The IAC Star Ratings

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Dave Watterson
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The IAC Star Ratings

Post by Dave Watterson »

Until 2004 the IAC International Film & Video Festival divided entries into bandings called blue, bronze, silver and gold. (I believe the names were used because the office had a large supply of emblems in those colours!)

From 2005-2007 these were supplemented with bronze-plus and silver-plus bandings.

Since 2008 we have had 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5-Star bandings.

The final jury sees films from the top banding (i.e. before 2007 gold, after that 5-Stars) and assigns the 6 or 7 special quality awards (pre 2007 known as International Medallions, afterwards as IAC Diamonds) and the special prizes including the Daily Mail Trophy for best film overall.

So far we have only been able to offer short descriptions of what each banding represents. A few words cannot really describe each quality. But now on the main website we have a sample video from each star rating for you to watch. http://www.theiac.org.uk/central/biaff2 ... mples.html

It is important to note that these are not a carefully chosen selection, officially approved. We do not pretend that each is in the middle of its banding. They are simply samples whose makers have chosen to put them online.

Any comments?

Dave
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fraught
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by fraught »

I have to be honest... i'm not keen on the Star Ratings. I really liked the Bronze, Silver, etc. The certificates looked really nice and you felt like you had really won something... even if it was just a Blue.

But on the subject of the examples... i think as long as the owner is happy that they are shown in this way, then its fine. :)
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by Willy »

fraught wrote:I have to be honest... i'm not keen on the Star Ratings. I really liked the Bronze, Silver, etc. The certificates looked really nice and you felt like you had really won something... even if it was just a Blue.

But on the subject of the examples... i think as long as the owner is happy that they are shown in this way, then its fine. :)
I understand what you think, Fraught, but I have a slightly different opinion. In my town a certain filmmaker has been very successful at Unica. He is also an excellent filmmaker. However, he has written articles for the Press saying that he has won a bronze medal at Unica, the world festival. The readers think that he is 3rd, a world star. That's wrong of course. In fact he was "only" 33rd. I am only an ordinary member of the IAC and I can't take any desicions. However, I am very pleased that Dave asks us what we think about it. If I would be the "dictator" of the IAC I would do it as follows : 4 categories.
1. Fiction films gold, silver and bronze medals for the first, second and third.
2. Travelogues gold, silver and bronze medals for the first, second and third.
3. Documenataries gold, silver and bronze medals for the first, second and third
4. Animation gold, silver and bronze medals fir the first, second and third.

It's also like that in the Olympics, at the Commonwealth Games, etc... Gold =1, silver =2 and bronze =3
There is also an overall winner who receives the "Daily Mail Trophy".
Why in categories ? Because it is difficult to compare an animation film with a travelogue, etc...

And the other particpants ? A cerfticifate with "Very highly recommended", "Highly recommended" and "Recommended".
The star system is good for hotels and restaurants, not for films. I agree with you, Fraught, I don't like the star system.

In our Belgian regions this system is used. All filmmakers seem to accept this system with different categories.
Of course there should also be a separate category for film-students and commercial filmmakers.
What do you think about this system ?
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fraught
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by fraught »

Hi Willy. That system sounds good to me. :-)

Do you think the IAC could be persuaded to align themselves? ;-)
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by Willy »

fraught wrote:Hi Willy. That system sounds good to me. :-)

Do you think the IAC could be persuaded to align themselves? ;-)
I don't think so, Fraught. Unless, hundreds of other friends send messages to this forum to tell the IAC-VIPS that they also prefer such a system.

The centificates "Very highly commended", "Highly commended" and "Commended" is already used in the Guernsey Lily Festival. But gold, silver and bronze for the first, second and third in each category is something extra.
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by Dave Watterson »

Do you think the IAC could be persuaded to align themselves?

IAC exists to do what the majority of its members want. We were assured last year by Michael Gough that many National Council members read the forum, but if you want to make this - or any other point - you should email or write to Council members. The names and contact information are at http://www.theiac.org.uk/central/iaccouncil.html If you feel strongly enough about something, come to the AGM and raise the matter in the "Members' Voices" section of the meeting.

National Council is not a group of despots ... just hard-working enthusiasts like the rest of us. They do what they can and usually get very little feedback from members. Just keep in mind that they have to consider the wide picture on every issue. What would work well for you, or your area, might not suit everyone.

