Manon Haag (2016), who recently won a highly competitive and fully funded Lord Kelvin Adam Smith PhD scholarship at the University of Glasgow which offers “the opportunity for outstanding research students to participate in some of the most exciting areas of interdisciplinary research carried out by the University”, writes:
‘After FEC’ – One year on
After graduating from the MSc in autumn last year, I have worked in several capacities among networks I had built during my time at Edinburgh Uni, spent volunteering for several organisations which would prove determining in my finding jobs allowing me to stay in Scotland.
Africa in Motion Film Festival
Freshly arrived in Scotland, Africa in Motion was the first opportunity given to us as a new FEC cohort. I was intrigued, having been seldom exposed to African films despite seven years of studying film. I volunteered for the festival to get to know Edinburgh’s audiences and make new friends – but, I must stress, without thinking it would provide that useful in finding jobs in the future.
Two years on, I am now Marketing Coordinator for the festival. This position excitingly includes an element of research into the films in the programme and their production contexts, allowing me to become familiar with a number of historical and political issues in African arts. I enjoy working in a position where I am stepping out of my comfort zone and my research interests to discover exciting and stimulating films and facts. I couldn’t recommend more trying out volunteering for such an inclusive and benevolent organisation.
My research interests (and where they led me)
That being said, I am not casting my own research interest to the side – on the contrary! During my masters’ course, I took a strong interest in Scottish heritage and film tourism, picking my option courses and essay topics carefully as opportunities to research further into the links between the two.
At the end of the first year of my masters (I studied part-time), I attended a day-long workshop organised by David Martin-Jones at Glasgow Uni, Developing Film Tourism: Theory and Practice.
Two years on, I am about to start my PhD under the tutelage of the same Martin-Jones on Film Tourism as Heritage tourism for literary adaptations in Scotland, a project which was inspired to him by the very workshop I attended!
During my time at Edinburgh Uni, I discovered a field which I want to keep researching alongside fellow academics and organisations also keen to explore deeper. Focusing my Masters experience on Film Tourism and Scottish heritage and identity felt like a gamble at times, as it is such a niche field (especially if I was to move out of Scotland shortly after my Masters). I am delighted (and relieved) that it found an echo in academia and the tourism industry, and I am glad for Susan and Jane’s support in my choices throughout my masters studies. They have shown a genuine enthusiasm – at times more so than myself! – which has allowed me to power through.
One year after graduating, I am incredibly lucky to be exactly where I wanted to be; in Scotland, juggling work and academia alongside people I admire and projects I feel passionate about.
Looking around me, I feel many of fellow MSc graduates on tracks with the projects they pursued during our times together and feel optimistic about prospects for future graduates in the field of Film Curation and Exhibition in Scotland and further afield!
Federico D’Accinni (2017)
My experience researching on the role of the film curator in the digital world
While in the process of researching for my final project – focusing on the role of the film curator in the online world today – I have had the invaluable chance to spend an afternoon at the MUBI offices in London in late May, engaging in a very stimulating conversation with Efe Cakarel, founder and CEO of the platform.
We discussed what role curation can have within our everyday lives today, when we’re overflowed with content and information of any sort; moreover, we touched upon the visibility of film curators online and what positive and reciprocal conversations can be established between such figures and audiences in the digital era we currently live in.
As an active user on MUBI for the last 3 years myself, I have come to appreciate more and more the curatorial ethos lying behind such a model; by being offered only 30 films to choose from, spectators are invited to engage more intelligently with their cinematic experience, discovering new filmmaking horizons that they might not be able to encounter if the availability of the films was wider. With humans choosing films for us instead of algorithms, audiences can become more aware of and familiar with curation itself – a powerful act of selection in a world of excess.
Overall, I think my chat with Efe was a really interesting and inspiring experience; I learnt more about how to interview professionals from the industry and I was able to enter a world that has always been really inspiring to me as a film student. Moreover, I was happy to share my passion for curators – such hidden figures that often should deserve more public attention than the one they actually receive – with someone who directly works in this field.
A huge thanks to my FEC tutors, Susan Kemp & Jane Sillars, for supporting me throughout the whole preparation process of the interview – your help has been incredibly valuable from start to end.
Apart from meeting with Efe at MUBI, I’m also collecting useful opinions from other professionals working in the same area, in order to have a wider view on the subject; during my stay in London, I have managed to interview Kate Taylor (Film Programmer at the BFI London Film Festival), Damian Spandley (Director of Programme for Curzon Cinemas), Nir Cohen (Head of Programming at UK Jewish Film) and Maysa Monção (film critic).
As of now, I’m currently writing these few lines from Sheffield; I’m here working as a Jury Coordinator for the Doc/Fest, kicking off on June 9th. I will be looking after the Tim Hetherington Jury, who is composed by Joanna Natasegara (Academy Award-winning producer and founder of Violet Films), Brenda Coughlin (producer of Academy Award-nominated Dirty Wars and Laura Poitras’ CITIZENFOUR) and Wendy Ide (film critic at The Observer & Screen International and short film programmer at BFI London Film Festival for four years). With the Festival’s programme being really rich as usual, I’m really looking forward to watching some great documentaries in the next few days and to meeting some new exciting people from all over the globe.
Richard Tanner (2017) is currently in Ontario where he is conducting research on rural cinema cultures. A subject which fascinates many, including local communities. Ontario thought so too and Ontario Morning invited him on to the radio show to discuss his research and promote his survey. Excellent work, Richard. His item begins about 12mins into this link.
