BIAFF 2021 - should we even hope?

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Dave Watterson
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BIAFF 2021 - should we even hope?

Post by Dave Watterson »

Officially BIAFF 2021 is scheduled for Birmingham on 16-18th April 2021 - with an online version as the standby option.

Given the state of things now (at the end of 2020) does anyone think it likely we will meet in person then?

If not would it be better to postpone - as we did last year - in the hope that the Covid situation will improve and restrictions on meeting and travelling will have gone? Or do we have to plan for another online festival?

It worked surprisingly well, and congratulations to all the people who worked hard to make sure that was so. But should an online version attempt to ape the format of the live event so closely?

Hope would be nice, but we have all seen our hopes dashed in 2020 ...
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Howard-Smith
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Re: BIAFF 2021 - should we even hope?

Post by Howard-Smith »

If it turns out not to be possible to go ahead in Birmingham on the scheduled dates, I personally would opt for postponing BIAFF 2021 until it can take place as a live event later in the year. My prediction is that mass vaccination will return life to something approaching normality sometime within the next few months. (In this morning’s news: “ Life to return to normal by Spring with Oxford jab approval, Matt Hancock says.”) Online Zooming has helped to keep festivals going during the pandemic but in my book it’s always second best. For me, a hugely important aspect of live film festivals is the social interaction with other filmmakers and the kind of atmosphere and excitement that’s not possible online.
Michael Slowe
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Re: BIAFF 2021 - should we even hope?

Post by Michael Slowe »

I too would support the motion to postpone in the expectation of a much better climate by the middle of next year. As Howard suggests, the vaccine will make a huge difference. Things are so fluid right now but should settle down in the Spring. Let's postpone and wait and see, that's my vote anyway.
Ken Wilson
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Re: BIAFF 2021 - should we even hope?

Post by Ken Wilson »

For what it`s worth, I would go along with everyone here.
So far, my only experience of Zoom (etc) has been taking the dogs to the vet and having a remote consultation from the car park to the surgery. This has not been totally successful with poor connections.
It doesn`t always remain glitch free for the TV companies either, who have been forced to use it this year on many shows. Pictures freeze, the sound goes out of sync and so on.
I have bought a camera to do zoom, but would by far prefer seeing the films on a proper screen and all the other trappings of a real festival with people we know in attendance.

It seems very likely that 2021 will see things get better as the months pass by and more people get the vaccine, so a postponement to later in the year would seem to be a better idea.
ned c
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Re: BIAFF 2021 - should we even hope?

Post by ned c »

I would like to attend at least one more BIAFF (I have only attended two) before I fall off my perch. So a delay to the Autumn and a live festival would be appreciated. We are unlikely to be vaccinated before late February at the earliest and for the vaccination program to be effective it will need some months to see how well it is working.

ned c
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TimStannard
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Re: BIAFF 2021 - should we even hope?

Post by TimStannard »

Whilst I'm sure this isn't a democracy and we here are but a few select members anyway, I too would be in favour of postponing the British International (including the EU) Film Festival until we can have a live event.

I've enjoyed several online meetings/festivals and I hope and suspect this method will continue and improve long after the epidemic has passed, but, for me this is an addition to, not a substitute for, meetings in person.
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Willy
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Re: BIAFF 2021 - should we even hope?

Post by Willy »

I think it would be better to postpone in the hope that the Covid-situation will improve and restrictions on meeting and travelling would have gone. I also share Tim's opinion. I am not against an online festival - it seemed that it was a perfect one in October - but, me too, I prefer a "real" BIAFF.

I have already told you that I don't like Zoom. I tried to "attend" the online BIAFF in October. One participant could see me for a few seconds he said. That's possible. I suddenly realized that my studio was a mess (books and other things everywhere) and I switched my computer off. Next time I will be more attentive.

Actually my two friends Werner and Werner looked forward to attending the festival at Birmingham in April. Werner Haegeman attended it in 2019 and he was very enthusiastic. He also won a diamond ("The Swimming-Pool"). Now he has made two films. I have translated one of his movies. Also Werner Vandenbulck, another diamond-winner, would like to attend the live-festival at Birmingham, but he has changed his mind because the pandemic misery in the UK is getting worse now. The two Werners have not entered their movies (yet) because they fear that BIAFF in April will be replaced by an online event. Even in October. They are against Zoom-festivals in Belgium and everywhere else. They both told me that they hope that everything will be normal by April 2022. These two guys are still young. I can understand them. They are in their fifties and early sixties. I am an old goat. I myself hope to see you in October or on zoom in April. I am sure that my wife Vera will forbid me to go to Birmingham in April. I think she still loves me... in spite of my bad behaviour.

At the moment the corona-situation in Belgium is getting better, but virologists fear that our country will be "attacked" by the horrible British mutating variant. However, it is already "travelling" in some parts of Europe other scientists say. But all Belgian tourists who have spent their Christmas holidays abroad are obliged to fill in special forms and to prove that they are negative. The controls at our border crossing points, our international railway stations and airports are very severe. It's even possible that these tourists will have to stay in quarantine for some time. Actually they were not respectful. Our PM and Health Secretary had asked them to stay at home. The virus in Europe was brought into our country by skiers who had spent their holidays in Italy and Austria in February or March last year.
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Ken Wilson
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Re: BIAFF 2021 - should we even hope?

Post by Ken Wilson »

As it appears now that BIAFF this year will once more be online, I messaged David Newman to ask that my 2020 film be withdrawn this year with the intention of entering it in 2022 (all being well). As a comedy, it does need an audience and will not play well online, even assuming that it works at all, which you can never be sure of anyway. The actors have not even seen it themselves as of course we have been unable to hold any kind of small premiere show. So all in all, it seemed a safer bet to hold it back. I wonder how many entries there will be for 2021? I would guess that production generally has been well down with everyone, apart from Howard of course!
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TimStannard
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Re: BIAFF 2021 - should we even hope?

