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Thursday, 29 November 2007


At the British Independent Film Awards

My how the event has grown. What used to be an upstart to the Baftas in the manner of the Independent Spirit Awards bearding the Oscars, the Bifas now constitute a very glitzy night out for celeb-spotters and freeloaders. The bash at the London Roundhouse was very well staged and even the food was good.

As Daniel Craig’s citation for the Variety Award played in speech and on the big screens, it was heart-warming to see the young man I had cast when directing the BBC’s Our Friends In The North scale the heights.

We were up for the Raindance Award, which is given to a film that played to a sellout screening at the Raindance festival and which had been against all the odds on a low budget. We lost to The Inheritance, made by a guy scarcely out of his teens who reminded me of myself 30 years ago, turning out a film on a sixpence with bags of chutzpah.

Well, after some years in awards wilderness it was good to be back at the table!

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Warsaw International Jewish Film Festival November 2007

Warsaw - November 2007

Did you hear the one about the East European capital with scarcely any Jews, but two rival Jewish film festivals? That would be Warsaw.

Both invited my film on an exclusive basis, offering travel, hospitality for me and a guest etc.

By the time my wife and I arrive at the A festival, it has been all but crushed by budget cuts forced through litigation with the B Festival. The former B festival seems to have walked off with the state funding. Our host event now seems to be diving to Z status as our “hotel invitation” reverts to a futon bed on the floor of a flat belong to the harassed fest director’s girlfriend, in the outskirts of Warsaw. The festival cannot even afford to ship 35mm prints, with the result that films are shown in awful quality off DVD. I feel very sorry for them. And for us: Z-land for a week, with vouchers just for a sandwich and a coffee a day. It’s grim out East. Leaving the closing night dinner to which we were all specifically invited, we are all asked to pay our (hefty) share.

But as the first winter snow comes down, something magic began to happen. I encounter the most amazing band of Polish people who are not Jewish but who are helping to keep alive the flame of Jewish culture all but extinguished by Nazism and Communism. See my newspaper article in the JC

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Raindance Film Festival (Best Documentary Nomination)

The UK Premiere of the film, on 1st October 2007, was a packed event at the Trocadero, presented, courtesy of Raindance, in High Definition format. Having been guilty of not paying attention to Britain’s largest indie event, I admire the low-budget ethos and enthusiasm with which it is run.

James Mullighan, Creative Director of Shooting People, conducts the Q&A with me which you can see in podcast form here – scroll down for various items on the film and its Raindance Q&A. Discovering the film for himself as we have neither distributor nor or publicist, James becomes one of the film’s champions, helping to put the word out on Shooting People via the above podcast page and other forums, and going on to provide valuable advice in how to release the film ourselves. Which we proceed to do!

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