Filmed in Berlin, Edinburgh and Glasgow in 2015/16, Writing Ensemble: An Experiment in Theatre is a feature documentary following the collaborative processes of playwright Peter Arnott and Professor Laura Bradley as they test an idea of how research can be deployed creatively.
In following Arnott’s struggle to translate Bradley’s research (on the recent, fascinating history of the former GDR and theatre censorship) into a dramatic narrative, the film, by Susan Kemp, took many unexpected twists and turns and the end result has much to tell us about current political concerns if we look closely enough. In a time when even the Prime Minister suggests the sort of disagreement which lies at the heart of democracy ‘jeopardises’ Brexit, and Remainers are labelled ‘Saboteurs’ by the Daily Mail, it is important to remember the impact and actual processes and consequence of ‘silencing’ dissent. As Kemp described in a recent interview for the Herald:
“…the issues we explored in GDR have resonance today. If people risk prison for what they believe in or what they say, then what sort of world are we living in? We must be aware of this in contemporary society.
“Of course officially there was no censorship [in the former GDR],” Kemp adds. “It wasn’t acknowledged. There was more of an understanding that if you go to certain places in your work and do certain things there may be consequences. And so the artists had to be very clever.
“For example, Helene Weigel, Brecht’s wife, who ran the Berliner Ensemble, was very clever in how she dealt with the authorities. As we outline in the film, she would talk to the censors as if they were all experts – ‘Of course, you must know this Greek drama we’re doing’. They knew nothing but didn’t want to be seen to know nothing, so it very difficult for them to tell her what she could or couldn’t do. Weigel was a master at getting things through the system.”
At the heart of the film is also a story of a wall, the Berlin Wall and how people and artists alike lived and experienced it.
The film will screen as part of a double bill with Andreas Dresen’s Stilles Land on May 14, 2017 at the Filmhouse Edinburgh.
Dear students, current and former, we’re delighted to announce that the MSc Film Exhibition and Curation has received a batch of nominations for the annual EUSA Teaching Awards, across a record four categories.
We are very touched that so many of our students have nominated the programme and have taken the time to put together such detailed and appreciative commentary (shucks) – not least as a number of nominations are from students who graduated last year. It’s also a great reminder of just how constructive good feedback can be (did we mention that we’re nominated for Best Feedback?).
Leaving the comfort of a master’s level degree is pretty terrifying. The ending of FEC was rather abrupt for myself – just two weeks after having just finished an exhausting final project I headed home to Essex to conserve my funds and figure out what to do next. This initially led to a few months of home-town boredom, relaxation and unemployment but shortly after my second month at home things started to pick up from all around. Initially I gained a role at a design agency in London which turned out not to be the perfect fit, however, during this period I found the time to explore some of my own projects.
After having spent a few months without writing or engaging critically with much I realised that I felt like writing again. I searched across the Internet for a few days to see if there was a journal, website or blog that I could see myself contributing to. Whilst there are a myriad of brilliant film journals out there, currently I found that none fitted with my exact interests or aesthetics. I was keen to write about moving images of all kinds, not just film, so I decided to create my own journal. I was also keen to have a journal that was feminist, but that provided a different kind of feminist aesthetic. This lead to creating DISPATCH (www.dispatchfmi.com) a feminist moving image journal that looked to provide an intersectional feminist perspective on all kinds of moving image, be it film, TV, artists moving image or anything else that moves. Insofar DISPATCH is going very well thanks the work from my co-editor Laura (also FEC) and the continued support from other FEC alumni and the wonderful contacts that I made in Edinburgh. Running DISPATCH has provided me with a great opportunity to exercise a variety of skills including writing, editing, design, marketing and project management.
Briefly after starting DISPATCH I also gained a part-time 3 month internship with Terracotta Distribution, a far-east-Asian distribution company working within the UK. Terracotta aims to bring Asian cinema that has been ‘missed’ by big distribution companies to the UK. Terracotta has a wide portfolio of titles from horror to comedy to martial arts and works primarily by targeting fans of Asian cinema. I was particularly drawn to the role as I am a huge fan of Asian horror films and was keen to gain the opportunity to understand how these niche types of cinema are distributed. Currently I am working on the social media campaign for our latest title Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell (2015) otherwise known as the Japanese Evil Dead. During my internship at Terracotta I am tutored by Joey Leung and Clare Dean who take me through the process of bringing a film to cinemas and/or DVD which has provided me with all kinds of wonderful film-world insights.
At the start of this year I gained a new full-time role at UCL as an Events Assistant in the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS). The IAS is a research department in UCL which hosts many researchers and research groups and boasts a regular events programme of film screenings, seminars, conferences and public lectures. My role involves coordinating, producing, marketing and managing live events as well as managing the department’s social media presence and room booking services. This role has given me the opportunity to further expand upon the management skills that I fostered during my time on FEC. Additionally this role also lets me engage regularly with a variety of academic discourses and allows me to continue to develop the critical approaches that I developed during my time in Edinburgh. So far I have worked on events with Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Daniel Levitin and Joy Gregory. Being able to both produce and enjoy the events that I work on is a great benefit and I am continually exposed to new ideas and schools of thought. I’m thrilled to be working in such a politically active, creative and research driven environment and I’m pretty excited about where the skills I learn in this role might take me.
Currently I’m juggling all three roles at once which at times proves challenging, but the varied workload fits well with me. The variety that I am now faced with reflects the way I have learned to work through participating in MSc Film, Exhibition and Curation at Edinburgh. I’m extremely grateful to have been able to study this course under the tutelage of the wonderful Jane and Susan whom have continually shown me the utmost support and provided guidance. Overall I’m pretty thrilled with the opportunities I’ve been given and I’m very much looking forward to a future with DISPATCH, Terracotta Distribution and UCL.
