to the project after reading Elfar Adalsteins’ script and was quick to spot his potential: 

'I read the script, I liked the idea and I met Elfar and it was quite obvious that he was a player and that cemented it for me.'

The 17-minute short is completely non-dialogue and the Oscar-nominated actor usually famed for his dramatic speaking roles relished the chance to take on such a part:

'The spoken word is not essential in film - it can be useful but it's wonderful if it is not necessary.'

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Audiences: Making Film Pay and Play in the Digital Future

Producers, distributors and exhibitors are all using digital marketing tools to promote films and get them seen by audiences. Too often, however, they are working in isolation from one another. This pioneering programme will bring together professionals from across the film industry chain to explore a cross-sector, streamlined approach to building audience interest in independent film.

It will be a unique opportunity for film companies to foster partnerships on joint initiatives, at the same time as being inspired by case studies of innovative practice in digital marketing.

Who is it for?

We are seeking around 35 forward-thinking professionals working in production, distribution and exhibition who are interested in exploring new business models and industry partnerships for using digital technologies to engage audiences. Roles of participants may include CEOs, acquisitions, sales, marketing, press, communications, audience development, programming, plus professionals from film industry support agencies. While we would encourage participants to attend the full series of six workshops, a single place on the programme can be shared between colleagues within the same company if appropriate.

How is it structured?

The programme comprises six one-day workshops spread over one year. Each day will offer inspiration from digital experts, case studies of innovative models from within the film industry and other industries (eg. music, TV, advertising…), plus practical group sessions to explore new ways of working together. Between workshops, participants can continue conversations and update each other on projects through an online forum.

What does it cover?

The programme will retain a degree of flexibility, responding to participants’ own business needs, project proposals and emerging ideas. Topics will include:

  • What digital marketing techniques are producers, distributors and exhibitors using to build audiences for independent film? How can they combine forces to work together on long-term, strategic promotional campaigns?
  • What does each sector know about audiences for independent film and how can we share this information?
  • How can crowdsourcing and crowdfunding ensure audience buy-in from the outset?
  • What is the potential of on-demand cinema and other flexible programming models?
  • What lessons can be learnt from TV, music and advertising industry experiences of cross-platform promotions?
  • How can collaboration across the film industry be built into working practice?

The workshops will be hosted by BBC Radio 4 technology journalist Simon Cox and will feature presentations from creative digital thinkers.

 

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Greenpeace Film Competition - 17 September to 1 October

Greenpeace film competition

Volkswagen says it wants to be the most eco-friendly car manufacturer in the world. But it’s spending millions trying to stop laws to make cars more efficient and cut climate change emissions. On September 17, Greenpeace is launching an international film competition. We need your help to expose the real VW – the one behind the billboards.

You’ll have two weeks from the launch date to make a one minute film on the competition brief. That brief is secret for now, but we promise you it’s going to make you want to fuse your creativity with your conscience.

For more information and to sign up for the competition brief, visit http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/filmcompetition.

The best films will be screened at a special event at the Curzon Soho in London (and you’ll be invited along). They’ll be seen by thousands of people around the world and be a key part of our climate campaign.

We have a prestigious panel of judges, and if your film is the winner you will be awarded a £5,000 budget to make Greenpeace’s next campaign movie.

Join us for the special launch event: 10am on Saturday 17 September at the Curzon Soho when we make public the competition brief (although you don't need to attend to enter).

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How to support the indie film & music companies who lost 1000s of DVDs/CDs in Enfield fire

00:38 9/8/2011: Camden Town, LondonAs well as helping the countless small businesses and shops who've lost stock and suffered damage, buying digital downloads from any of the indie companies who've lost all their stock in the huge depot fire in Enfield would be a nice thing to do. It might mean the difference for some between surviving or closing as they try to manage cashflow in the weeks or months it will take for the insurance to come thru, when many are already struggling. If you know of other companies, please let me know - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Below are the links to the main websites for each distributor I could find - they should of course also be available thru normal channels (LoveFilm, Amazon, iTunes, etc). Bear in mind if you're ordering DVDs there will probably a good wait for delivery - even better perhaps is if you say in the notes with your order that you are in no rush - and to preferably buy a download/stream.

