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Posted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 9:28 pm
by Howard-Smith
It was another hugely enjoyable BIAFF in a lovely hotel with great food and service. Part of the pleasure of BIAFF is of course socialising with friends old and new, conversing with people who are as passionate and enthusiastic about the amateur film scene as oneself. There were several great films including Exploding Hearts, The Nest, Archway 0173, Meditations of a Lighthouse, The Holy Spirit and Well Done. The western Vermijo was an incredible achievement for an "amateur" production. A few of the Sunday films I thought were overrated and worth just 4 stars rather than 5 stars or a Diamond but overall the standard was high. Congratulations again to all the top award winners.


Posted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 10:57 pm
by TimStannard
Whilst it's not in my nature to agree 100% with anyone, for once I find myself agreeing 100%!


Posted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 5:28 pm
by Michael Slowe
Gosh, only two posts so far, better get in early before the deluge (?)

I agree with most of Howard's favourites but he hasn't mentioned the winner - 'I Am'. I wrote on my programme, Winner, just as the image was fading from the screen on Sunday morning! The additional awards of Best Acting and Best Photography were particularly well earned I thought. Very tricky to maintain that low key image consistently throughout, brilliant work. Howard also mentions Well Done, the Italian film about the autistic (?) boy visiting the art gallery. I also thought it lovely and the sympathetic but firm curator was brilliantly acted.

Good to see all you people, there is never enough time to chat and this year even more difficult with the screens being so scattered. The results of the survey will be interesting, will they be released for general view I wonder?


Posted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 6:50 pm
by Brian Saberton
My list of favourites more or less matches Howards and I also very much enjoyed Fridgemania, Once Upon a Dream and The Interview. Vermijo is a wonderful achievement and I thought that the photography in this film was particularly good, both in the exterior and interior sequences. The whole event was very well organised and thoroughly enjoyable and it was great to be able to catch up with everyone and also to chat with some of the winners.


Posted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:54 pm
by fraught
Evening all... gutted i couldn't make it on the Sunday. Was so looking forward to catching up with you all for a natter about the films on show.

I also agree with Howard... and i was a final round judge! ;-) Some films came to the final round as Unanimous 5 Stars, so we had no way of disagreeing with the star rating. But that's the beauty of this art, it's so subjective! Although i disagreed with some of the 5 Stars, from what I saw that weekend, all the Diamond films were all well deserved! I had a great time as a final round judge, such a worthwhile experience. The standard was indeed very high!!


Posted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:15 pm
by TimStannard
I probably spend far too much time thinking about this, but here we go...

OK, I'm going to stick my neck out here and ask what was so great about "I Am"?
I'll be the first to admit I'm not the most cultured or intelligent of people on this forum. I also have a problem whereby as soon as anyone says "it's poetry" I have some sort of mental block about understanding it.

Having said that, I'm not totally incapable of enjoying art for art's sake even if I don't fully understand it. I really enjoyed "13:01" and particularly enjoy progressive rock of the early 1970s - possibly the most pretentious art form yet to appear on the planet. I'm also not totally insensitive and find myself welling up at the corniest of films at times.

But "I Am" ...?
Rather than put someone who "gets it" on the spot and ask for explanation, here's my take and you can point out where I'm wrong or what I've missed.

A girl is feeling sorry for herself as she is struggling to write what we are later revealed to be scripts for a production company/agency/whatever - it was unclear to me.
She does such a bad job she's sacked and feels even more sorry for herself.
Her mirror gives her a hug.

That's the "plot"

What have I missed? Is her mirror a real entity? Is it here inner self talking to her? Some people might find this pretentious, I have no problem with either. Indeed I rather like the idea of a very personal inanimate object "falling in love" with the protagonist. It shows imagination. Not great imagination, but imagination nonetheless. But ... 23 minutes? TWENTY THREE MINUTES to tell us this? Seriously?

Perhaps it's not about the plot, it's about the character. She's full of self doubt. She goes through a period of self doubt and ends up in self doubt. I'm struggling to see any character development here.

So far as I can see we have no story arc, no conflict, no resolution and no character development.

Nothing happens in the story. Nothing changes in the character.

As I say - what have I missed?