Jennie Shearman (2016) and Laura Nicholson (2017) have joined forces to bring to life a new online publication DISPATCH. In the times we live this is the stuff we need. There are many familiar FEC names bylined , stretching those intellectual muscles and love for film in all manner of ways. It looks FECing good too.
Only two days after my return home from a fantastic, exciting, insightful and learning and experience intensive year in Edinburgh, I started an internship at the Kurzfilmfestival Köln, which not only helped me to settle back in in Germany but also made even more clear to me how much I have learned in that year within the Film, Exhibition and Curation Course at the University of Edinburgh. A big thank you to our mentors Susan and Jane but also to all my fantastic class mates who brought in never-ending amounts of inspiration, ideas, knowledge, fun and motivation.
I joined the team of the Kurzfilmfestival Köln (short: KFFK) in the very crucial phase of finishing up the programme and even was given the chance join the curation team for one of the programmes, which turned out to be called Fokus: Work Work Work. Thus within those first couple of weeks my work consisted of researching national as well as international short films via catalogues, festival programmes and thematically relevant websites. Eventually in one long viewing session our five headed curation team put together a programme, which, I must proudly acknowledge, was almost sold out and earned a lot of praise from the audience. I also did a lot of the more practical work like finding filmmakers, requesting viewing links and ultimately sending out confirmations and requests for screening licences and copies. Other tasks included the co-ordination and supervision of our 50 highly motivated volunteers and occasional venue management complete with a rather terrifying but eventually affirming experience with problematic 16mm copy.
The festival has been operating in Cologne for ten years now. Formerly known as Unlimited Festival it changed its name to Kurzfilmfestival Köln last year in order to promote and use its status as the only short film festival in the city. First and foremost, its aim is to show very good short film but also to provide a platform for filmmakers and young talent and to try and identify new and exciting developments within filmmaking. I was impressed by the wealth and variety of short films the KFFK screens at three venues in the centre of Cologne (Filmforum at Museum Ludwig, Filmpalette and Filmclub 813).
The German competition which includes 26 short films chosen from roughly 700 submissions. Then you can find the Best of Festivals section, which featured three separate programmes this year, bringing prize winning films from festivals all around the world to local screens. Each year there is a “Fokus” programme, which follows a special theme (“Work” this year) and there has been a four hour Kölner Fenster showcasing films from Cologne’s three film and art schools and local talent. The “Kölner Fenster” regularly turns into a huge meeting/party/discussion among colleagues and friends. The New Aesthetics branch of the festival is becoming its signature programme. Entirely new and exciting to me New Aesthetics looks at films that are crossing the boundaries of filmmaking towards internet art, interactive storytelling and games.
For the first time New Aesthetic included a Virtual Reality programme, consisting of nine VR shorts and a Jury prize. Not having watched or experienced any VR before I was surprised how far the production of VR films reaches. From truly beautiful and exciting animated journeys through fantasy landscapes, to documentaries and fiction that jumps between classically narrated bits of film and VR. Although the technological side of VR seems to need one or two more years to sort out issues of focus, stitching and clarity of the images, this showed to me that there are many creative heads out there, ready to make use of the new developments. Also for the first time I got seasick from a film. Though never really thinking about moving out of the way of some VR object while watching the “film” I was surprised by how my body reacted to this new viewing experience (perhaps a faint reminder of the – slightly overrated – train effect on early cinema audiences).
Impressive was also the wealth of film festivals and the degree of collaboration and support between the various festivals and cultural institutions in Cologne. The KFFK screened a New Aesthetic Preview at the Film Festival Cologne, my colleague Seyda Kurt curated a programme for Cinepänz, a children’s film festival with whom we also organised an animation workshop, and our Spotlight on Abbas Kiarostami was curated by Amin Farzanefar, director of the Iranian Film Festival. Furthermore, the regular programme Shorts on Wheels, took the audience on bicycles to various galleries and cultural institutions within the city centre. At each stop my colleagues screened a short film unto a wall or cloth.
All in all, the KFFK has been a wonderful and fun experience with a lovely and motivated team that is keen to experiment and find new and exciting films and ways to show them. It’ll be interesting to see how the festival develops within the next ten years.
For better or for worse Edinburgh University no longer includes hats as part of its fetching graduation ensemble. However consider twenty one metaphorical graduations hats flung into the air in celebration of twenty one fabulous Film, Exhibition and Curation students who graduated yesterday.
There was an amazing turn out from all corners of the world from our students and from their wonderful families, partners and supporters. A special shout out has to go to Isabel’s family who managed not only five family members from Colombia but four (count em) generations of the Cuadros Pedroza family who came to celebrate in Edinburgh. We know the cold might have come as a shock – especially to your brave granny – but it was fab to welcome them here. Denisse’s sister rounded out the Colombian contingent further still.
Honourable mention in terms of air miles travelled of course to the Karambelas family from Vermont USA, who now feel like honorary FECers having previously also made the long trip over to take part in the Glasgow Film Festival in February. Great to meet lots of European families too: some execrable French was spoken (sorry Manon and Charline) and some worse Spanish (ditto Amaya) – Kathinka’s parents can consider themselves as having got away lightly as I didn’t attempt German.
There was some wee tastes of home for those whose families were just too far off; thank you to Fan for introducing us all to those delicious green tea cakes and to Deana for plotting how to continue FEC’s Chinese film presence in Edinburgh and beyond.
