Spring at Last – and new shoots for FECers
After a long and particularly cold Edinburgh winter what a treat to welcome spring – evenings warm enough to sit out in, new shoots and new beginnings to celebrate.
The Blackbird in Tollcross was the scene for a really enjoyable get together of FECers 2017 and friends: a wee chance to catch up, to swap stories, to toast achievements and to wish folk well as new opportunities take people off in new directions.
The moving spirit in getting us all together was Noemi, and more on her varied and exciting recent news below. We were saying goodbye (for now) to Federico; having just finished his most recent stint at Edinburgh International Film Festival, he is heading down to London – an interview at Dogwoof awaiting him there. Fingers crossed Fed.
Also off to pastures new is Paulina. Paulina has just been appointed to a dream post, working as Head of Comms and PR in the Kaunas Artists House in her native Lithuania. Last year we had the opportunity through seminar presentations and project development workshops to follow Paulina’s growing fascination with the modernist history of Kaunas and the lost histories of its once vibrant then devastated Jewish population; and to see this fascination come to fruition in a beautiful and imaginative final project. It’s an utter joy then to celebrate one of our graduates moving into the space that their own research has opened up for them. Paulina also continues to work on a range of independent critical and curatorial projects – including the spectacularly titled My Soul Knows My Meat is Doing Bad Things. Power to your meat Paulina.
Heading overseas too was James; this time travel and an opportunity to take a couple of months to move around Europe, see friends, and feed his always curious creativity. Also a chance to breathe after an intense period working three jobs in his chosen field of fashion. Wonderful to see James and we’ll look forward to hearing about the trip.
Glasses were raised to Rachel and her fantastic new appointment at Tyneside Cinema – brilliant but in no way surprising for our Rachel the verdict of her peers. Rachel’s archive project partner Camilla is still loving her Edinburgh gallery job (though I’m not sure scoring a full time job on the day of dissertation hand-in has yet been fully forgiven); and planning the latest Invisible Women outings for Rotterdam and Edinburgh International Art Festival. Cannot wait, it’s great to see this terrific project keep reaching new audiences.
Congratulations Carys …
… for being appointed as Industry Events Assistant at Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Carys has been an active and productive figure on the Edinburgh festival and film exhibition scene of late, still finding time to welcome this year’s FECers to the Edinburgh Short Film Festival, amongst others. Thank you Carys.
Carys says of her new role “The industry team over at EIFF are so lovely, and another group of strong women that I’d be honoured to integrate myself into. And to top it off I get to sit just behind Emma VDP in the EIFF office!”
FEC in China
March brought absolutely lovely news from Yishu back in China. We’ve been keeping up with her amazing work as programmer at FIRST International Film Festival – not least through the really inspiring collaboration with Tianyi and Titi last year, where they launched the first edition of the festival beyond China and Taiwan.
Yishu wrote to us about her time on FEC:
“After the year at FEC I soon went back to China wishing to get a job in film. Luckily enough (and I guess thanks to my FEC degree and knowledge), I started as a programmer at one of the most important film festivals in China, FIRST International Film Festival, almost immediately when I was back in China. I really enjoy working with a group of very talented colleagues who shares some really interesting and open ideas on film curation, and I can exert the most of what I have experienced and learnt at FEC. Though the job comes with massive workload and great pressure, I believe this is the job most close to my imagination of real festival curation within the Chinese cinema’s context.
What urged me to finally write this email is a sudden feeling of dreams coming true. In the recent month I felt a very nice “homecoming” emotion: I just got off a video meeting with Noemi as she is trying to do a tour of Chinese films. Tianyi is back in Beijing for a film curation job. We got to know each other last year when she is hosting the tour screening programme that I run at my festival. We talked about Chinese FEC students and are thrilled to realize that we now have students from 5 years of FEC working in film in Beijing. We are talking about having a meet up soon!
The all above reminds me the year in Edinburgh. Back then we were all students but now we are everywhere in the cinema and making real things happen. Till now the FEC days are still one of the best times in my life. It is such a short year but I believe I have taken a lot with me when I leave. And I believe what I learnt and experienced at FEC is continuously helping me and affecting how I programme now. Not to mention that you two are the best mentors I’ve ever met 🙂
Miss you so much! Hope I will get the chance to go back to Edinburgh again!”
It was fantastic to read that there are now eight FECers from different years of the programme all pursuing film careers in Beijing. Later on Yishu passed on these lovely photos of their get together saying “We talked about our life back in Edinburgh and memories of learning from you till late midnight. Yang Pei said it is like doing the FEC again in one night 😛 We will definitely soon have a party of all eight Beijing FECers!”
Yishu, we would love to see you back here. We miss you all, and would have loved to be at the Beijing FEC get-together. Mibbe next time?
Even by FEC standards it’s been one heck of a week.
Hats off to our incredible students who have made the most of every opportunity, and shown us how to keep your energy and positivity on the up, and how to grace every occasion.
FEC Programming Masterclass: EIFF Festival Artistic Director and Deputy Artistic Director:
Wednesday brought the Edinburgh International Film Festival Artistic Director, Mark Adams, and Deputy Artistic Director, Diane Henderson to come and speak to us at the Uni. FEC students have been working on their short film programme, and were able to benefit from a great masterclass from Mark and Diane, focussing on the challenges of programming a complex and varied international festival. We are aware it’s a phenomenally busy time in their schedule as they launch different elements, so hugely appreciate their contribution.
