The films of the BFFS Conference – reactions, notes and how to screen them

The BFFS National Conference is over and what a fantastic weekend it was! As a follow-up to last week’s post about the films we were screening at the conference I’m going to take a quick look at: why we screened the films we did;  what the reactions to the films were, and booking information for those who want to screen the titles in their venue.

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How we pick the films

The films screened at the National Conference are selected to serve several purposes. On the one hand we try to preview forthcoming titles that gives community cinema programmers the opportunity to preview titles ahead of release to help with programming. We also try to highlight Booking Scheme titles – this isn’t a strict rule but for the most part we will usually screen a majority of our own titles.

Then there is the consideration of supporting the film with extra content – this might be a Q&A or a discussion – and we always provide programme notes for each film that includes detailed information about the film as well as words from the filmmakers talking about the making of the film.

Finally we try to pick films that we know are suited to the community sector and which could be overlooked otherwise. So you can always expect documentaries, independent and international cinema as well as short films.

So how did we pick this year’s titles? (click the links to view our programme notes)

Blackfish – Certainly one the year’s best documentaries, Blackfish is a devastating piece of work exposing the the inherent cruelty of keeping killer whales in captivity. It has a tremendous impact raising awareness of these animals’ plights and in engaging viewers to reconsider their views towards places like Seaworld. It has also sparked a wide debate and has seen rebuttals from Seaworld following its release, all of which have benn challenged by the filmmakers.

We were joined for this screening by Patrick Hurley, Distribution Manager at Dogwoof, for a Q&A about the reactions to the film from Seaworld, campaigning organisations and even Pixar, who have altered the plot of the forthcoming Finding Nemo sequel as a result of Blackfish.

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Gloria Gloria is the latest film to be released by Network Releasing, one of our partner distributors, and like No and Out in the Dark before it Network Releasing have made the film available to BFFS Members and Associates as part of an early release window. The screening thus helped allowed us to take advantage of this opportunity and promote it to the membership. The film was also introduced by Jaq Chell, BFFS Operations Manager.

Jaq talked about the legacy of No which we screened as a ‘secret film’ at last year’s conference. No was a huge success for BFFS and has accumulated the most bookings for any BFFS Booking Scheme title. A hugely important film that  we were thrilled to help get this film seen by new audiences. Likewise, Jaq explained the importance of Gloria both as Chilean film taking a look at contemporary life in the capital Santiago and as a film anchored around a strong female character, richly detailed and stunningly performed. The lack of strong female characters in mainstream film is well noted but Jaq reinforced the fact with a statistic that only 11% of characters in major films last year were female. It is vital then that films that do focus on independent and unique female characters are seen and that is one of the things that really drew us to Gloria. 

Like Father, Like Son – Following the success of I Wish, the most recent film from Hirokazu Kore-eda, we were excited to be able to preview another of his films to delegates. Kore-eda is one of the most consistent directors who has created a string of rich, powerful and human dramas – usually centred around the theme of family. His latest is a delightful and warm-hearted drama that has been picking up buzz since it premièred at Canned Film Festival and won the admiration of Steven Spielberg and the rest of the jury.

We were fortunate to be able to get Alexander Jacoby, a lecturer in contemporary Japanese cinema at Oxford Brookes University to give a talk covering Kore-eda’s career, comparisons with legendary filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu and Kore-eda’s perception of the modern Japanese family. In contemporary Japan families usually only have one child and there is a risk of children being withdrawn due to a lack of social interaction – apart from through technology. Kore-eda’s films, although focused on the same themes and utilising similar motifs and reference points as Ozu’s, offer their own perspective and a rejection of nostalgic perceptions of the past. Jacoby also discussed how Like Father, Like Son examines the nature of family relationships and argues that blood ties as the traditional basis of a family unit is not as important as the relationships that we build up. 

The Artist and the Model – The latest film from Oscar-winning director Fernando Trueba, The Artist and the Model is a brand new release from Axiom Films and is a moving portrait of an aging sculptor drawn reinvigorated by his love of art when a fugitive from the Spanish Civil War takes refuge in his studio. It is a film that covers the great themes of life – art, love, death. It is centred on a tremendous performance from the great Jean Rochefort.

Following the film BFFS volunteer and Film Unit Acting Chair Gemma Bird led a lively discussion about the film which debated: whether the sexual content was at odds with the rest of the film; whether or not the war should have played a bigger part in the film, or if the concentration on art was more relevant; the cinematography of the film; and the nature of the characters.

Encounters Film Festival 2012 Award Winners Collection

We screened five of the short films included in this collection which covered an astonishing mix of styles and subject including stop-motion animatio in the form of the Oscar nominated Head over Heels, political satire in On This Island and a darkly humorous Icelandic short about a family evicted from their house and forced to live in a box on the roof of a tower block in When Rabbits Fly. 

Audience Reactions

For all the films screened at the National Conference we take a reaction score from the audience. We take a rating from A – E and then workout an overall percentage by scoring each rating. These are the reaction scores for this weekends films:

Blackfish – 88.6%
Encounters Short Films – 66.6%
Gloria – 69.7%
Like Father, Like Son – 88.6%
The Artist and the Model – 72.3%

All of the films received great scores with Blackfish and Like Father, Like Son sharing the highest score. The scoring categories are:
A- Excellent
B- Very Good
C- Good
D – Average
E- Poor

How to screen the films

If you are interested in screening any of these titles the booking information follows:

Blackfish

Dogwoof Popup Cinema: DCP available now | Popup@dogwoof.com | 020 7831 7252
BFFS Booking Scheme: DVD/Blu-ray (Screen from 16 November) | rich.bffs@gmail.com | 01142 210314

Gloria

Network Releasing: DCP | Martin Myers | martin@miracle63.freeserve.co.uk | 07836 360343
BFFS Booking Scheme: DVD (Screen from 22 November) | rich.bffs@gmail.com | 0114 2210314

Like Father, Like Son

Verve Pictures: DCP (on release from 18 October) |  sarah@vervepictures.co.uk | 020 7436 8001
Verve Pictures: DVD/Blu-ray (screen from January 2014) | angus@vervepictures.oc.uk | 020 7436 8001

The Artist and the Model

Axiom Films: DCP available now | Daniel@axiomfilms.co.uk | 020 7243 3111
BFFS Booking Scheme: DVD/Blu-Ray (date TBC) | rich.bffs@gmail.com | 01142 210314

Encounters Short film Collection

BFFS: DVD | rich.bffs@gmail.com | 01142 210314
More information here