Fantastic too that Nell made it up from her archive traineeship at the British Museum in time to cheer on her classmates at the ceremony. Your encouragement of one another and mutual support has been such a feature of the last year; it was lovely to see it in action again.
We were sorry to miss Neal, Vera and Steven – though great to catch up via Carys on Steven’s current work in London. Lots of great updates on exciting jobs, interviews and future study possibilities were exchanged, we really look forward to hearing from you all about how it’s going.
The evening wound up in The Caves as FEC students showed they have not forgotten how to party: it felt very fitting to be back in the place where so many friendships were forged long ago on induction day last year.
Making intersexuality visible through the circulation of Lucia Puenzo’s XXY by Amaya Bañuelos Marco
Cunningham (2016) Media Archive Trainee, Creative Skillset
The title above doesn’t seem to quite give justice to the programme I am currently involved in, as it has involved not only working at Northern Ireland Screen in Belfast, the British Museum in London, but also having hands on celluloid film handling training and getting to attend the Sheffield Doc/Fest, (which had a special focus on film archives designed for the 16 trainees who attended) and the week-long Le Giornate del Cinema Muto in Pordenone Italy. Creative Skillset did wonders putting this all together for a group of enthusiastic and curious people, and I was able to participate because of the practical experience and intellectual stimulation of the FEC course. Through working with Glasgow Film Festival and Hidden Door festival I was able to show creative skillset the results of my ambitions to bring archival films to the public.
I started my degree at University of Edinburgh with film archives in mind. It was only once we started having sessions in which we were forced to come up with ideas quickly that I began to identify exhibiting archive films as my particular passion. Being given the opportunity to explore that passion, is what has given me the credentials required to be part of the Media Archive Traineeship.
After three weeks of training on film preservation and the trip to Sheffield Doc/Fest (another amazing experience) I headed to Belfast to the Digital Film Archive. Before actually spending time working for a regional archive, I had a theory that you could learn a different history of a place from the amateur films that were archived there, and that is precisely what happened in Northern Ireland. The Digital Film Archive contains hundreds of views of Northern Ireland that are not necessarily related to the Troubles and allows for insight into how the place and the people have changed. It was also particularly interesting to learn about the collections policy of an archive with an educational remit. I was given the opportunity to present a collection of films that I had curated for the East Belfast Arts Festival. All in all it was an inspirational adventure.
After Belfast, and another two weeks of training, this time centered around digital archives, all 16 trainees got sent to Pordenone, Italy to participate in the Collegium that’s part of the silent film festival. The festival feels truly unique, both in the sense of its form and the audience present. It’s largely an academic and professional festival, and has only one venue, where silent films are played from 9am until after midnight, more or less non-stop. The films are always accompanied by live music. Primarily, the music is improvised by amazing pianists, as a large number of the films are screened in their original 35mm format and are only rarely screened at all. A particularly wonderful memory of mine is of a screening of two Buster Keaton films, with music conceived of, and performed by school age children from a local music academy.
Directly after returning from Pordenone, I started work at the British Museum. The chance to participate in workings of such a large and well-established institution has been a privilege. I’ve been engaged with the archiving process of newly created digital content and have learned a great deal of practical skills along with absorbing some fascinating history. I couldn’t be more grateful to Creative Skillset for these wonderful opportunities, and I know I couldn’t have gotten there without having done the Film Exhibition and Curation MSc and the support of Jane Sillars and Susan Kemp. Thanks a million, both of you.
Community Curation in Practice Africa In Motion
In June, I joined the Africa in Motion team as Programme & Volunteer Coordinator. It has been a fantastic experience thus far – working with a small team has meant I’ve been able to get stuck into lots of different areas of the festival development. One of the most exciting projects I have been able to work on is our Pop-Up Festival in Paisley, which is be happening on the 29th of October at Thomas Coats Memorial Church. We will also be holding one in Musselburgh on the 30th of October.
The idea behind the pop-festival is not only to reach new communities and continue to develop our audiences as a festival – but also to move outside of the cities. As we all know festivals are usually concentrated within a particular city, but this pop-festival is an opportunity to move beyond those boundaries. It has been given us a chance to work with local groups in these communities and programme what they want to see, as oppose to parachuting in and screening what we think they should be watching.
In Paisley, we partnered with Create Paisley and Pachedu. Create Paisley works to deliver multi-arts workshops and programmes to the youth of Paisley, while Pachedu focus on promoting diversity and tolerance in the Renfrewshire communities. Through working with these organsations, we were able to engage the local community and have them curate the mini-festival. We spoke to them and conducted focus groups discussing the genre, country, language, themes they would be interested in – then hosted a curation workshop where we spoke about African Cinema and how we programme the festival.
Based on their interests we showed them a compilation of films – from which they selected three. Following the consensus on the film selection, we supported them in deciding on various complementary events to enhance the film screening. The group of individuals we have been working with have been fantastic – all really keen on the event and excited to take ownership of the mini-festival – which is exactly what we wanted from the beginning. The project has been about the communities – bringing local groups together and promoting community cohesion – and it has been eye opening experience for me to see how community curation can actually work in practice. It has made me reflect on the importance of engaging local communities in the process of curation and how film can really does have the power to bring people together.
It was has been a very exciting project so far and it still isn’t over – check out our Facebook event for further details:
Special thank you to Maria Suarez from Create Paisley and Johannes Gonani from Pachedu – this event would not be happening without them. Also the rest of the AiM team who have worked on this event.
I also would like to thank both Susan Kemp and Jane Sillars – who provided me with an overwhelming amount of support and training during and beyond my MSc in Film, Exhibition & Curation that have prepared me to enter the world of film exhibition.
