Saturday, 12 February 2011

SBFF - Worst Film Festival Ever?

Probably not, but the documentary made by Americans Steve Rosen and Terri DeBono of their experiences at the Swansea Bay Film Festival 2010 (last May), doesn't do it any favours.

These guys travelled over 6,000 miles to attend the 'Festival' because thay had been nominated for an award for their documentary Boyhood Shadows - "I swore I'd never tell", which was about child abuse. I know that documentaries can be edited so that only the filmmaker's persepctive is highlighted but this really makes you wonder what the founding director (and apparent owner of the Festival) - Binda Singh - was really more concerned about. The Festival had no catalogue, no hard time slots, just a running order: they just started films at one point during the day and a film was shown was it was shown. The basic list of the films didn't even include a synopsis of what the film was about - just the title and running time. To make it worse: the schedule kept changing. It certainly looked as if he was more concerned about just getting through, rather than the people's work which made the Festival possible.

One comment that was made was that it was (apparently) down to the filmmakers to find an audience for their film, but without a definite time slot how could they do that? And more importantly, why should they have to? Isn't that down to promotional material from the organisers?

It's a shame that Mr Singh has such an apparent disregard for filmmakers and their efforts. It doesn't matter how far they travel (although the longer the distance the worse it seems for them) as long as the Festival is well organised and promoted. If the audience is pretty much only made up of other filmmakers and they may not know even what the film is about before the screening starts, then it's a pretty poor showing from a Festival organiser's point of view.

It did seem that the SBFF organisers may have been more concerned with profit over presentation. The 2011 Festival runs May 7th -15th and it'll be interesting to hear what experiences filmmakers have of this one.

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