Technically - yes it was very well shot and graded. Can't fault it. Michael says "very tricky to maintain that low key image" and I'll bow to his vastly superior knowledge of camerawork, but given that the whole thing was shot in the same environment, I would have thought keeping the same look throughout would be a piece of cake for any lighting cameraman worth his salt.

Sound was good but hardly challenging (music/ambience worked very well)

Acting? 50 shades of being miserable. Good but hardly stunning. If you want realism, I'd have thought the lady in "Shed" deserved that (the acting and dialog was so frighteningly real in this film it felt like fly on the wall reality TV). For variety and timing, the female lead in Exploding Hearts is a winner in my book - the male leads in both were not far off, either.

How come the mirror produces far more glass than it had in it and then had half left in the frame? Is this some key significant point that I missed?

Several times it felt like a natural end to the film. On one occasion I was left wondering if the equipment had broken down (and I don't think I was alone, given the amount of shuffling among the audience)

I know I am not alone in my questioning of the overall winner. I'm in the fortunate position of being able to ask these questions as, unlike some others on this forum who have already declared their disappointment in their own results, I would have awarded my own entry the same as the judges awarded it, so I have no axe to grind.

I hope I'm wrong, after all I'm an amateur and new to this game but I am keen to learn. Someone please explain to me what was so good about this film.

I've just read the above back. It sounds like I'm laying into the film. This is really not my intention. I recognise that much is good about the film but I am querying what is SO good that the judges (all of whom I respect) ranked it above other films in the festival which in my mind (and those of some others I've talked to) were superior.



Posted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 10:05 pm
by fraught
Don't hold back Tim! ;-)

I LOVED 'I Am'. I loved everything that you have questioned about it. The story of a mirror which has fallen for the woman that stares into it every day. The sadness that is reflected in her life is also reflected in the mirror itself... it so wants to be with her. The lead's acting was spot on, so well done for someone who spends the entire film pretty much on their own.
I just found it beautiful to watch, elegant in it's timing and pacing, but at the end of the day it made me feel emotional for a mirror!?!? Haha! WOW!

I can honestly say, I didn't see a film superior to this one. I saw lots of films that had glimmers of comparison with regards to quality, but in my honest opinion, this was the best film of the competition with 'No Hidden Extras' as a close second. That's not to say I didn't see any great films, I saw plenty, but these two stood out for me... a lot!

I think next year, the films/people that get nominated for an award should be noted and announced too. Because even if you don't get the award, to be nominated is a great feeling too. My favourite actors of the festival were the same as yours Tim, (I especially liked the Museum Guard in 'Well Done', as well as the lead actress in 'No Hidden Extras') but Lee Ji Eun just nipped it in the bud for the panel.

I wish I was there on Sunday to have had this convo in person! Makes me sad I missed the event! LOL


Posted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 7:15 am
by TimStannard
I guess that, no matter what the technical standard of a film, we are judging art and we are bound to be influenced by (indeed should be influenced by) how we are moved by it. We can even be moved by films when we don't fully understand them. Clearly you Geoff, and the other judges, were moved in a way I wasn't in this case.


Posted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 7:46 am
by fraught
Sometimes that is the case, as it was here. Sometimes, the film that wins takes everyone's heart. We're not all built the same fortunately. :-) If we were... then we'd all love Star Wars obviously. ;-)


Posted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:04 pm
by Bob Lorrimer
The technical standard of the films has definitely risen to a higher level. The result of this improvement is to expose 'storylines' within Drama films, and 'familiarity' in some of the Documentaries.

The Projector struggled in the 85% darkened room and lost the essential vibrancy of the black out....otherwise the team handled it all perfectly, from my point of view, which was in the ballroom.
More powerful projectors need to be hired to do justice to the film makers.

The S.Korean "I AM" needed to be among the Winners....but, like Tim, I also found it difficult to accept the premise of the 'Mirror' as a sentient being. I imagine it was a metaphor for depression.....but a cuddly metaphor? Not for me!

The one hour Western 'Vermijo' was a fantastic achievement....I mean really fantastic! The title sequence was worth Five stars on it's own......thereafter it came down to earth with a bit of a bump in a slightly lumpy 'abuse' scene following the titles. Fortunately most of the cast were very good and some of the dialogue made me laugh, in a good way. The fight sequences were great, if far too many, feature length does not mean a film has to be long!
It has to be 'fresh' otherwise it is simply 'derivative.' However....I agree that It was a DIAMOND all the way.

