UNICA 2021

A forum for sharing views on the art of film, video and AV sequence making as well as on competitions, judging and festivals.
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Dave Watterson
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UNICA 2021

Post by Dave Watterson »

This is an open letter I have sent to IAC Council. I hope it is self-explanatory.

Tomorrow is ours to win or lose

“All our charitable objectives focus on promoting cinematography and the public’s appreciation of such arts.”
(IAC Memorandum of Association)

2020 is blighted by pandemic. Every country suffers huge social stress, economic meltdown and personal tragedies. Think ahead to 2021. After the virus rampage, we must pick up the pieces and pay the cost.

As far back as 2012 IAC planned to hold a UNICA in Britain for the first time since 1951. All was in place for this year, then COVID-19 killed it. Yes, those plans could be pushed forward to 2021. But, without consulting anyone else, the IAC Council decided no. In the climate of anxiety, did despair discourage Council from looking to a positive future?

In 1937 Britain was among UNICA’s founders. They were optimists. The organisation was a small step towards peace bringing film enthusiasts from different countries together. Now two years without a UNICA festival may bring about its dissolution.

It costs thousands to host a UNICA. Previously some countries could rely on government and business help to hold such an event. Not next year. Emergency national spending now will lead to austerity in 2021. Businesses of all sizes are struggling. So far as I know, the IAC is the only UNICA member that has a large capital reserve. Britain is probably the only country financially able to host a UNICA next year.
We are in a unique position to help the worldwide movement. The plans for 2020 can be moved to 2021 easily and with remarkably little additional cost. The original amount allocated in 2013 was £30,000. Prices have risen. I have not seen formal budgets for UNICA 2020, but have heard talk of £45,000 or £50,000. A new year allows room to curtail plans and reduce costs … but even if it were the highest sum, that is only 25% of IAC’s reserves. IAC has almost £200,000 in unallocated funds. That would leave £150,000. How big a cushion does the Institute need?

Perhaps the problem is people. When IAC started planning, they put a restriction on “outside involvement” in the process. Maybe that was short-sighted. It left the work to a handful of Council members. They did a lot – and I will always be grateful to them. COVID-19 destroyed their efforts this year. Opening the organising committee to other enthusiasts would allow fresh blood to share in the effort.
A British UNICA in 2021 is possible.

We have the money. We can get the people. So, I beg IAC Council to
• reconsider its decision,
• provide its funding and
• make it possible to celebrate UNICA 2021 in Birmingham.

Dave Watterson, FACI – President of UNICA
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Re: UNICA 2021

Post by TimStannard »

Thank you Dave,

I have emailed John Howden, requesting that Council issue a general response explaining the reasons they came to the decision not to fund UNICA 2021 so we can all understand them as well as the implications of funding the festival. On the face of it, it seems a no brainer, but at present I only have one side of the story and it seems only fair to hear the case for the defence!

I am, of couse, only one member and so I'd encourage others who are interested (and I appreciate there are many who don't give a flying fig) to do the same.
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it
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Re: UNICA 2021

Post by Howard-Smith »

Dave has presented an extremely persuasive case for UNICA 2021 to be held in Birmingham.
I am 100% in favour of this and I join in the plea for the IAC Council to reconsider their decision.
ned c
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Re: UNICA 2021

Post by ned c »

I read Dave Watterson's letter with a sad heart. Allowing for the world situation a commitment is needed to ensure the survival of UNICA as a world organization and although I am 5,000 miles away I sense that an effort must be made to help the movements supporting amateur film making in those countries where they still exist. Amateur film making has moved far from the original concept of the founders of organization like the IAC and if central organizations are to survive they must adapt to a new world. I see part of the role of UNICA is to strengthen and help rethink who they are serving and how to serve them. To me a sure sign of the direction this is all going is the separation of BIAFF from the IAC; a preparation for the demise of the IAC? The central organizations in three major amateur film making countries have disintegrated; Canada; Australia and the USA; all with strong UK connections.

This is about much more than the cancellation of UNICA 2020; it raises questions about what to do if there is to be a future; what does a young film maker with limited resources get for IAC membership?

This is time for serious debate.

Ned Cordery
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Dave Watterson
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Re: UNICA 2021

Post by Dave Watterson »

It was pointed out to me that the posts from here on were more about the future of the IAC than about UNICA 2021 ... so to avoid confusion I have split them into to threads.
This one will continue on the theme of UNICA2021
A new topic "Re-think the IAC" takes thoughts on that topic.

Nothing is lost!

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Re: UNICA 2021

Post by Willy »

I only ever attended three UNICA-Festivals: the one at Blankenberghe in Belgium, the one at Dortmund in Germany and the one at Zeist in the Netherlands, but only for a few days. Each time I enjoyed myself very much. The festivals gave me the opportunity to have a chat with IAC-friends and to see wonderful films. I also appreciated the judging-system. Actually it was unique. Judges from different countries appeared on the stage after the screenings of movies made by a country and they told the audience in different languages what they thought about the films. It was a pure WORLD MOVIE CONTEST. There were 27 countries at Dortmund! Amazing that each time a British contingent was present to support their filmmakers and Brian Dunckley was the one who made a funny film to introduce the British films.

UNICA at Dortmund was really spectacular. The opening at the Town Hall was very impressive. There were thousands and thousands of people to see the German Cup-Final Dortmund-Bayern München in the City, but there were also at least 300 film enthusiasts from all over the world to attend the opening ceremony of UNICA. There was a huge crowd. At the town Hall Dave Watterson was the big star. It was clear that he is a very popular president of UNICA. Everybody loves our sympathetic Scotsman in kilt. Also the venue of the competition was super: an old coalmine, called Zeche Zollern with 8 museums "European Route of Industrial Heritage". Everything was well organized, also thanks to the support of the City of Dortmund, a Bank, hotels, etc... UNICA at Zeist was an other fantastic event.

I can imagine that Dave Watterson must be very sad. His UNICA-Festival has been killed by the dreadful corona virus that has struck the whole wide world… and knowing that it would have taken place in his own country... that must be quite a blow! It's unbelievable! I have been a member of the IAC for exactly 20 years and I know that BIAFF always had international style thanks to Dave and friends who travelled all over Europe and even to other continents. I am sure that the IAC is grateful to him for what he has achieved. It's unreal to know that the corona virus pandemic may have caused the end of UNICA. We will all miss UNICA, unless...
Willy Van der Linden
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