FRIDAY, JAN. 27: A team of volunteers has been busy organizing this year’s international film festival, for the first time without the direction of its long-serving co-founder — but already there is good news.
One of the Bermuda International Film Festival’s confirmed entries — Bullhead — has been announced as an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Feature while BIFF’s Pina has been nominated for Best Documentary Feature.
Now in its 15th year, the festival is confirmed to take place from March 16 to 22.
The volunteers replace director and co-founder Aideen Ratteray-Pryse who announced last year that she wanted to make room for a younger team.
Ratteray-Pryse has still been instrumental in fundraising, but everything from programming to parties has been put together by the board.
Andrew Stoneham is the only paid member of staff in his role as part-time administrator and programming director.
Due to the tough economic times, there will be a few cut backs this year including only one theatre screening the films — Liberty Theatre on Union Square. There will be no competition documentaries or narratives this year in order to streamline the line-up.
The Bermuda Sun sat down with the board of trustees and management committee to talk through some of the highlights of this year’s BIFF.
The overall number of films is down from last year to 77 films in total — 27 features and 50 shorts though this could change. Overall entries for short films this year was up by 100 to around 400.
Because the available slots have been reduced, the festival has decided to focus on the most popular category from previous years — World Cinema.
PR and communications director Alison Hicks explained: “World Cinema draws the crowds because it’s made up of all the big hitters from the other festivals. Our guys have been picking out those films that have been doing really well critically so that’s what draws people in.”
There will be no separate category focussing on films from one particular country as there has been in previous years.
- World Cinema: Narratives and documentaries will be included in this caregory. It will be the focus of the festival with critically-acclaimed heavy-hitters from around the world including Le Havre (Finland); Declaration of War (France); Bullhead (Belgium); Pina (Germany); The Turin Horse (Hungary) and Once Upon A Time in Anatolia (Turkey). The category will be judged by the Audience Choice award that will be announced at the closing party.
- After Hours: Three late night slots starting at around 11.30pm. Provocative, controversial and uncompromising visions that take an innovative approach to the art of storytelling.
- BIFF Kids: Films that provide cultural enrichment for children and adults alike.
- Short Films: Short narrative, documentary, and animated films from emerging filmmakers all over the globe. This is the section for which the festival is a qualifying festival for the Academy Award. (It is to be judged by its jury and a new Audience Choice award is to be announced at the closing party).
- Special presentations: New works crafted by some of the most established directors working today. Details are being finalised.
- Opening and Closing films: Yet to be announced.
- There will be a Wrap Party similar to last year’s event featuring local musicians in an artistic environment.
- The festival is also planning to have a social hub in the function room above Liberty Theatre following the screenings so audience members can grab a drink, some food and discuss the films they have watched. Last year was similar but the hubs were spread out around the island.
Lauren Faris, management committee chair and treasurer, explained: “We found with moving the venue out each night there are a lot of people who would make the trek to the venue and then jump in the car and go home but if it is right there you would be more inclined to walk up a flight of stairs and go to socialise a bit.”
People will also get the chance to meet filmmakers and jury members.
- This Sunday there will be a screening of House of Pleasures at Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute at 7pm. The screening aims to give us a taster of the types of films that will be shown in the new After Hours category (formerly Midnight Madness). Programmes director Andrew Stoneham, who relaunched the category, explained: “Midnight Madness, I thought, was sometimes a bit over play — it was really gory horror and other times it was really sexual, explicit content but it seemed to change every year so we wanted to give it a bit more consistency.
“Now it’s showcasing provocative, unconventional films that do take a bit of a risk whether it be sexual or pushing the envelope when it comes to violent content. It’s more focused on art house rather than just thrillers and slashers and stuff like that.
The three selected movies in this category will start at around 11:30pm.”
Sponsorship and volunteers:
Sponsors – corporations or individual interested in supporting the festival this year can contact the Festival at email@example.com. Sponsors will have their logo on screen, in the brochure. In return you get tickets to the films and events. Volunteers are also welcomed to help out with the various events. See www.volunteer.bm for details.
Extras: The lunchtime chats with the jury members will remain a fixture and it is also hoped the festival will hold a workshop or series of workshops.