Liam Sanderson's School 'coming of age' project 'EXPLODING HEARTS' was 'superb' for me...I absolutely loved the comic timing the Music and great asides from all the young cast. It is immensely difficult to write that kind of contemporary dialogue and maintain the momentum for an age bracket which most of us have all but forgotten. I thought it was technically tremendous and a derivative way!

I want to mention Howard Smith's 'Whitehall Farce' the 'four star' film 'GOOSE SAUCE' for it's stupendously edited's very seldom in the amateur world to see that pace of cut which bought about the final collective and cathartic moment.

John Robert's film MEDITATIONS of a LIGHTHOUSE is a One Minute densely packed digitally animated film which you can watch over and over.

One minute films need impact both power and light....unfortunately (as for all the films in the Ballroom) light bleed from the windows leeched out the colours.

Nature films too were ill served by this age-old dilemma.....I don't want the Projection team to think I am being 'picky' but it is "where the buck stops!"

FRIDGEMANIA had a very polished feel to it with great character acting at pro's weakness (if it can be called a weakness) is that we all knew at the beginning that the apartment was going to end up stuffed full of fridges!

Not having a film this year I find that it is much easier to criticise (!) so really: WELL DONE to you ALL.



Posted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 4:17 pm
by Ken Wilson
BIAFF was particulary good this year. It was great to see and meet everyone again though sad for those who have gone and some who get more frail every year as we all get older. But on the very positive side, we saw amongst the (I think) 45 movies, some really great ones, some odd ones and some which baffled me as to what they were saying and why they were rated as highly as they were. But this always happens.

I still seriously question a judging system where almost no-one (except perhaps David Newman) has seen ALL the films entered. It therefore begs the question of how you can have a Best Film, Best Editing, or a Best anything when only a small panel of judges have seen a random section of the films?
Certainly as Michael has said, amongst others, that it largely depends on where your film sits within a judging session (early in the day when the judge is fresh or late when he/ she is tired) which films you are screened amongst and which panel of three you are allocated.

But on the films this year, I very much agree with Tim (nice to meet and speak with you at last Tim) who saw nothing in the winner "I am." No it did nothing for me at all either and was simply long, slow and gloomy. The subtitles seemed to be literal translations of the Korean language and in English made no sense. So I have to totally agree with Tim.

I liked many of the Sunday movies this year, not always the case. "Exploding Hearts" was first rate though my only quibble was the age of the lead actress who looked more like a young teacher than a student. But she was certainly a contender for the acting award and I suspect that`s why they perhaps overlooked the issue of her age. But a top class film nevertheless. "The Interview" was a great little comedy idea and very well acted and "Archway 0173" a nice little time-travel idea using an old telephone as a link to the past. very good.

But for me, without any doubt, the best film was the western "Vermijo" which was superb! It didn`t at all seem like an amateur film and as a viewer I made no concessions to it being a non professional movie, the first time I have thought this at any show anywhere! I was sure it was going to be really bad but it gripped me from the start. I spoke to the maker at the interval, Paul Vernon to honestly tell him that this was the best amateur film I have ever seen and at the end of the Sunday show I hadn`t changed my mind.
My wife Carol had never ever seen a western before despite my encouragement that she should do so and she too was gripped by the film. That the film didn`t get any special awards for either photography, editing, sound or acting was in my book a shock and a seriously flawed judgement. But there you are, we all have a different view.

There are entertaining films and art films and we often differ in opinions which ones we enjoy the most. I like to be entertained.

But almost everything went well technically, the hotel was pretty good though Sunday lunch (the only meal we had there) was quite basic though functional and as always the sun shone and we had blue skies! Overall a big success so well done to all concerned. It was great to chat about movies with fellow enthusiasts and a shame we can only do this once a year.


Posted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 5:57 pm
by Dave Watterson
Ashleigh Weir, the female lead in "Exploding Hearts" was at Wales High School until the end of the 2015 school year. So she was not significantly older than the character she played. In fact Connor Young who played the male lead is a couple of years older!

