Dear delegates, allow me to begin my report with an expression of my gratitude to Nina Zaitseva, the President of the Congress, not only for her introductory and welcoming words, but also and in particular for the warm hospitality and flair she displayed when preparing the event with the organising committee, which has been perceived so far as very positive by all participants here in St. Petersburg.
Also allow me to complement this report with a kind of personal assessment – in abridged form – of my term-of-office - as UNICA president .
This adventure began 6 years ago - almost to the day – and has been a cause of surprise because, not only of its form, but also the intensity of the task. At that time, after completing a checkered career with an erratic alternation of hot and cold, harsh and friendly generated at the highest level of Administration, I thought that I was well-equipped to deal any time with problems of any kind. Indeed I believed that the armour I had developed was as thick as that of a professional politician, providing protection against any attack, from inside or outside.
Now I realise that, when I applied for this position, I had underestimated the difficulty of the task as UNICA President, with many challenges of all sorts. Fortunately I could rely in the first few years on the unconditional and active support offered by the experienced members of the Committee. I could also consider myself because I had the opportunity to gain precious experience after 2007 after being elected as an Advisor in the Committee and thus have a better understanding of the way both the institution and the power relations worked.
The first few years proceeded relatively smoothly and, in cooperation with the federations, various issues could be addressed and resolved. I refer here essentially to the revision or updating of the Statutes, the annual membership fees and the screening time allotted to the individual federations in this adapted and redefined.
An objective that I was eager to enter my personal record, namely
the participation of fresh professional film-makers in our
competitions, could also be transposed at the time.
The second term-of-office mandate was somewhat less harmonious, even if it offered some glorious highlights such as the celebration of a Jubilee edition in Fieberbrunn in-2013.
A new colleague from Armenia had been elected in Roussé as a committee member, who stepped up and presented himself as the great reformer of UNICA willing to change everything and stand up for expansion on all continents and a thorough renewal of the structure of our union. An opinion poll among the federations showed that only 2 of them (out of 32) gave support to the radical views of this gentlemen. These declarations of intent – some of them being laudable - were unfortunately accompanied by a wave of intrigues and malevolence, several committee members were slandered and the subject of accusations, including embezzlement, fraud and document forgery. As he refused to apologize for this, we decided unanimously that he would henceforth – that is beginning in the Summer of 2013 – no longer be invited to attend our meetings and receive the relevant documents.
The gap between this gentleman and the other Committee members reached a climax when, in his capacity as President of the Armenian Federation, he called for a boycott of the UNICA 2014 Congress and called at the same time the General Assembly to dismiss the current committee and immediately hold new elections.
We owe it to you, dear delegates, that it was possible to reject unambiguously the plans fomented by this gentleman. His dream of becoming the next UNICA President was thus destroyed. As a result and following the above-mentioned dismissals and the defeat he could expect in a vote, he withdrew his candidature. Finally, and due to his own decision, Armenia will again boycott the UNICA Congress in St. Petersburg … much to the detriment of the filmmakers in his country.
Photos: Julia Obraztsova.