28th Telluride Film Festival Student Symposium (1-5 September 2016)
The impressions are still settling from what was one of the most surreal experiences of my life as film addict and student. The Telluride Film Festival, where I participated in the 28th Student Symposium, a side program bringing together a select group of students from around the world, has recently wrapped its 43rd edition. Having once again curated an elegant and culturally significant selection of films, the festival provided a true cinematic vacation and most indulgent experience of film escapism.
Telluride Film Festival was founded in 1973 and is today one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, existing, however, in a category of its own. Set in the beautiful town of Telluride, high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the festival takes place each year over the Labor Day weekend. The festival famously doesn’t announce its program until the opening day, underlining the trust and reputation it has built with its audience, a loyal group of cinephiles making the annual pilgrimage to get lost in movies.
Compared to other festivals of the same prominence, it is much smaller in scope. And much more contained; in location, duration, film selection, and simplicity of the overall production. It is a very intimate cinematic event, organized in a manner that utilizes the remote, scenic location to its atmospheric advantage, creating a three-day cocoon where the barriers between the art, the screen, the author, the performer and the audience disintegrate. The absence of red carpets, juries and awards, press and distribution market in its usual festival form, removes that degree of exclusivity and industry alienation, in service of pure joy and excitement that is film discovery.
The experience was all-encompassing; the town was living and pulsing with movies. Our Symposium schedule was jam-packed with film screenings, discussions and guest speakers, from early morning to late night. There were such moments when a lunch break turned into a quick meal stop at one of the open air Q&A sessions with, for example, Werner Herzog and Errol Morris, or Tom Hanks and Bryan Cranston, while late at night, the sounds of open air film screening filled the streets and kept the bears away. The Labor Day picnic saw Herzog receive his volcano-shaped birthday cake while we lounged in the meadow eating, followed by a Q&A with Emma Stone and Damien Chazelle, there to promote La La Land. Then there was that time I hitched a last minute solo ride on the gondola and travelled over the mountain in pitch dark to catch a screening of Frantz in the nearby mountain village.
Our student group had a specially tailored program, the selection offering a variety of international film entries, old and new, spanning over all screening locations. The combination of film screenings followed by group discussions, as well as discussions with filmmakers themselves, opened up space for new layers of reading and interpretation, adding depth and dimension of film experience, new understanding of the art-form and the act of creation itself. The sessions illuminated where the stories begin and how they take form, all expressed differently by these talented artists, each with their own sensibility and energy.
The films all resonated one way or another, the programming consistent in quality. Personal standouts included Moonlight by Barry Jenkins, and Graduation by Cristian Mungiu, both of whom were guest speakers in our group. For Barry Jenkins, the premiere of his film Moonlight at Telluride was especially significant, seeing as this is where it all started for him, in a way, with himself participating in one of the Student Symposiums, and later returning to work at the festival. He was very gracious with the group, generously sharing his insights, sources of inspiration, as well as personal details woven into the film, making it all the more memorable and inspiring.
The nature of work and projects we have undertaken throughout the year in the Film, Exhibition and Curation course have created a natural base for the type of engagement and observation needed to navigate this particular environment, extending into one of the most rewarding in a series of learning experiences.
I sincerely thank my mentors Jane and Susan for their guidance, care and support throughout the year, and for helping get this particular journey off the ground. Without them, Telluride would have remained a mere bookmarked dream of a cinematic mountain retreat.
Studying film exhibition and curation at the University of Edinburgh has been a valuable experience which I was eager to apply to my local native area, that is to say Alsace, France.
I used time allocated for research within the programme to go back home to explore Alsatian film archives. I was based in local folk museum Ecomusée d’Alsace but managed to meet a range of moving image professionals during my 2-month visit. Discussing resources and current initiatives with them made me realise that, despite ‘film archive’ emerging as a buzz word in academia, most of the practical work is still to be done. The field of film archives is full of opportunities, especially when working on an international level and trying to create Pan-European projects (and further).
I met many lovely and truly passionate professionals and non-professionals, both in France and in Scotland who are designing innovative and creative strategies to generate interest around existing moving images. They are trying to raise awareness of those images as a support for memory, artistic creation and overall powerful social and political significance.
Whether a personal film reel or official TV or film images, moving images have the capacity to generate a deeply personal connection with audiences. To me, moving images are currently the most powerful and most used medium to shape history and memory. They are extremely familiar to us, which strengthen their impact when rehashed, reworked and reflected upon.
There is still a lot to be done for funding organisations and the general public to be made aware of the power of the archive. I will put to you a few exciting questions which stemmed out of my field research;
Which images are valuable?
What is to be exhibited and what can be exhibited?
How can we achieve fairness and a true representation when taking into account audience interest, legal and practical matters?
How do we exhibit film archives?
I leave those questions with future FECers who will, I am sure, develop further as the field of film archives grows.
I will conclude with a small advice to those interested in film archives; look up film archive festivals and who is behind them. You’d be surprised to find single individuals, who could probably use a hand, putting all their efforts into amazing events and safeguarding odysseys. Opportunities are numerous and much closer than you might think. Most large businesses, art and governmental organisations have film collections waiting for cataloguing, research and exhibition.
I, myself, have caught the ‘archive fever’ and will shortly start volunteering at the Centre for Collections at the University of Edinburgh thanks to Rachel Hosker who guided me through my master’s research.
Film at Edinburgh Blog Updates
Take one beautiful Greek island.
Take two fantastic film festivals.