As I say all this, let me remind you that neither Jan or I is on Council ... and the forum has plenty of evidence that I do not always agree with decisions made. I'm not "defending my corner" just trying to give a balanced view.

-Dave

By the way ... is there not some resemblance between grading hotels and grading films? No two are exactly alike and sometimes the inspectors/judges must assess very different types.
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by ned c »

I agree that it is much easier on the judges if films are grouped by genre with awards to the winners in each genre. It is impossible to compare an experimental film with a narrative film and decide which is "better" than the other. It is not easy making judgements within genre but much easier than across all types of films. May I add my message to the IAC management and ask that they have a look at this approach? Also, please add a section for students, they are our future and although most of them will move on a few will retain their links with the n-c world and be our strength for the future.

ned c
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by Willy »

Dave Watterson wrote:
By the way ... is there not some resemblance between grading hotels and grading films? No two are exactly alike and sometimes the inspectors/judges must assess very different types.
Encouragement
It's just a feeling, Dave. I find the words "very highly commended", "highly commended" and "commended" better for certicifates or diplomas. It sounds better in my ears, maybe in my "continental ears". In fact I don't mind at all, but I always try to encourage Belgian and Dutch filmmakers to take part in British festivals. The more you can enthuse them the better. Beginners in particular find certificates very important. I have kept my very first bronze medal that I won in my club competition. I was so proud ! But the word "bronze" was a bit deceptive ! My first film with twenty zooms in three minutes was "rubbish". Mind ! You can only use the word "rubbish" when you talk about your own films !

I see stars ! I am a falling star ! I was born under a lucky star !
I looked for the word "star" in my dictionary. The first thing that I saw was "Een restaurant met drie sterren" which means "a three star restaurant". We never say "a three star certificate". But I also found some other expressions like "twinkling stars', 'a falling star', 'see stars', 'born under a lucky star', 'an up-and coming star/celebrity', 'starry night' (What a beautiful song about Vincent Van Gogh, our French-Dutch-Belgian painter, and what a beautiful painting !) and 'starry eyes'. All words and expressions that can be used when writing articles about films and filmmakers. Sorry, Dave, do not think that I am ridiculing the star system. It's already much better than bronze, silver and gold in the old system. Very essential is what Ned says : different categories (travel, fiction, animation, ...) should be used and also a special open category for students (rising stars) and why not for commercial filmmakers (falling stars) , but then we must delete the letter A in BIAFF. BIAFF becomes BIFF. I hate biffs. Last week I watched a Spanish film that won silver at Unica in Tunesia. A film about a blind man and his wife. Fantastic film ! One of the best I have ever seen. I have forgotten the title. Dave, help us ! Everybody should see it. Show it in your club and have a discussion about it. We did. It was a fascinating evening. The film started with "This is a real amateur film !"
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by Dave Watterson »

I was not at UNICA in Tunisia ... IN THE RAIN credited to "Auld Lang Syne" (actually Jan Baca) got a silver. The only other Spanish winner was LA CHIQUITA PICONERA about the lady who appears on their stamps. It got gold. Was it one of those?

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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by Willy »

Dave Watterson wrote:I was not at UNICA in Tunisia ... IN THE RAIN credited to "Auld Lang Syne" (actually Jan Baca) got a silver. The only other Spanish winner was LA CHIQUITA PICONERA about the lady who appears on their stamps. It got gold. Was it one of those?

Dave
Yes, it was "In the Rain", Dave. A wonderful film. Very, very, very highly commended ! Next week I will show it in my other club.
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by Dave Watterson »

How interesting! Several people who were at that UNICA said this was a relatively poor Jan Baca film and that he was talking about giving up now. Normally Jan Baca films have won unanimous golds and he has made 50 or 60 I believe.

Mind you a poor Baca film may well be superb by anyone else's standards!

And he is a true amateur. He is a distinguished architect. He works with professional actors who are pleased to work without fee for the sake of having one of his films on their CV.

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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by Willy »

Dave Watterson wrote:How interesting! Several people who were at that UNICA said this was a relatively poor Jan Baca film and that he was talking about giving up now. Normally Jan Baca films have won unanimous golds and he has made 50 or 60 I believe.
Dave
I didn't see his name in the credits, Dave. Maybe I closed my eyes for a few seconds when his name appeared. But you are right. I had already enjoyed a Baca film before and I recognized his specific style. All my Belgian clubmates found "In the Rain" better than the Hungarian one that won 7 times gold.