Post by TimStannard »

That had never occurred to me Ken - how interesting. My initial thought was that while it makes a difference in how the film plays in an auditorium, it wouldn't make any diffenece to the judging, but that's not entirely true. Even sitting in a hotel room with just three other people (two other judges and a projectionist) makes it a shared experience, which can have a massive effect on a comedy. Moreso than any other type of film? I'm inclined to think so.

I'm sure there are others here who will know the answer to this: would you edit a comedy differently if you know it is going to play mostly to one or two people at a time than in a 200 seat auditorium?
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Howard-Smith
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Re: BIAFF 2021 - should we even hope?

Post by Howard-Smith »

It’s so very disappointing not to be able to have BIAFF as a live event for the second year running. Since 2008, the BIAFF weekend has been the most important event on my calendar. Let’s hope that this will be the last time it will have to be on Zoom.
One IAC member has told me he’s heard that the number of entries this year Is down by around 50% which is sad but inevitable. Well, as Ken says, I’ve done my bit to keep the show on the road.
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Re: BIAFF 2021 - should we even hope?

Post by Michael Slowe »

Howard, I've got two in to keep you company, although they won't challenge you for honours I'm sure, I'm getting past it I'm afraid.
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TimStannard
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Re: BIAFF 2021 - should we even hope?

Post by TimStannard »

I don't think it matters if entries are down. There are some very good reasons - quite apart from the difficulty in getting groups of people together to make films, I'm sure Ken is not the only person holding back films because they have been developed for and benefit from a live audience

What matters is that the festival is being held and that there are enough entries to make the festival worthwhile. Is a "win" worth less this year because of fewer entries? Absolutely not! (in my opinion). The criteria for the star ratings will remain the same as previous years and I very strongly suspect the final round judges will have as difficult a job deciding which of the 5 star awards deserve Diamonds as they always do.

(I have one in which won't keep either of you company, but someone has to be an also ran and I have high hopes it'll be shown and raise a smirk as it's a film made for fun - and that's why we do it, sometimes, yeah?)
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Howard-Smith
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Re: BIAFF 2021 - should we even hope?

Post by Howard-Smith »

Yes it’s perfectly true what Tim says. The main thing is that we still have BIAFF 2021, something we can be thankful for.
Ken Wilson
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Re: BIAFF 2021 - should we even hope?

Post by Ken Wilson »

Just to follow on from my comments about withdrawing my comedy film from this year`s competition and Tim`s questions/ comments.
To return to what I said on the forum under the heading about the sad loss of Reg Lancaster. Reg was a judge ( I think a final round judge) at the IAC festival in the year we entered a comedy called "Dropping Off". This film seems to be the one of ours most people remember and it did well in many competitions. But Reg approached us on a walk by the river during a meal break and apologised that he had underrated our film and should have placed it higher. He said that comedies are notoriously hard to judge in a quiet hotel room with two other people on a Sunday morning and as he had now watched it again with a big audience (the room at the festival was full) and seen and heard the response it got, he said he thought it was much funnier than he first thought. Of course, the film was exactly the same.
We have also taken many of our films to festivals and club shows over very many years and it`s amazing and puzzling at the different reactions comedies receive. The film called "Someone For Everyone", the first of a trilogy about a couple meeting on a blind date, got very different reactions at different shows. Sometimes there was a few mild chuckles and at other shows many big laughs. This one also played well at that years IAC festival and Linda Gough came to speak to me to say how well it had gone down there.

One of our regular actors, Keith Pottage, has played on stage in many farces and has told me that the same play gets very different reactions on different nights. Sometimes barely a snigger at one show and on other nights there is almost a hysterical response. The play is the same and the actors the same. He said when he began making comedy films with us in 2000 that it felt odd to be playing to total silence as it was hard to pace the comedy and he was used to playing to the audience and feeding off it.
It is certainly a huge puzzle and something you can never tell what the reactions are going to be until it`s viewed several times with different audiences. We have made successful comedies and using the same writer/ director (me) the same actors and the same editor (also me) some films work well and others are greeted with total silence. And I don`t know why. So I am still of the view it was right to hold "Writer`s Block" back, even if ultimately it`s a failure even WITH an audience.
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Howard-Smith
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Re: BIAFF 2021 - should we even hope?

Post by Howard-Smith »

People’s sense of humour differs wildly. That’s why comedy is one of the most difficult genres in which to succeed, in my opinion.
The judges’ comments for my 4 star film BLOODY BRILLIANT gave no indication at all that the judges realised that it was a comedy. Not one mention that anyone thought anything about it was funny. However I was gratified that at the BIAFF showing of this film there was lots of laughter which appeared to be genuine.
My 4 star farce GOOSE SAUCE was sent up to the finals judges as a potential 5 star film but was sent back down to 4 stars. I do realise that not everyone finds farces amusing. One comment on this film that irritated me was that it “didn’t feel original” when in fact it was a totally original piece of writing by my friend Chris Davies. The famous farceur Ray Cooney (“Run For Your Wife” etc.) saw it on Vimeo and send me an email saying, “Thoroughly enjoyed watching your short movie. You and the writer did an excellent job. If the author has written anything else longer than those 10 minutes I’d be delighted to read it. Keep up the good work. All the best, Yours, Ray.”
I avoided making comedies for years, thinking that either there’d be no laughter which is potentially embarrassing, or polite laughter which may not be genuine!
Yes, comedy is seriously difficult.
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