Take three MSc Film, Exhibition and Curation students past and present.
Aliki Makrigianni (2017) has followed in the footsteps of her compatriots and former MSc FEC students Hara Vlachou and Theodoros Karamanolis to the island of Syros. Aliki spent the summer working on the Syros International Film Festival. Aliki had a brilliant time working on the festival and has come back full of exciting ideas around film and live music collaboration.
As we’ve spent years longing to go out to Syros to enjoy AnimaSyros – the international film animation festival – which Hara and Theo have been working on, this just feels like rubbing it in a bit.
And to prove there is no end to the sickeningly glamorous travels of our FEC students, this update on what Steven Armour (2016) has been up to since submitting his final project is enough to have me chewing my desk as I look out at the Edinburgh drizzle. Thanks for the kind words Steven and can’t wait to hear how it all went.
“I just wanted to send a quick email to thank Jane and Susan for being such encouraging and truly inspiring course directors, and for making the Film, Exhibition and Curation course so enjoyable.
I thought I should also update you to let you know I’ve had the good fortune of being selected for this year’s 28 Times Cinema initiative, organised by Europa Cinemas, meaning that I will be attending the Venice Film Festival next week as a jury member and reviewer for the Venice Days sidebar selection of films. The jury comprises myself and 27 other young individuals from each country of the EU (I’m representing the UK), and we’re presided over by avant garde queer filmmaker Bruce LaBruce (Film and Gender will come in even more handy!).
I believe my involvement and experiences in Film, Exhibition and Curation were invaluable for my application and helping me secure this position. I also get to partake in workshops covering the likes of cinema networks across Europe, film festival social media marketing, translating cinema for European audiences, and film criticism. Should be a great and exciting experience!”
Nollywood Week 2016
Leslie de Oliveira (2016) took up a fantastic opportunity in Paris earlier this summer, volunteering on this year’s Nollywood Week film festival. Nollywood Week is a relatively new addition to the festival circuit and is dedicated to promoting a lesser known cinema. Leslie says she was particularly drawn to working on an event that “ focuses on promoting an alternative cinema (successful in Africa and within the African diaspora around the world but not distributed through Western traditional circuits, hence totally invisible)”.
As it turns out she had a ringside seat at a festival which is growing rapidly from its initial small scale to a major happening in the city. Leslie says she learned a great deal from the challenges and the successes of the festival and that “ It was very interesting to witness the mutation of a small festival with humble expectations to a larger scale event “
Nollywood Week video
Leslie has now returned to Paris and is working on some collaborative cultural projects as well as having set up her own company to develop her own film curatorial practice, beginning by working on the lovely ideas she was researched for her final project. Bonne chance et bon courage Leslie.
It was during an undergraduate film course on global cinema when I first became fascinated in how films circulate and reach viewers. Picture it: a group of fifteen 20- year olds watching films like Mehrjui’s The Cow and Omirbajev’s Student in rural Vermont, USA. Two years later, as a Film, Exhibition & Curation MSc student, I was even more determined to dig deeper into the mechanics of film distribution and sales. I successfully applied for an internship with Film Movement, an indie film distributor, and left Edinburgh for New York City in early May to complete an intensive four-month placement. Film Movement is a North American distributor of award-winning independent and foreign films. Since its launch in 2002, Film Movement has released more than 250 feature films and shorts from 50 countries across 6 continents, and regularly acquires top contenders at Sundance, Cannes, Venice, Toronto, Berlin, Tribeca and, more recently, Hot Docs and AFI Docs. I wanted to work for Film Movement specifically for two reasons: its business model is truly “full service”: Film Movement releases its films through art-house cinemas, universities, libraries, television channels, Cable VOD platforms, broadband outlets, in-flight entertainment systems and on home video. Secondly, the small size of staff—15 people or so—meant greater responsibilities for even the most junior employees. With only four months, I wanted to maximize what I could learn on the job. As an exhibition intern, I assisted with general office administration but worked as a kind of assistant to Film Movement’s Director of Public Relations and Promotions Genevieve Villaflor, an incredibly sharp woman with vast knowledge of the industry. Under her guidance, I wrote press releases and press kits for new acquisitions and regional theatrical screenings, and tracked press coverage of Film Movement titles across print, broadcast and online outlets. This also entailed keeping track of the best quotes from positive reviews to use for marketing materials. In addition to handling email inquiries from press outlets, exhibitors, filmmakers, and publicists, I also collated sales reports, updated metadata for digital partners, wrote film synopses, physically prepared and shipped theatrical and publicity assets, quality checked new home entertainment releases, curated short films for the Film of the Month club and helped manage the database spanning hundreds of films.
For fear of writing another dissertation-length piece, I won’t go into detail here addressing the competitive landscape of film distribution and what companies like Film Movement are doing to stay competitive. Instead, I’ve listed below a few tips that I think might be more immediately helpful for the next FECer who wants to pursue a career in indie film distribution:
1) Know your Excel!
2) Familiarize yourself with the schedules of leading film festivals as employees plan their calendars around them.
3) Understand that “VOD” is an umbrella term: there’s Cable VOD; subscription VOD; transactional VOD; ad-supported VOD and other types, all of which operate differently.
4) If you are specifically interested in film publicity and marketing, I urge you to study published press kits, press releases and wrap reports that can be easily accessed online.
5) When possible, ask to sit in on acquisitions meetings. It is endlessly interesting to observe how executives decide what films to acquire and the terms of sale.
6) Read the trades: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Screen International are the big three.