Professional actors OK !
Baca worked with professional actors. We could see it. The blind man in the film deserved an oscar. Also the main actress was outstanding. I am not against working with professional actors. I am only against selling films systematically to make capital out of them and to misuse stars, diamonds or certificates won at amateur competitions to stimulate the selling price of the "film products". It also means that I am not against making films about weddings and other things as an extra income. But it's better to stop that discussion. We have already sung that old song many times.

Victim of his reputation
Back to Baca. Yes, maybe he was disappointed. I could feel it when reading the text in the beginning of his film "In the Rain". Maybe he is a victim of his reputation at the moment and of taking part in festivals so many times. You told us that people in Tunesia found his film "In the Rain" relatively poor compared with the other ones made by him. In fact this is unfair. In a competition a judge or viewer must always compare the film with the other ones in the festival, not with the ones that the filmmaker has made before.

The best film in the competition won !
Last year after BIAFF when my Belgian friend Werner Van den Bulck came back from England - he was a final judge - he said to me : "He did it again ! What a fantastic film it was !" Werner meant Hausberger's film "Oldiegarage". "The best film in the competition !". The final judges could have said : "Let's take an other film. Bernard Hausberger has already won the "Daily Mail Trophy" and this one is not so powerful than "A Rather Different Year". So they took the right decision. The best film in the competition won !

Time for a change. Baca back to Spain !
Our former Belgian world champion Eddy Merckx won the Tour de France 5 times. The American Lance Armstong even 7 times. The French cycle fanatics wanted to get rid of them at the end. They put a spoke in their wheels. Someone punched Eddy's stomach when he was riding up a hill and Lance was accused of taking drugs without giving conclusive evidence. Maybe this comparison is exaggerated, but I mean that after some time people want some change which is normal, but not always fair.

Stars or no stars ? That was Dave's question.
Now we have wandered off from the subject, Dave ... Your subject ! : What do our forum-friends think about the star system ? I have already given my opinion.
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by Ken Wilson »

I said in conversations at BIAFF that I had some comments to make on the STAR rating system and at last, here they are. The star system is similar to what we had in the old TEN BEST. People understood it then and what the stars meant.
When I joined the IAC in 1994, I must admit that their grading system was confusing. I didn`t understand what Blue-Bronze-Silver-Gold meant and the International awards and Open categories were a complete puzzle. (Looking at the whole picture now, surely Diamond would have been better suited to the old Bronze-Silver-Gold idea?) But anyway, as I understand it, in recent years, due to a handful of people who misunderstood what the awards meant and travelled across great distances to the festivals in the mistaken belief that a "Silver" award meant they had come second in the whole competition, we had to change the complete system for everyone. This seems bizarre!
In a (more) ideal world, ALL judges/ adjudicators, would see ALL the films in a competition. Unfortunately, BIAFF is too big with too many films and so this is not possible. We know that there is a lottery element to the awards our films receive as different panels will give different results. For example, in 2007, we made a short sci-fi film which received 2 Stars at BIAFF. The judges openly said that their panel didn`t understand it and therefore we were marked down. Although it`s not a great film, I know that another panel (who did understand it) would have given it 3 stars. Such things are unfortunately unavoidable.
But it is very important that the many panels in the BIAFF judging system, work to the same criteria. We need to try to make the judging fair and as uniform as it can be, but Chestefield made it clear that this is not the case at present. The new star system is just not working.
It doesn`t really matter what the awards are called, whether they are Bronze-Silver-Gold or One star to 5 stars or even Apple-Orange and Pears, the crucial thing is that the various judging panels are all applying the same criteria and rules. The "explanations" of what the various star levels mean, given on this site and in the BIAFF programme, are much too vague. It`s clear to all of us, that there are big differences between a one star and 5 stars movie, but in the area of 2 stars to 4 stars it is all muddled and confusing in what is their precise meaning.
The explanations seem to be saying that two stars are quite good, three are good and four very good. This is confusing and very much left to the interpretaion of the various judges.
During the Saturday mini cinema shows, it was so obvious where the system is failing, when films with the same awards were shown together. One 3 star film which I will not name, was so clearly a basic "home movie" that in my view, it deserved some token award of 1 star. It was a family- type film with basic editing and a voice over showing that the makers had tried to move on from shooting a film and showing it unedited. But 3 stars was unbelievable. Surrounding it were 3 and 4 star films of vastly superior quality and this comparison was so clear in the programme as to be embarassing.
In another show, a well made short nature film/ documentary, was awarded 2 stars. Even the person who gave out the certificate stated that "Surely this film deserved more than 2 stars!" and the audience applause seemed to agree. In another show, a holiday film masquerading as a serious travelogue, nowhere near the high standards of MG or JA was given 4 stars! The inconsistancy was seriously depressing.
There will always be different points of view in judging and this cannot be avoided, but it`s crucial that all the various judges should know what each award means as it seems that at present, different panels are marking films in different ways.
I also strongly agree with some comments made on this forum that it is now time to judge fiction films seperately from documentaries. Fiction is so much harder to get right and yet a very basic holiday film with titles at the beginning and end can easily get a 4 star award. To achieve this in fiction, requires many more skills and disciplines. This seems indefensible.
I would also propose that the judges are divided up into panels for fiction films and panels for non-fiction. Judges should preferably have some skills, knowledge or experience, in their allocated section, to be qualified to give opinions and marks.
So it doesn`t really matter what we call the awards, lets just find a way to balance the system to make it fair, which it isn`t at present.
Ken Wilson
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by billyfromConsett »