Update 1 -  Brendan Connelly at Bleeding Cool is also building a good list - worth checking as it has direct links to specific titles that can be downloaded/streamed

Update 2 - Network DVD have taken their shop offline and promise it back within a few weeks. I'm not sure if this because of legal requirements to ship within 28 days of order, or if it will cause problems with their system. Either way perhaps a sign that it might be best not to buy DVDs from distributors before they've had a chance to either take off their shop or publish a statement.

Update 3 - Artificial Eye and Human Film also confirmed. The Bleeding Cool list has lots more direct links and other distributors. 

Arrow - ArrowFilms.co.uk to buy DVDs

Artificial Eye - lost their entire 300-title stock.

BFI - has lost 120,000 units with lots to chose from. Get on DVD or preferably online at Jaman, BlinkBox or LoveFilm or get a membership to download films and more.

Dogwoof - distributor of social documentaries lost 50,000 units. dogwoof.com/itunes for iTunes, for DVD club (worth joining), Pop-up Cinema to organise a screening and Dogwoof.tv for streaming

Guerilla Films - tireless supporter of British indies has lost 60,000 units. Guerilla-Films.com to buy DVDs

Human Film - producers of Aahlam and Son of Babylon

Kaledoscope - can't currently find a direct link to buy, but they will be on sites like amazon.co.uk

Metrodome - DVDs available to buy in subsites under Critical Acclaim, Epic Asia, Horror, Action/Thriller and War as well as normal download platforms.

Network DVD - lost all their stock and are not taking online orders until things are back to normal in 'a few weeks'. You can follow them on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

Pecadillo Pictures - lost 50-60,000 units. PeccaPics.com to get DVDs and iTunes links from their Facebook page.

Revolver - Revolver DVD/Blue Ray here, LoveFilm, BlinkBox and iTunes links here.

Urbanized Film - aka Gary Hutwist, director of Helvetica and Objectified. You can buy Helvetica here, Objectified here, and in the US get tickets to the new film Urbanized here.

Meanwhile there were over 150 independent record labels using PIAS distribution - including Domino, XL, One Little Indian and Warp whose stock has been destroyed, leaving companies 'devestated'. There's a list here - http://thequietus.com/articles/06729-help-riot-struck-pias-buy-mp3s

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Last few days to submit to Encounters Bristol for Oscar shortlisting

submitted by Encounters

ENCOUNTERS BRISTOL INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (16 – 20 NOVEMBER)

DEADLINE 30 JUNE

There are only a few days left to submit your short film or animation to the 17th Encounters Bristol International Film Festival (16-20 November). Submit by 30th June for a chance to win over 10,000UKP worth of prizes, or a prestigious short film award nomination (Academy Awards®, European Film Awards, BAFTAs, Cartoon D'Or).

The festival is offering heavy reductions for multiple submissions, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ASAP if you are interested in submitting more than one film.

SUBMIT NOW AT WWW.ENCOUNTERS-FESTIVAL.ORG.UK

Here are the following awards and prizes available this year for competition strands Animated Encounters and Brief Encounters:

- 2 Grand prix Awards. Prize: 2,000UKP* (& Academy Award® short-listing)
- 2 European New Talent Awards, eligible to European Graduating films or first time European director credits. Prize: 1,000euro*
- 2 Best of British Awards. Prize: 1,000UKP* (all films qualify for BAFTA live action & animation awards)
- 2 Best of the South West Awards. Prize: 500UKP*
- A Documentary Award. Prize: 1,000UKP*
- An Experimental Award. Prize: 1,000UKP*
- A Children’s Jury Award. Prize: 500UKP*
- DepicT! Awards (details at www.depict.org)

Short films and animations are eligible from all over the world, completed from 1 Jan 2010, under 30 minutes in length from every genre (animation, live action drama, documentary, experimental and music video). The submission fee for a digital entry is 20UKP, and for a DVD entry it is 25UKP.

Be part of one of the UK's most prestigious celebrations of short film, and emerging talent.

