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BLOG: Heading into Summer with British Council Film

Emma Davie & Morag McKinnon's I Am Breathing screened in Abu Dhabi this month

May/June 2013

As the dust settles on Cannes it’s looking like another busy month for British Council Film with a full calendar of events and activity at home and abroad.

Documentary Delegates
We’re delighted to continue our partnership with Sheffield Doc/Fest – the UK’s premiere documentary showcase – where we’ll be joined by 32 international delegates from Russia, Armenia, India, South Africa, South Sudan, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and UAE. Our Doc/Fest delegation includes directors, producers, programmers and promoters as well as 10 talented interactive/digital student media-makers from the ESAV school in Marrakech who will be connecting with Cross-Platform transmedia experts. Other delegates include producers pitching projects at MeetMarket and the brilliant Avijit Mukul Kishore who travels from India to present his feature To Let The World In during the festival’s Global Encounters strand.

Our Sheffield delegation follows hot on the heels of a further group of documentary visitors from South Africa and India who join us this week in London for Good Pitch which brings together filmmakers with NGOs, foundations, philanthropists, brands and media around leading social issues. The results of their fact-finding trip will be seen over the coming year when the participants head home to stage their own events:  Good Pitch Johannesburg (Sept 2013) and Good Pitch Mumbai (Feb 2014).

Animated Indonesia
Film Adviser Gary Thomas is just back from Indonesia following on from the recently signed MOU between UK/Indonesia promoting the Creative Industries. Gary spent a week with British Council colleagues meeting a vast range of film and animation organisations and professionals drawn from across production, documentary, festivals, training, higher education, archive, academia, broadcasting, telecoms and exhibition – both commercial and arthouse. As our in-house animation expert (a role he twins with being Associate Director at Animate Projects) Gary also staged a masterclass in UK animation as part of a roadshow for HelloFest, whose annual Anima Expo of screenings, Cosplay and market attracts an audience of tens of thousands.

To Cuba for Cámara Chica
As Gary touched down in London, his colleague Will Massa was on the tarmac en route to Cuba to accompany colleagues from young filmmaker organisation First Light to stage Cámara Chica, a series of seven workshops taking place in six provinces of Cuba, in partnership with the Cuban Film School. The ambitious project is designed to train staff in community centres across the island in the techniques needed to introduce children and young people to filmmaking. Using basic equipment, the young people will learn to create their own story and develop it into a script over five days, learning all the production techniques they need to create their film, and working alongside the professionals who will guide them through the process through to edit. Once complete, the films will be exhibited in each of the project locations, culminating in a community screening and celebration. You can follow the project’s progress (despite some erratic wifi) @British_Film #firstlightcuba

Abu Dhabi - Perspectives and Retrospectives
We cemented a new partnership with Abu Dhabi Film Festival having just finished screening a week-long programme of documentaries from the UK and MENA as a ‘Documentary Series’ off-shoot of the Autumn festival exploring dialogue between the UK and Arab world.  UK titles included Kim Longinotto’s Divorce, Iranian Style , the award-winning How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr Foster, Scottish Documentary Institute's (SDI) I Am Breathing, Town of Runners and 2013 Oscar winner Searching For Sugarman.  The programme included a workshop on Creative Documentary from the SDI’s Noe Mendelle, a series of audience discussions lead by critic Ian Hadyn Smith and a film criticism competition which scooped Wasan Mukluf the first prize of a trip to join Sheffield Doc/Fest.

Coming Up
In the next few weeks, we’re getting ready to stage a full programme at Edinburgh International Film Festival; we’ll be welcoming the Festival Selector teams from Toronto International Film Festival, and Busan International Film Festival to London; we'll be encouraging submissions to our Big Dance Shorts Brazil short film commission; we’re co-hosting ShortSighted conferences in Glasgow and London exploring how short filmmakers find international audiences; we'll be presenting all nine of the silent Hitchcock films recently restored by the BFI with live accompaniment as a highlight of the Shanghai International Film Festival; and we’re heading the jury for the Open City Doc Fest.

And then we'll need a holiday...