I think on the one hand, there will always be movies that get exceptional awards, for one reason or another. It's been touched on that regular year-after-year film makers might suffer from negatives, blamed on their continual appearances. It's said, but not IMO proven beyond doubt if that happens. I would think that if established movie-makers put forward movies anonymsly (though I know that's not always practical to conceal one's idenity) or they just try making different stuff (though why should they if some newbie grabs the high awards for being only as-good) would that help solve any controversy?
Ken Wilson wrote:...a very basic holiday film with titles at the beginning and end can easily get a 4 star award. To achieve this in fiction, requires many more skills and disciplines. This seems indefensible...
Ken Wilson
Sounds a little strong about the basic holiday films easily getting 4 stars! I know that there are judges in all the competetions that don't regard fiction with a great degree of holy grail worship. That's life. You spend weeks working on the sound, and it doesn't get a mention - I'm not referring to any particular competition.
Camerawork and sound mix - especially the voices of more than 1 actor - need more people looking after them in dramas, as the framing of the scenes and focus on the actors need so much attention during the shoot. So it can rightly be regarded as tougher to get right, and just harder to do.
If it's felt that imortant things are going badly wrong, then I feel that the issue should be properly reported, to the people directly involved, rather than aireing the subject on an open window to the world. It's just my own opinion. I've mentioned things to council before, even directly to our chairman about something bugging me, and I know 100% that it was discussed by council.

I know from helping a tiny bit that Biaff is worked on with plenty of time to get right. I don't think that it's perfect. But those who help, don't do it for massive expense claims, plasma TV's etc etc.

I couldn't go to Biaff this year, and went for the Saturday only last year. But if anybody asks why I projected their incorrectly labelled movie to what was on the label, I'll gently put their incorrectly labelled disk where the sun don't shine :mrgreen:
Last edited by billyfromConsett on Tue May 12, 2009 11:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The IAC Star Ratings

Post by ned c »

I must agree that the terminology of the present system of awards is not very satisfactory. It is obviously based on the theory that everyone has to have some sort of award whereas it would be better to recognise those entries that are truly deserving and for the rest of us the judge's notes will provide the information and encourgement we need. First, Second and Third in each major genre; narrative, documentary, travel, music, experimental with certificates of commendation (or whatever) for the near misses. The fact that BIAFF sends the judge's notes to entrants is a big plus and of greater value than a certificate.

Judging is the all time lose/lose situation as the majority of films judged will not be in the top tier and their makers not very happy with that result. To wish for consistency in judging across fifteen judges is a no hoper; some judges will surely see "home movies" as the true heart of the "amateur" movement and everything else as pale imitations of what TV and films do much better.

I don't think we should take judging too seriously; it is completely subjective and essentially a bit of fun and an opportunity to have some of our films reach an audience.

ned c
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