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Combative Filmmakers and Breakdances as Sheffield DocFest winds up

hellandbackSheffield Documentary Film Festival wound up on Sunday, with a brief interlude before the Scottish Documentary Film Institute hosts the Edinburgh Pitch on Tuesday and prior to the Edinburgh Film Festival officially kicking off on Wednesday. Filmtastic week. As was probably part of the rational to shift Sheffield to June (which it has wanted to do for almost 4 years), many of the commissioners who’ve come from abroad will also make their way to Edinburgh in the week. How well this plays out over the next fortnight, for ‘decision makers’ and film-makers, we’ll find out once Edinburgh gets under way.

But back to the closing weekend at Sheffield, which hosted a masterclass with Nick Broomfield, and a UK premiere of Hell and Back Again by Danfung Dennis - the movie everyone headed for on Saturday night. It struck me that at both events’ Q and A sessions, the curiosity - when not technical - revolves around the film-maker’s personality: what are the relationships with protagonists; how do they get the access; what are the moral implications at times for a film-maker’s politics?

Dennis’s film is an exquisitely shot work focused on a batallion posted 18 kilometres inside ‘enemy’ lines in Afghanistan, and more specifically on Sergeant Nathan Harris, badly wounded and recuperating back in North Carolina. This is Dennis’s first film; his background is as a war photographer, which results in a filmic aesthetic more often found in grand cinema than an on-the-hoof documentary.  Careful composition, stunning resolution and a shallow depth of field combine to take us a long way from the rather garish grain of the low-budget video look. The result is extraordinary considering that Dennis was a solo operator and his rig was a Canon 5D stills camera with a boom and radio mic combined and balanced on a monopod. As a man of slight build and quiet personality projection, that he was inches from where bullets and incendiary devices landed made one aware of the physicality of such film-making. But it also explained the film’s visceral impact: immediacy ensures the powerful imagery because the decision-making and shot-taking are simultaneously in his hands. Broomfield, in commenting on footage caught for Soldier Girls, pointed out that capturing extraordinary moments is about trust between collaborators – there often just isn’t time for discussions with crew when drama kicks off. He cites an example of a crew member being practically assaulted by Sarah Palin security when they were ejected from a meeting: Broomfields’s camera people were so freaked that they couldn’t shoot. For him, what happens on the way to filming is where the story is, so you need to know that the cameras will keep rolling, whatever happens. And as Dennis illustrated, at times with very graphic footage, backing off is not what he does at any point.

And this brings us to the issue of politics. Dennis side-steps them - the story is very much from the soldiers’ viewpoint. This does leave the Afghanistan sequences rather untethered, notwithstanding an instance of jaw-dropping irony delivered by an officer during one of many contretemps with Afghan villagers. He expressed the hope, in the course of a hearts and minds talk, that the villagers - whose homes and fields they’re trampling through or squatting in - will come in time to consider him a village leader. But US imperialism aside, there’s also the politics of editorialising, and Dennis included a scene of a horrifically wounded man (from a 100 hours of footage shot), which he said was necessary in order to represent the brutal reality of war. But this was an Afghan member of the platoon, and as this was a battalion who had lost 13 men in total, the sub-text of the question asked of Dennis was; would he have shown a US soldier in similar circumstances? The death of an American early in the film was respectfully unintruded upon.

Broomfield was dealing with politics of a different kind in The Leader, His Driver and His Wife – the latter two characters apartheid supporters, even if not of the venality of Eugene Terre’Blanche, ‘The Leader’ in this case. Broomfield maintained that it’s the place and time of a person’s birth which determines their politics – so there but for the grace of God go all of us. Broomfield’s intolerance is of dishonesty, or a subject window dressing their own representation on camera; generally his moral compass points to non-judgement. In relation to access, Dennis needed to clear a mountain of bureaucracy to get access to the platoon – Broomfield, one sensed, would get it with sheer force of will. I wouldn’t like to be up against Broomfield in a war of anything: I know who would win. But Broomfield is engaging and fun, and I imagine that the bug-eyed innocent face he deploys when in trouble with either his producer or Heidi Fleiss oils many a cranky cog in the production process.

