Other events on a direct human level have made us very sad.
On 14 January 2014, we heard news of the death of our good and long-time friend Stanislaw Puls, who fell asleep at the age of 84 years in his hometown of Bydgoszcz in Poland. Stani, as we called him lovingly, for 25 years until his death was a member of the committee, of which 10 were as Vice-President between 1984 and 1994. He is sorely missed. To Jaga his wife and his son Dariusz, we extend our deepest sympathy. At his funeral Wolfgang Freier represented our committee, for which we thank him very much indeed.
As if that were not enough we received on 27 July 2014, news of the death of Werner, known as Gecko, Kaufmann, in his city of Frauenfeld in Switzerland. Gecko was treasurer of UNICA for 26 years: from 1964-1967 and from 1974-1998. On his retirement he was rightly awarded an honorary membership of UNICA. In him we lost a man who with his dry and sometimes biting humour has delighted many generations of filmmakers. His wife preceded him in death. I would like to express our condolences to his son, Teddy.
At this point I invite you to observe a minute’s silence in memory of our dear, departed friends.
[Delegates stood in silent tribute.]
Another man from our organisation, who has proved of great service for many years and fortunately is still with us, deserves recognition today. Arie de Jong handed over the roles of our webmaster (which he had held since 2003) and as the editor of Electronic UNICA News (which he ran since 2009) to other hands, specifically Dave Watterson.
Arie was also and primarily for 9 years between 1994 and 2003, the Secretary General of UNICA. We have all fully understood his reasons for gradually withdrawing from these responsibilities in order to look after his wife, Ella, even better. We are very deeply in his debt. The service he rendered and his sense of duty are quite remarkable.
In any case, we hope that we can continue to call on his knowledge and experience for many years in the future.
The Committee unanimously considers that in respect of the outstanding service they have rendered over decades in senior positions within our organisation, both Stani Puls (posthumously) and Arie de Jong should receive an honorary membership of UNICA. Therefore I ask you, ladies and gentlemen delegates to approve this proposal by acclamation.
[Unanimous applause by all present.]
I do not wish to close without mentioning some positive news. This refers to the return to our ranks of Iran and Hungary, as well as (just mentioned) the hope that soon Morocco, Moldova, as well as Australia will officially apply for membership. My thanks go to those who have been campaigning for new applications, such as Fred Graber in Morocco, Serge Michel in Australia, Emil Mateias for Moldova, but without forgetting Horst Hubbauer who made possible the return of Hungary as well as Hans Schober for his role in terms of Iran.
As can be seen, ladies and gentlemen, delegates, dear friends, in UNICA – as everywhere else – you cannot do without people who are fully committed to the organisation and thus ensure that it not only survives but is also able to grow and to attract many enthusiasts in new countries to our objectives and our events.
Once again I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to Zuzana who, with a very small team, has achieved something great.
Finally I am sure that after this meeting, our Russian friends will make an enthusiastic presentation to encourage a large number of us to come to their legendary city of St Petersburg, which is in truth the heart of old Russia, where we will celebrate the 77th UNICA congress and festival on the banks of the Neva.
- Georges Fondeur
(Translation by Dave Watterson)