(I recently wrote a piece on cancellation of BIFF for Screen Daily, which you can read at http://www.screendaily.com/news/bradford-international-film-festival-cancelled/5099938.article?blocktitle=Most-commented&contentID=-1
I had to cut it down for Screen but - with their permission - I have been allowed to publish the fuller, longer story as originally written on my blog. Time, or lack of, mean any mistakes below are mine and mine only)
Bradford International Film Festival cancelled
By Laurence Boyce
Move by National Media Museum signals concern over regional provision in the UK for arts and culture
As a furore brewed in the UK over the decision to move much of the National Media Museum’s photography collection to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London – in an act described as cultural vandalism by some political leaders – it was also quietly announced by museum director Jo Quinton-Tulloch that the Bradford International Film Festival would not be returning to city and museum situated in the North of England.
The festival, which began in 1995, had slowly carved itself a reputation as a well-regarded event on the national and international circuit. With a number of significant premieres during its history – include the widely publicised UK premiere of Chris Morris’ Four Lions in 2010 – the festival also welcomed numerous guests over its history including Kenneth Branagh, Brian Cox, Ken Loach, Richard Attenborough, John Hurt, Terry Gilliam, Mike Hodges, Alex Cox, Tom Courtenay, Derek Jacobi and Pawel Pawlikowski amongst many others.
The Festival was also seen as a key component in helping Bradford being named the very first UNESCO City of Film.
Reaction to the news that the museum would not be holding the festival was swift and vociferous with local councillors and industry representatives sharing their dismay in local press.
The last edition of the Bradford International Film Festival was held in 2014 and then put on a hiatus pending a review. Screen Daily asked Neil Young – who worked for the festival from 2005 and was the co-director of the event during its last three editions – about how he heard the review was taking place.
“I was told about the review in July 2014 after hearing that various media outlets including the BBC were (prematurely) reporting the "cancellation" of BIFF. I contacted my BIFF colleagues in some alarm and was assured that this wasn't the case, and that a review was under way - one which would involve various interested parties including myself. In January 2015 I emailed Jo Quinton-Tulloch to see how this review was progressing, and was told that the Museum "hoped" to host the festival in some form later that year. After that, nada.”
Screen also asked Museum director Jo-Quinton Tulloch about how the review took place and the underlying reasons for cancelling the festival. She told us:
“The review was an internal process which has been shared with Museum advisors. It established a rationale for looking at previous Festival activity and how we should engage in future events. The review concluded that Museum Film Festivals should link to our core remit and strengths, as well as showcase and celebrate past and future cinema technologies. Festivals should make strong connections with our unique collections and the new focus on the science and culture of light and sound technologies, and they should also be based on a viable financial model.
Our new focus is based in STEM (science, engineering, maths & technology) and the new mission will concentrate on inspiring future generations of scientists and engineers in the fields of light and sound, as well as demonstrating the cultural impact of these subjects.”
Screen also asked Quinton-Tulloch as to whether this meant that the Bradford International Film Festival had been a sustainable event. We were told
“BIFF’s viability relied on a combination of things, including both internal resources and external funding streams. Due to significant reductions in grant-in-aid funding (the Science Museum Group’s has been reduced by almost 30 per cent in real terms since 2010), we have had to reduce operating costs - including reducing staffing in several departments. This has inevitably had a knock-on effect to certain areas of the Museum’s public programme.”
Much of the dismay surrounding the cancellation of the festival is related to what some see as an ever dwindling commitment to film from the NMM. Two other festivals (Bite The Mango, focusing on Asian cinema, and the Bradford Animation Festival) stopped running as events in 2010 and 2014 respectively and the majority of the Museum’s cinema activities have been outsourced to Picturehouses (a museum spokesman told us that “In terms of our regular cinema operation - the Museum partners with Picturehouses. Programming, technical, marketing and front of house services are delivered by Picturehouses with a significant contribution from most Museum departments.”)
When asked whether this did indeed mean that the Museum was no longer committed to film, Quinton-Tulloch told Screen
“Film remains a very important part of our future plans, but our festival programme needed changes to make it sustainable and aligned with the new focus. We will continue to run a film festival of international scope – an extended Widescreen Weekend (supported by BFI) which welcomes guest speakers and cinemagoers from around the world.