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Sheffield DocFest and Money : The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

the_greatest_movie_ever_sold_posterMorgan Spurlock’s POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold officially opened the 18th Sheffield Documentary Film Festival on Wednesday evening, also providing the doc with its European premiering slot. Product placement and chasing sponsorship lolly was the film’s raison d’être, and as I write this I’m drinking a bottle of POM Wonderful itself, dished out free in the delegate centre. Yes, that’s right; the title of the movie is the name of a pomegranate drink.

"Spurlock arrived for the Q and A in a blazer adorned with sponsor logos, like the Lewis Hamilton of doc"

Spurlock does film about excess: too much liver fat in Super Size Me and now too much product placement in POM Wonderful. POM, the company, got the title slot as they gave him the most money to make the doc - $1 million: $400K upfront, £100K for the ad (there were ads through the film for various products including horse mane shampoo) and the last $500K for delivering on rigorous media impression and exposure targets. All the other sponsors, from petrol stations to deodorant brands, made up the remaining half a million. And it was not easy money: Spurlock himself cold-called 600 firms and it took 9 months to get the first yes. With a 1.5% rate of return on the successes versus the no’s, it’s a time investment strategy that’s pretty low yield.

But taking the desire for objects - and the desire to sell them - barefacedly into the ‘transparent’ world of the doc, Morgan seeks to turn the taint of lucre association on its head by dispensing with the secrecy. But the hallowed opinions on screen of no less than Noam Chomsky and various professors of media point out that once you dip your toe into the commodification pool, you’re sucked in to swimming with the sharks and may be ideologically eaten by the monster you seek to parody. Spurlock arrived for the Q and A in a blazer adorned with sponsor logos, like the Lewis Hamilton of doc. A concern is; does high irony shake off the brand association? And Spurlock’s ‘brand’ – what made him an investment option in the first place is - according to an agency who do this stuff - ‘mindful and playful’. With everything up for sale now, even our personalities have a price. Can the ‘objectivity’ of the doc filmmaker as a ‘trust’ aspect of brand be sustained after the immersion in the world of merchandise?

However, the film itself is zippy, pacy and funny. The first third is highly entertaining with knock-backs flying and Spurlock’s pitching sessions to the marketing men a reminder that he’s always a high energy, engaging guy. And, nicely, no-one gets to look bad – it’s the antithesis of a Baron Cohen approach. Spurlock isn’t taking the Michael, and when he’s asked by a would-be sponsor if he’s ‘just blowing sunshine up their ass’ for the money, we know he is – and so do they. With such candour and personality amongst the sponsors, they become doc characters in their own right - they even got a standing ovation at the screening in Sundance.

"With everything up for sale now, even our personalities have a price. Can the ‘objectivity’ of the doc filmmaker as a ‘trust’ aspect of brand be sustained after the immersion in the world of merchandise?"Whether the film does ‘make us more aware’ of placement pervasiveness – Spurlock’s claim in the Q and A - is questionable. Doc audiences are arguably already ‘aware’. It was after all teenagers in US schools exposed in class to ads that provoked the idea for the movie in the first place. His intention is that POM Wonderful follows Super Size Me as an educational resource. We wish him luck in tackling the multi-billion dollar product placement industry and de-programming the craving for brand that so much of modern life is defined by.

But Spurlock was bold in asserting that doc makers can’t be too purist about where money comes from – US foundations doling out money for docs are often funded through business after all. And if even the public-good realm of non-fiction film may seem like a longer shot in terms of return for investors, Spurlock now realises he undersold himself: he not only met all the targets for the money given, he surpassed them. As he said, he didn’t plan for success.

Having been too late for a packed out Just Do It, we went to see Sky’s production of Flying Monsters 3D, first shown on their 3D channel Christmas Day 2010, so this is no journalistic coup. However, the demographically-minded title belies a fascinating, thoughtful and gob-smacking looking film. And here was another documentary with an educational remit – it will show in museums for 2 or 3 years, and has had outings in IMAX and other theatres to date. This was the flip of the shoestring budget doc, so I asked in the Q and A how much it cost. ‘Lots’ was the abrupt and very non-commital reply from the commissioner. An icy air descended in the auditorium. The line producer swiftly attempted to lift the mood with a jolly ‘and more!’ I forgot we were dealing with Sky. We’d been exposed to a culture of transparency and plain-talking with POM Wonderful, so talking about money seemed culturally acceptable – it is why the Festival exists.  But Sky’s remit is to corner and conquer markets – even those with a public service character. I guess the rather fabulous amounts they will pay to dazzle in the 3D world is not an investment they’re comfortable about sharing yet.