Rather than get into detailed debate about winners, let me just repeat my annual comment that foreign films often feature in the 5-star and Diamond categories because no one from another country would pay money to enter our competition unless they knew their film was already successful at home. Thus those films tend to be of a very high quality. I think that is why they often get awards rather than that judges are impressed by subtitles and foreignness.

The IAC Competition serves two purposes:

1) a grading exercise to help film makers of all abilities to see what level independent judges think their work has reached. On the basis that it is easier to look at other people's films with the same ranking to understand the level.

2) The best rank, defined as 5-stars, go forward to the final jury for what I think of as the "real competition" from which the various award-winners are chosen. Thus the final jury do see pretty much all the films that have a chance. Almost all large festivals operate some form of pre-selection because otherwise it becomes impractical.


Posted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 6:20 pm
by Brian Saberton
I thoroughly enjoyed the whole weekend and the chance to catch up with film-making friends old and new. Of the Diamond awards my favourite was "Vermijo" closely followed by "Exploding Hearts", "Fridgemania" and "Well Done". Of the 5 star films shown on Sunday, "The Interview", "Archway 0173" "13:01" and "The interview" stood out for me. As to "I am" I thought it was an intriguing idea as a story with a clever ending (I'm assuming that the mirror smashed itself to the floor to wake the girl up). I enjoyed it and thought it deserved the Diamond rating but personally I think I'd have gone for "Vermijo" or "Exploding Hearts" for the best film. I was puzzled about "No Hidden Extras" as it seemed to fizzle out at the end with no real resolution to the story but perhaps that was intentional and I'm missing the point? In terms of acting I thought that the female leads in "Shed" and "Exploding Hearts" were exceptional.

On a personal note my own film "Spin", a documentary, was criticised by one of the judges for containing some Audio Visual style stills. These were only a small portion of the film, similar in style to material seen in professional documentaries, and in my opinion were creatively legitimate and necessary to tell what was, in the main, a historical story. I wouldn't have minded so much if I hadn't seen two Audio Visual sequences in the Saturday and Sunday programmes achieving a higher rating!


Posted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 6:44 pm
by tom hardwick
Damn, missed BIAFF. Think l must be one of the ageing frail, Ken. Shot an all day wedding on the Saturday, 13 solid hours, and couldn't get my body to drive me to Market Harbough on Sunday morn.

Still, good to read through this thread and even gooder that I was chosen to be part of the magnificent judging team.


Posted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 9:47 pm
by Howard-Smith
I'm sorry but I have to confess that I AM didn't do much for me but I appreciated its technical qualities. I may change my mind when I get round to watching it for a second time, perhaps seeing things I missed on first viewing.

The suggestion has been made that the nominations for the special categories, in addition to the winners, should be announced at the festival (as at the Oscars). I think that's a jolly good idea. My farce Goose Sauce was nominated for best editing and best comedy, as mentioned in the first round judges' comments, but these nominations really counted for nothing as they were not publicised, not brought to anyone's attention in any way.

To Bob Lorrimer. Thank you so much for your comments on Goose Sauce. From a genuine master filmmaker such as yourself your comments are praise indeed.

Staying on the same film, let's get this off my chest once and for all: I was very disappointed with 4 stars. Most people have said it's the best film I've ever made, and, prior to the BIAFF results, I was told many times that it was a dead-cert, a shoo-in, for a 5-star award. The world-famous farceur Ray Cooney watched it on Vimeo and emailed me to say, "I loved this film... you and your writer did a great job." At BIAFF many people approached me after its showing on the Saturday to say how much they'd enjoyed it and how surprised they were at the 4 star award. Today, a prominent IAC member, who has been a BIAFF judge, but who I shan't name, emailed me with the following comment: "Watched Goose Sauce this afternoon. Absolutely wonderful and hilarious. Great script, good actors, really slick editing on this one. I must congratulate you... Smashing film, did deserve 5 stars..."
There. I've got it off my chest and I'll try not to mention Goose Sauce again. Ever!

I aim to enter around 5 new films for BIAFF 2018. To avoid being disappointed again, my expectation will be for every one of them to get 3 stars, so that if any of them are awarded more than that, it will be a bonus and a pleasant surprise!