We are also a partner with Cine North - the rural touring cinema scheme, home to a BFI Mediatheque facility and we host film events in partnership with various local and national organisations. Our recent £800,000 investment to digitally upgrade our IMAX cinema demonstrates both our commitment to film and the unique package of film provision offered at the Museum.”
News has also emerged that the National Media Museum – which opened in 1983 as The National Museum of Film, Photography and Television - was once again thinking of changing its name (with The Guardian revealing that the Science Museum North is currently being considered as one of the possibilities). There has led to some concern that the cancellation of the festival is a symptom of a perceived cultural and institutional disregard in the UK for anything that occurs outside of London.
David Nicholas Wilkinson is a film distributor with Guerilla Films and film director who was as a patron of the festival helping them to secure guests and films. He told Screen:
“Just when the North is becoming a powerhouse the timing is appalling. The North will continue to grow economically and the next 20 years I foresee as a boom time so the message it sends out is somewhat depressing for Bradford as an important centre for trade and industry. It also shows once again that the British film industry is really the London Film Industry.”
When asked whether she believes that the announcement will add fuel to the fire to supposed negative perceptions of the regions, she told Screen
“We are very confident our regional offer remains strong, and that the National Media Museum is firmly part of that offer. We have adapted our film programme along with other activities here to align with our new direction and to ensure we can continue in a changing landscape of reduced resources. We believe we are offering a realistic solution in a challenging environment, and we also welcome offers and opportunities to work with external organisations to host cinema events here.”
Neil Young is slightly more sceptical
“I was saddened but unsurprised [about the cancellation of BIFF], having proceeded since July 2014 on the likelihood that the festival wouldn't be returning in any meaningful form. This official confirmation is therefore rather like that Lord Lucan death certificate - but in neither instance do we actually have a "corpse"! Needless to say, I disagree with Jo Quinton-Tulloch comment in her email issued yesterday where she simply said that BIFF was "unsustainable" - a one-word 'explanation' for the termination of a 21-year-old festival which, thanks to the sustained efforts of people like Bill Lawrence and Tony Earnshaw, gradually built relationships with local audiences and the national industry - along with a genuinely international reputation that was clearly a factor in that unique UNESCO honour.
I only yesterday got back from the Rotterdam film festival where over the course of a week at least a dozen film-makers, journalists and programmers from various countries asked me about BIFF and when it was coming back - evidence of how the festival helped to increase Bradford's profile on the international cultural map. And now they'll be reading these headlines. Bradford deserves better.”
There are some who hope that the festival will return away from the auspices of the museum, with David Wilson – head of the Bradford City of Film – telling Bradford paper Telegraph & Argus “The National Media Museum have hosted it for the last few years, yes, but they are not the only player in town. We are not throwing in the towel on the film festival. I'm certainly not.”
Young adds for Screen Daily
“As many people have pointed out, Bradford is perfectly capable of hosting such an event outside the auspices of a government-run institution - it's worth remembering that the vast majority of the world's film-festivals aren't operated in this way. And announcements like yesterday's are of course eminently and depressingly predictable in the light of the British government's unambiguously hostile attitude towards the arts since 2010.”
Since Screen Daily spoke to Jo Quinton-Tulloch, she has made a statement via the NMM website: http://blog.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk/2016/02/04/my-message-to-bradford/
Remember yesterday when I said Kylo Ren and Poe Dameron sound like Indie Bands. Well, it got me thinking about the fact that both Adam Driver and Oscar Issac star in the brilliant Coen Brothers Inside Llewyn Davis
And here they both are singing about going into space. Hmmm.... does this mean Snoke is actually Justin Timberlake?
(And yes lots of these posts are about Star Wars. How can do a blog about geeky stuff without mentioned the biggest geek thing of the year, and the decade?)
Shouting Into The Void
(Star Wars VII - The Force Awakens, seen 17/12/2015 at Kino Kosmos, Tallinn)
WARNING - THIS IS FULL OF SPOILERS!!!!!
