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Photo of the hotel from the other bank of the river.BIAFF 2010

The British International Amateur Film Festival
16-18th April at The Park Inn Hotel, Bedford

It could all have gone horribly wrong!

The weather was stunningly good so the temptations of the open air were great. But the choice of films chosen by Competition Manager, David Newman, proved stronger. Plenty of interesting 2, 3 and 4-star films mixed in with the 5-stars, Diamonds and special award winners. Five mini-cinemas meant plenty of choice. North Thames Region of the IAC arranged for projection teams from around the area. Pictures seemed brighter and crisper than ever before and there were several sophisticated sound systems in use. Different aspect ratios caused occasional problems but the films were so good most of us overlooked that.

Almost all flights over Europe were banned because of risks from an Icelandic volcano outblast. Overseas visitors might have been unable to reach us ... so far as we know only one person, Michal Stenzel (whose film Between was a Diamond and Story Awards winner) could not get to us. Others were able to use rail and ferry connections. At the time of writing we are still not sure when the Guernsey group will get home, but they have no shortage of friends eager to put them up on the mainland if necessary.

Portrait of Jan Watterson.
Jan Watterson
Portrait of Phil Martin and Bob Lorrimer.
Phil Martin & Bob Lorrimer
Portrait of John Blight.
John Blight
Portrait of Jean-Pierre Hue.
Jean-Pierre Hué
Portrait of Guido Haesen.
Guido Haesen

In this 8-storey hotel only one small lift was working. Friendly patience, understanding ... and occasional acceptance that this was the weekend to follow doctor's orders about getting more exercise ... meant that was no barrier to having a good time.

No doubt there were scores of minor issues behind-the-scenes, but they were hidden from the rest of us by the efficient North Thames Region team headed by Brenda Granshaw.

Hotel dinners can be less than exciting ... but this one was great. One long-time visitor to festivals reckoned the gala meal the best he had had at such events. After a short, amusing and relevant grace from John Howden, the speeches had a high standard to match. They did. Dr. Norman Speirs proposed the toast to the IAC. There were no Fellowship presentations. IAC President, Reg Lancaster, explained that complications after an operation prevented the sole candidate from travelling far, but that he had had the pleasure of presenting her FACI distinction at an event in Alva, Scotland, not far from her home. The new Fellow is Pat Menmuir - a fine film maker, hard-working chairman of the Scottish Association of Moviemakers, enthusiastic lecturer and supervisor of subtitle translations for the UK entries going to UNICA. The UNICA Gold Medal for outstanding services to film making went to Jan Watterson, IAC webmaster, popular competition judge and UK's jury member at UNICA later in 2010.

Portrait of John Taff.
John Taff

Portrait of the 'Deception' team.
Jamie Hemingway, Adam Beveridge & Sam Brown

Deception team with award.
Deception team

People mixed, mingled, chatted, arranged co-production projects, argued over film ratings and seemed to laugh a lot in the bar and restaurant areas.

The Sunday Gala Show almost got too hot but a technician on the roof got the air-conditioning working quickly. An audience of around 250 people enjoyed a variety of film styles and lengths. When, right at the end, the golden envelope was opened to reveal which film had won the Daily Mail Trophy ... the film maker was on hand and seemed completely flabbergasted by his success. John Blight is better known for humour in film and music, but Vicious Culture was a hard-hitting drama revealing the seamy side of life and stunning the audience with its technical, dramatic and social achievements.

A very successful festival.

- Dave Watterson

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Page updated on 24 April 2011
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