Documentary as a Festival phenomenon is, at Sheffield, a success, big or low budget. This year it’s more delegates than before – over 2000 - and more decision makers – over 200. How this pans out with all that austerity around is yet to be seen. But no-one ever went into documentary with thoughts of mega-money on their mind. Apart, possibly, from Sky.

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The Co-Op increases funding for British Youth Film Academy

A professional youth film company that has worked with over 10,000 young people in the past year has received a massive boost with The Co-operative Group announcing its continued support and funding until at least 2014.

Forming an integral part of its commitment to Inspiring Young People, The Co-operative’s £1.2 million, six year, partnership with The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy (BYFA) is helping to create the UK’s most accessible youth film making academy.

With eight films in the can and, a further four planned for 2011, students are mentored by professionals from both the film industry and education and offered everything from acting to make-up, wardrobe to camera and, post production through to the red-carpet experience.

 

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Personal filmmaking abounds at impressive 51st Krakow Film Festival

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Amateur: barely a few letters from Auteur - but what, in our social media world, is the difference? If there was a dividing line of the 51st Krakow Film Festival, it was between the crowed-sourced YouTube world of Life in a Day and the personal journeys of documakers turning their lives and experiences into art. Less a debate between high and low art, as between the home movie and the knowingly crafted self-expose. 

The journey of Daniela Creutz as her fiance arranged the wedding of his sister in Kashmir in Arranged Happiness. Thor Ochsner's award winning debut film 1989: When I was five years old, about the loss of his father in a tragic car crash as a child. Bente Milton and Mikkel Stolt's Second Life psychosis and recovery tale in My Avatar and Me (which demands its own review and discussion). 20 years of home movies for an Italian teenager-turned-IBM executive who reluctantly concedes to being the reincaration of a famous Buddhist lama, claiming a prince-like life as the guru to hundreds of thousands of Tibettans in Jennifer Fox's My Reincarnation (which just became the fourth highest earning film on Kickstarter). Wojciech Staroń's Argentinian Lesson - widely hailed as a masterpiece, picked up four prizes about transplanting his family to Argentina to teach Polish. All people turning their life and personal circumstances into art - a more informed version of something online video uploaders do every day, without the gala premieres.

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So, tho it was decried by some, Life In a Day, winner of the Audience Award, was an appropriate opener, I thought - like an extended trailer for the buffet of global human experience that the rest of the festival was serving up. It might have played a bit like an advert for an airline company (produced by one of Europe's biggest commercials companies, funded by Google) but it seemed to open the festival with that key question - who is a documaker? Is it simply the one with a camera who knows how to edit out the dross and emphasise the good? Or is it one who went to film school or who has the most Twitter followers or Vimeo views? And in a world where any human story can be repurposed as art, at what point does the artist become mosquito, their lens sucking the honesty out of a raw stretch of life for quick fame, views or laughs? I'm not sure I trust the anonymous trolls of the internet to handle that one. Potentially not just commodification of self, to quote Adam Curtis quoting Carmen Hermosillo's (shatteringly brilliant) Pandora's Vox essay, but commodification of friends, family and intimate personal history.

[Some filmmakers I spoke to disliked the way the film was cut - and we agreed it would be good if the films were in a pool where differerent people could cut together stories from that day. Then a few days ago YouTube partnered with Creative Commons to offer the remix friendly licenses to uploaders for the first time, making such collaborations possible.]