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
*So, Han and Leia's son has turned to the Dark Side, a new evil shimmers over the galaxy after the demise of the Empire and Luke Skywalker seems to have run away at the first sign of trouble. Welcome to Star Wars Episode VII - Everyone in the Original Movies you loved turns out to be a bit shit
*This is a mirror of the original film. Whether you want to go for 'this is a testament to the power of the first one' or 'can't anyone do anything original' is up to you
*Gets straight into the action. You can really tell the fact that there's a lot of physical effects as opposed to CGI
*My they're going to sell a lot of BB8 toys.
*Rey is a great character. Watch for the constant "She's a breath of a fresh air in a male dominated mythology' / 'No she isn't' type back and forth that the internet loves.
*Look, I am not suprised you know who was offed (considering their actor had asked for them to be killed off before). But you could hear the childhood dreams of a generation breaking when that scene occured
*Snoke - bet he turns out to be tiny and the 'Anti-Yoda'
*Millennium Falcon was cool, is cool and will remain cool
*Bad guys in the Star Wars Universe. Next time you plan a large killing machine ask the designers 'Is there a flaw that someone can exploit'. If they say 'Yes' then defend the fucking thing you idiots.
*Stop this 'ooh, they're looking a bit old and not like I remember them' about the actors from the original. People get older and look different. Get over it.
*Just how did Kylo get his grandfather's skull? Scouring the galaxy, stolen from an Ewok trader or a weird Xmas present?
*Kylo Ren - an indie band if ever I heard one
*Actually, so is Poe Dameron
*Mark Hamill's agent deserves a medal. "So Mark. You'll stand around in what appears to be an Enya video for two minutes and get paid a shitload of money". "I'm good with that."
*This does feel 'proper' Star Wars and one that appeals to fanboys and a new generation. Though it's a shame it does end on a vague cliffhanger and not have proper 'closure' like the original. Though welcome to the world of franchises
*I liked it a lot though. Yes it's Hollywood franchise excess. But it's pretty good Hollywood franchise excess.
One of my favourite short films of this year. Look, it's got a cop called Triceracop, a song by David Hasselhoff and Hitler - "The worst criminal of all time".
It's just enormous, enormous fun....
Not sure if this counts as nerdy or not, but I love this old documentary. I think Lee Titt is one of the great lost British filmmakers. Don't you?
There's a little known film coming out soon called STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, which you should go watch to support independent cinema.
To get ready, why not watch the genius short Vader Sessions which takes dialogue from other James Earl Jones films to create a whole new back story for Darth Vader in A New Hope...
Having already talked about my love of my redesigned movie posters. I am also a big fan of book covers, especially Penguin Books. So I love these classic Video Games re-imagined as book covers from the great illustrator Olly Moss
When I was a young slip of a lad, there was plenty of sci-fi TV shows. Babylon 5. The various iterations of Star Trek. X-Files. Millennium. And hands up who remember the likes of Dark Skies, Ultraviolet (a curious British vampire show) and loads of others in the ealry to mid 90s when sci-fi was the 'in' thing.
Then there was a dip. Reality TV became king and the sci-fi/genre show became something of a rare thing.
But now sci-fi and genre are back. The Flash. Gotham. Daredevil. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Even The X-Files.
And I haven't seen any of them. It's hard to make the commitment to one show let alone plenty. But in 2015 I aim to try and get through some of them. A little bird makes it known that I have season 1 of Gotham in my Xmas Stocking (and to be fair, season one of True Detective as well..... I hope the winter is cold to justify spending all my time indoors....)
If there are two things I would want more of, it would be time and more wall space. I love posters - and especially film poster - and I love alternative designs for films but have no space to put them...
It all started with me when I started going to Poland more than a decade ago and discovered their history of poster art and how they did posters completely differently from the norm (often the artist only had the synopsis for the film). Things such as 8 1/2 and The Birds (pictured in this article) were stunning to me.
Now alternative posters are a big thing all over the world and I can;t help but marvel over many.
But until I decide to put things up in the cold corridor there's not much room....