Mark and Diane took us through the process of programming; illustrating some of the incredible work and planning that goes into sourcing and securing their programming. They lifted the curtain on some of the machinery that underpins the working of this massive creatures, offering an up close insider’s eye on festival culture. Their willingness to share their expertise and knowledge were much valued and the discussion has added new dimensions to the students’ participation in the festival.
Masterclass in Curation and Exhibition: Mark Daniels, New Media Scotland
We were brilliantly welcomed by Mark Daniels, a long time supporter of the programme, to his new and exciting exhibition space and ideas laboratory in the City Arts Centre.
Mark gave a masterclass to the FECers, introducing some of the incredible exhibition projects he has overseen, especially through his ongoing and highly successful Atmosphere screenings. As well as taking the students through some of his different activities as curator and supporter of digital media artists (through the AltW strand) Mark shared some of the challenges and possibilities of working in new ways with the moving image, harnessing different kinds of projection technologies and the possibilities of alternative spaces to offer a properly inspiring guide to alternative modes of exhibition.
Thursday: Pitching Frenzy
Thursday brought every FEC students’ favourite day of the year: the opportunity to pitch final project ideas (refined over a series of earlier workshops with peers and programme tutors) to an array of industry professionals and to receive expert feedback.
It’s never an easy experience and we know much of its value lies in its challenge. Huge congratulations to all the FECers for their work and engagement with the process. Whether you loved every minute of it, or whether you’ll prefer it in the rearview mirror we know how much you will all take from this part of the programme. Our professionals spoke enthusiastically of the quality of the presentations; and of the ambition and commitment evident across your ideas. As Leanne said wanting to change things is a wonderful goal, and what research should be all about making things better in the world.
As ever we are enormously grateful for the time, expertise and generous feedback of all our professionals: all were fantastic and insightful, offering new perspectives and direction.
Industry Professionals: FEC Pitches
Noemi Blanchard-Lemoine: Independent curator, project manager Confucius Institute, FEC graduate. Mark Daniels: Executive Director, New Media Scotland and Alt W fund. Leanne Dawson: Chair, Scottish Queer International Film Festival, Lecturer, University of Edinburgh, queer studies scholar. Matt Lloyd: Director, Glasgow Short Film Festival, Independent programmer and event organiser. Jane McWilliams: Senior Producer, BBC producer/director
Your Festival, Your Community Conference Stirling, April 2018.
The weekend brought an amazing opportunity to FEC: an invitation, courtesy of Regional Screen Scotland, to attend the two-day inaugural Your Festival, Your Community conference at the Macrobert in Stirling.
The conference showcased some of the astonishing range of festivals flourishing across Scotland. This vibrant eco-culture of exhibition is one of the things that brings students of film from across the world to Scotland where they can experience its variety and its possibilities – as programmers, participants, volunteers, embedded researchers and, of course, as audiences.
The conference content showed a scene which encompasses events from the international to the defiantly local: one nominee for best venue was Ben’s house in the Cromarty Film Festival, screening films in, yes, Ben’s house. Talks and participants range from international festivals to small scale initiatives.
FEC students are already planning their trip to this year’s Alchemy, increasingly recognised as one of the world’s leading experimental film festivals (FEC-watchers please note this year’s Alchemy produced by one Rachel Pronger) where Richard Ashrowan has seen his festival bring video artists and visitors from across the world in ways which have brought significant cultural and economic benefits to the town of Hawick. Additionally, as the presence and contributions of some of the local film-makers whose work has emerged out of the festival’s programme of outreach and education indicated, film offers other less tangible benefits to well-being, health and self-expression; as well as promoting feelings of belonging. This idea was reinforced by volunteer of the year Marij von Helmond’s comment on the way Dunoon’s festival is a source of pride, even to local people who have not attended.
It was a truly energising couple of days and an opportunity to reflect on the values and the value of film exhibition to all sorts of different communities and audiences. Central FEC concerns of outreach, inclusivity and collaboration were strongly on display, as well as some nice wee examples of the oft-reiterated ‘don’t ask, don’t get’ mantra, a key resource in making a lot from a little. It was great to have the chance to see familiar faces and to be introduced to all sorts of novel practices and potential partners in a sector whose strength, as Robert Livingstone noted, lies in its diversity.
Robert Livingstone, Harriet Warman and the team at Regional Screen Scotland did a first class job in programming such a productive and rich event which enabled a wide and thought-provoking range of speakers and contributions. It was lovely too to attend a conference which started with a recognition of achievement; an opportunity to witness and to celebrate the work happening around moving image exhibition across Scotland.
It was an extraordinarily valuable experience and we greatly appreciate the opportunity Regional Screen Scotland offered for the FEC postgrads to attend – an opportunity grasped willingly by the entire cohort who were, as ever, great to spend time with and real contributors to the event.
All this – and hand-in week
Yes, it was also hand in week for a number of different assignments. Looking forward to heading into the research and reflections from an exceptionally full semester. Congratulations on all your submissions.
PS You can see we weren’t joking about managing multiple deadlines being a key FEC skill you’ll take away.