There were other highlights in a more traditional form - Swedish emigre to Poland Magnus von Horn's Without Snow, a short film about brutal Swedish peer-pressure amongst teenagers with tragic consequences; Papparazzi by Piotr Bernaś; a brilliant insight into the life of a super-mosquito, hunting small fry, then Polanski, and finally - in a critical twist - the brother of the President after the Smolensk disaster. Battle for Britain, by husband and wife team Jörg Tittel and Alex Helfrecht, a simple and heartfelt hymn to the hundreds of thousands of Polish who fought in WWII for Britain. Horses and Men, a little long but with a deft cinematographic hand and great music was a tender story about the rehabilitation of American prisoners thru horsemanship. A highlight in the fiction strand for me was Glasgow, from the Wajda Studio, which looked at a single mum left pregnant from a famous Scottish footballer - a reference, perhaps, to the curious Scottish law that lets a man who refuses to put his name on the birth certificate to be absolved of all parental and financial responsibility. A relative newcomer to Polish cinema, retrospectives of the Norman McLaren-esque animator Piotr Kamler, and Woyjeck Wiszniewski revealed talents I was unaware of. Wiszniewski's work in particular made me want to quit the world of html and pick up a camera again - his silent jazz-pulsing informational against heart disease 'Heart Attack was both brilliant - like a cross breed of Vertov and Goddard - and disquieting, given it was this that killed him at 34.

The city

It was my first time in Krakow and Poland, the home of my grandfather, and the source of my strongest memory of cinema inspiration, watching the Three Colours trilogy back-to-back in a cinema in Bradford as a teenager. My impressions could fill an article in itself - it is beautiful, buzzing and quite irresistible.

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The office where I booked my apartment was also selling a variety of bubble machines - and this seemed an appropriate metaphor as too long in the old town and it's easy to believe the whole of Poland shares the picturesque fairy tale Disney charm and affluence. It's hard to believe Aushwitz, grave to 1.5 million, is half an hour away, but it's only referred to by tour-guides selling trips alongside the Salt Mines and the mountains. The filmmaker of Descrendo, about a camp but likeable nursing assistant in an old people's home, was apparently warned that a film with a gay character would never win an award, and the walls sported the odd swastika. But it is perhaps unfair to make too much of this in a country that is but a few decades out of a repressive and brutal regime, bedrocked in Catholicism and struggling to position itself in the centre of Europe amidst the onslaught and lure of free market capitalism, when centuries of foreign invasions have culminated in an endless round of stag parties, puking and pissing their way around the city.

Yet despite the cheap flights and drunk stag mobs, culture runs fast thru its veins - stepping off the train, instead of being confronted with a Burger King or WHSmiths, there's rows of second hand book stalls. The impressive new museum of modern art Mocak had opened just before the festival and showed a city with its feet comfortably astride both the past and the future. On the grounds of the Schindler Factory - which has a moving museum about occupied Krakow that is definitely worth a visit - Mocak's launch exhibition is about the reflection of history thru art (you are eerily welcomed with a glowing sign 'Kunst macht frei'). The historical presence of the Schindler factory (a short walk from the grounds of camp that is central to the film), besides a well curated museum digging deeper into the past, coupled with a smart new polished concrete art gallery reflecting this thru the prism of the 21st century. Old and new not battling each other for centre-stage but comfortable side by side - or at least face to face.

And it felt like this was the strength of the festival as well - a festival adapted to the modern age, but not surrendering a focus on great stories told well, to eye catching initiatives. So there was a daily newspaper, a daily video bulletin (remarkably well put together), a pitching forum, industry events, nightly parties, networking, videotheque, a filmmaking challenge (which resulted in the most brilliant four minute film about umbrellas you will ever see), outdoor screenings, a host of prizes presented at a ceremony with a leading Polish jazz band, a beautiful city plastered with posters and banners made from stills from the films, and most importantly, a big programme of cinema you will probably never see on TV or at your local 'plex. It's not perfect but it was gimmick-free and unashamedly cultural and human-centered. And my week in the city soon became two - thanks in part to the good company of fellow Man City fan James Hopkin and a sense that you could spend months exploring the city. It was an overdue and much needed reminder of the pleasures of being part of Europe and I left feeling recharged - I should have listened to Laurence Boyce before (it was his eighth festival) and got myself there years ago.

The awards are listed after the jump.

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