Just attended the fascinating Digital Single Market panel as part of the Digital REWIRED event at EIFF. Aside from the consensus that fact that the world of film exhibition keeps utterly changing every nat’s breathe is both exciting and extraordinarily difficult it was great to see the woman on the floor organising it all was FEC graduate Ana Moraes – now Dr Ana Moraes after successfully completing her PhD a month or so ago. Even more brilliant is the fact that she will take up a position as research assistant with David Martin-Jones in the autumn. Huge huge congratulations. We are so proud!
Fan Yije was recently invited to join FEC graduate Mengchen at the Cannes Film Festival. Here she blogs about the experience.
Cannes Film Festival Report
This is my first time to Cannes Film Festival, which I dreamed of going to. Obviously, it’s an unforgettable experience. The lovely weather, large number of films, booming film market, countless parties and red carpet steps, all these things left me a deep impression.
During these 12 days, filmmakers, reporters, buyers, sellers from all over the world were gathered in this small town to enjoy the film carnival. I worked at China Film Foundation Pavilion in International Village which is an exhibition space and a meeting point for all countries producing films. China Film Foundation Pavilion is organised by China Film Foundation-Wu Tianming Film Fund for Young Talents in partnership with Movie View. It hosted panel discussions, conferences and meetings about film festival and Chinese film industry, including Chinese Film Market, Co-production Strategies and Mutual Investments, Navigating the Festival Circuit, International Film Funds: Talents Oriented Strategy, New Talents and Marketing: Young Producers Projects and Investments in Movies and Entertainment Companies in China: How It Works. In particular, I would like to talk about the Navigating the Festival Circuit which provided an overview of the cultural, economic and social role of the film festivals. This panel discussion invited the programmers and directors from various international film festivals like Sundance Film Festival, HKIFF, TIFF, and BIFF. They talked about different types of the festivals and their film selection, whether premiere is really such important or not, how to balance personal taste, audience tastes, and other element.
Cannes Film Festival is a typical “business festival”. The film market is the core of the festival. Meanwhile, Marché du Film is the world’s leading market. For me, the film is still the most attractive part of the festival. There is no doubt that Cannes Film Festival gathers a very large number of the best films of the whole year. And luckily, you can see these films in advance. But Cannes Film Festival is an event for film professionals only. So all films are not available for the public but opened just for the registered members. Another interesting point of Cannes is that it’s hierarchical. In Cannes, your badge is your rank. It’s a caste system and what the colour of your badge says about you. Press, market and festival badge have different priorities. Every screening, hours before the screening, the line of the festival and market badge was long. People with blue press badge just needed to wait a short time, then, the pink and white badges were much shorter and enjoyed the prime seats.
At last, giving a little tips. As film students, we can apply the festival badge by ourselves so that we can go to the market, international village and some events. While this kind of badge can’t request the invitation ticket for the competition and hons completion screenings in Lumiere theatre (the main cinema with red carpet), but audiences can queue the Last Minute for theses film and also for most of other screenings.
FECers Becky Padley (2015) and Charline Foch (2016) setting up for Hidden Door. Looking fanbloodygreat.
FEC students Sonja Baksa and Jennie Shearman (2016) have been working with artist Isabella Rocamora as she prepares her upcoming exhibition. It’s been a fantastic opportunity for them to get to grips with the level of detail, focus and energy needed for such complex and intriguing work. It opens next week and we look forward to it very much. IMAGING FAITH
SCIENNES GALLERIES, SUMMERHALL
26 May – 13 July 2016
Tue – Sun 11.00 – 18.00
Private View: 25 May (19.00 – 21.00)
1, Summerhall, Edinburgh EH9 1PL
“A uniquely profound and moving comment on timely aspects of the human condition… Mesmerizing” Now Magazine, Toronto
Imaging Faith centres on Faith, a film triptych which intimately observes the act of worship of the three monotheistic religions in Jerusalem. Set in the wilderness of the Holy Land – the historically significant landscapes of the Judean desert, far from the built and contested territories – an Orthodox Jew (Cohen descent), a Greek Orthodox Christian (Father, Church of Nativity) and a Sunni Muslim (Quran reader, Al Aqsa Mosque) perform their morning prayers. In time, their synchronous action reveals an uncanny similarity of inner state and gestural intention. Questioning segregation while celebrating difference, Faith contemplates issues of human belief, inviting reflection on one of the most tragic, world resonating conflicts that persist in this new century.
In the adjoining gallery a series of still images depict Rocamora’s experience of Jerusalem, culturally and politically contextualising the film triptych. A dedicated reading room provides a contemplative space in which contemporary thinkers (historians, theologians and philosophers, including Gil Anidjar, Mark Cauchi, Victoria Rocamora and Simon Critchley) have been invited to curate passages from seminal texts in response to the themes of the exhibition.
Isabel Rocamora is a British-Spanish artist whose films have been widely awarded and exhibited internationally. Recent shows include the Koffler Gallery, Toronto (solo); CCC Palazzo Strozzi, Florence; the National Museum of Photography, Copenhagen and the Bologna Museum of Modern Art. Imaging Faith presents the UK premiere of this new body of work by the Edinburgh-based artist as well as the first exhibition of her work in Scotland.
Curated by Holly Knox Yeoman.
Becky Padley (2015) is organising and programming films for the Hidden Door Festival this year and doing stellar work. Not only does the festival look utterly brilliant but she’s created the opportunity for a number of current FEC students to curate and deliver events. Good on ya Becky. I’m so looking forward to it.
Billie Phipps Tyndall (2015) having moved Bangkok is now involved in the Bankok Edge Festival and plans to help organise a short film competition for the next edition, whilst teaching primary school. Congratulations Billie! We can’t wait to hear more about it.
Also, Mengchen Wen is in Cannes working at the China Film Foundation Pavilion – International Village, Pantiero side n° 216.Visit them from May 11th to 22th. She has asked current FEC student Fan Yije to help her out. How exciting and we look forward to the reports on Fan’s return.
Jane Sillars, programme director of Film, Exhibition & Curation (Job-share with Susan Kemp) blogs about Antonia Bird screening.
So, just back from London Town to see the documentary on Antonia Bird premiere at the National Film Theatre.
The culmination of two year’s intensive research and filming, the documentary charts the development of Bird’s career; her moves from theatre to television and to film in the UK and in Hollywood; her politically motivated approach to film-making and to storytelling; her gifts in working with performers; and her particular blend of highly emotive and engaged social critique. The documentary represents an astonishing achievement not least as, at the time of Bird’s death three years ago, there was almost nothing about her work in the public domain, and what little there was incomplete and often wrong.
Susan Kemp’s film forms part of a broader project she’s been involved in with film maker Mark Cousins (a close friend and collaborator of Bird’s) and producers Mary Bell and Adam Dawtrey, aiming to document Bird’s legacy and find the space her work deserves with audiences and within our understanding of British film and of the contribution of often neglected women authors. The screening launched a season of Bird’s films ‘The Woman Who Kicked Down Doors’ curated by the BFI which recognises her as a trailblazing artist. The BBC who funded much of Bird’s work will also screen Susan’s film on May 22nd.
Given how little material there has been available on Bird and her work, one of the most notable elements of the film is its success in uncovering, analysing and opening up her motivations, her aesthetics, and her career trajectory – a career path that, as the film, shows was diverse, divergent and seldom straightforward.
In the panel discussion afterwards Susan talked about the importance of the flexibility brought as a solo film-maker. This enabled her to spend an extended research and development period tracking down sources and potential interviewees as well as immersing herself in Bird’s work and archive. Light weight film equipment and Susan’s skills in self-shooting meant that she was able to record material across the duration of this process. (I say light-weight but I well remember the many Wednesday afternoons where Susan would shoulder a massive rucksack, pick up her tripod, and stride womanfully off to Waverley for her second shift.) In an audience at the South Bank largely made of film-makers there was both appreciation and awe of the scale of this endeavour. (Appreciation is very much due too to Lauren Clarke, FEC graduate who worked across the project with Susan. It was great to see Lauren and family at the screening – enjoying the first onscreen credit for Lauren but I suspect very much not the last.)
The benefits of this openness of approach can be seen on screen. Susan’s interviews captures both spontaneity and immediacy from her respondents, rather than replicating the sometimes slightly laboured feel we’ve all picked up from reminiscences shared first with researchers and producers, then reproduced on cue for camera. It also powerfully catches at the sense of loss felt by the many people who worked with Antonia; the loss of an individual loved by many and also the loss of a distinctive and penetrating voice.
The admiration Bird evoked in her collaborators is clear in the documentary and was also much in evidence in the attendance on Thursday. In the green room beforehand the warmth and affection felt for Antonia was palpable. As well as enjoying earwigging in to the stories and memories exchanged between actors, composers, producers and writers there, for the first time I had a proper sense of the various kinds of responsibility attaching to a film like this. Throughout the project Susan has been determined to do proper justice to Antonia Bird’s life and work as well as facing head on some of the really complex questions as to why in her career Bird did not always manage to make the work she wanted to, and why the work she did make has been so neglected. With so many key players crammed into a small, hot space (the NFT green room has a freaky mirrored ceiling like something out of dodgy 70s ‘arthouse’ erotica) I got a real feel for what a tough audience this might prove to be. Susan says that when, early on in the documentary, cheers and applause greeted the cleverly sourced archive of a young and bushy brown bearded Jeremy Corbyn she knew she was going to be alright.
And she and her film were a lot more than alright. One highlight for me was Anita Dobson (the legendary Angie in EastEnders) commenting from the platform “I don’t think I’ve been so moved by a documentary about someone’s work ever”. This was followed by responses from the floor hailing the film as ‘profound’, ‘necessary’ and ‘important’. The look of the film was much admired with one or two smarty pants picking up the way its form draws on Bird’s preference for the big close up and the drama of the human face in action.
Speakers were especially taken with how effectively the film addresses the thorny question of the under-representation of women directors, a debate coming to boiling point in Hollywood and in relation to UK film just last week with the Directors UK report
There were also moving stories from the floor of the unrecorded contributions Bird made to the work of many others, actors turned directors, and younger women directors, reinforcing two key strands within Susan’s film – film authorship as something that is always collaborative, often provisional, and made up of visible and invisible elements; and also demonstrating how Bird’s politics of engagement and solidarity found many expressions. All in all it was a very uplifting evening, celebrating an extraordinary woman and her body of work, and showing the capacity of documentary film at its best to work as archive, as analyst, and as catalyst.
And we can all get a chance to see it soon – TX BBC Four Sunday 22nd May 2100.
A fantastic programme of shorts intercut with interviews at the Filmhouse on Friday and Saturday. FECers 2016 are totally making the most of their opportunities.Thanks so much to Filmhouse and Nigel Chipps for giving them this chance. Great audiences and we hope it will do more. More pics PRESENT LOVE
Thanks so much to the Glasgow Film Festival 2016 who provided an opportunity for this year’s students to really get to know what it’s all about. They created and delivered a fantastic event surveillancetoselfie.com
and all the students and audiences alike thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Just brilliant.