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From Dave’s Desk
March 2018

Great times and good value in Blansko

The cinema in Blansko.

Register now for UNICA 2018 !

It will be at Blansko in the Czech Republic from 1st to 9th September. There is lots of information starting here. The festival week offers excellent value for money, but watch out: the price of a Congress Card (ticket) goes up by €25 on 1st May.

Use the form on www.unica2018.cz to register. By return email comes a list of your choices for you to check. Some days later you will get an invoice to be paid in Euros. If your country does not use Euros, I recommend www.transferwise.com as a cheap way to send the money.

The Czechs offer door-to-door service between the suggested hotels and the cinema. They are also organising buses from Brno and Vienna airports, which will whisk you quickly and easily to Blansko. Buses take you back to those airports after breakfast on Sunday 9th.

Competition Changes

At committee meetings in Zurich and Bratislava, we discussed many matters raised in the 2017 General Assembly, and comments received after the Congress.

People to whom the contest is very important, will be interested to know that:

  1. In internal meetings each jury works as it chooses. Every film will be discussed in public during the week, but jurors will no longer be asked to keep comments calm and mild!
  2. These are first impressions. They may not indicate how jury members will evaluate a film at the end of the week, after they have seen all the submissions.
  3. The jury will select about a quarter of the films to receive a Diploma of Honour. These will be discussed in public on the last Saturday morning. Then the jury will vote in public to decide which films should get higher awards. The majority required to move to Bronze and to Silver level will be 3:2. The majority required to move to Gold level will be 4:1.

Change makes us uncomfortable – at least for a year or two. Some people want to make UNICA Congress short enough, so that visitors need only take a week off from work or family duties. Other people like things as they are. We are reluctant to alienate our core supporters, yet we recognise that those regular enthusiasts are fewer in number each year.

We need young film makers

If UNICA is to survive, we need new supporters. After years of half-hearted attempts to interest young authors, we are trying more seriously. We urge each National Organisation to send authors under 25, who are not attending a film school, to take part in the Young UNICA Workshop.

At Blansko the theme is animation. One young author from each of our Member Organisations will get a free Congress Card, free accommodation and free meals as well as the workshop tuition – whether or not that author has a film in their national programme.


Do you hear “GDPR” being muttered?

It stands for General Data Protection Regulation and it worries people. It takes effect on 25th May 2018 throughout the European Union. It also applies to anyone or any organisation, which deals with people in the EU. Its aim is to preserve our privacy. Not just marketing companies or charities with a mailing list of millions must comply: so must clubs with a handful of members.

If you have a collection of personal information (emails / postal addresses / phone numbers for example) you must be able to prove, that the people concerned know:

  • what you will use the data for
  • how long you will keep it and
  • how they can change it or have it deleted.

But above all those people must clearly give you informed consent to hold their details. For a small club that may be a signature on a form. On a website it may be an empty checkbox which they tick, or a space there they type “I understand and agree.”

You must protect that data. You cannot give, sell or rent it to anyone else unless the people concerned have given their permission. You must take reasonable steps to prevent the data being stolen. You must not store the data online in a place, which does not have the same degree of privacy regulation. Be careful if you use “cloud storage” – which is often hosted on computers in the USA, a country whose privacy rules are not good enough.

After a year or two we will all have a better understanding of what is required. The courts will interpret the law. Perhaps sensible exceptions will be made for our sort of use. Until then do your best to obey the law.

There are no exceptions for small groups, for charities or non-profit organisations.

You may never assume, that someone has given consent for you to hold their personal information. People have to give you that consent explicitly.

And you cannot retain information “just in case”.

A Tip: Create impersonal email contacts for your club and National Organisation: info.thisclub@gmail.com, president.nationalorganisation@gmx.com and so on.
GDPR only applies to “natural persons”.

Quo Vadis ?

The UNICA Congress travels from country to country:

  • 2018 we go to Blansko in the Czech Republic
  • 2019 we go to Zeist in the Netherlands
  • 2020 we go to Birmingham in Britain.
Map showing Blansko, Zeist and Birmingham.

Who wants to bid for 2021?

What about a country where prices are lower? What about one of the Nordic lands – despite their prices?


If you are not sure what is involved, help is at hand. The committee is finishing off and translating a long-needed Handbook about running a UNICA Congress. It indicates what is essential, what is optional and what is nice to have. The main work of assembling this book has been done by Vice-President, Bernhard Lindner.

Most Congresses are driven by the enthusiasm and energy of just one or two people. They gather a team, who will help, especially during the week of the festival. There is no need to compete with other Congresses. A modest event need not cost a fortune. So long as we get together and we see the films … all else is vanity!

Who should guide UNICA to the future ?

In 2018 the entire committee stands for election. The delegates from our member National Organisations elect:

  • one President
  • one or two Vice-Presidents
  • one Secretary-General
  • one Treasurer
  • at least three and at most seven advisers.

Do you wish to stand for election? Do you know someone who should? Ask your National Organisation to make the nomination. A National Organisation may nominate as many candidates as it wishes.

Once they are elected committee members do not represent their country. They make decisions in the best interests of the UNICA. The committee meets twice a year often in central Europe for a weekend. That means travel on Friday afternoon and return on Sunday afternoon. They also meet behind the scenes during the UNICA Congress. The work involves reading and sometimes writing papers between meetings, as well as tackling a specific task for the UNICA. Meetings use the UNICA languages of English, French and German. There is a contribution to travel costs of €100 per meeting, which is less than the typical travel and accommodation costs involved.

But … you enjoy the company of some of the brightest and most enthusiastic people in UNICA. You help to guide the direction of our organisation. You make possible the future of UNICA.

We asked National Organisations to let us know their nominations by 14th April as a courtesy, but there is no absolute deadline.

Let's raise a glass together in Blansko

The Czechs are renowned for fine beers – and one of the recommended hotels is actually in a brewery – but while you are in Blansko, try the country’s best strong spirit: Becherovka.
The impressive Moravian Karst landscape, the spectacular cave systems, the beautiful churches, dramatic castles and fascinating museums are well worth seeing. The films will be challenging and inspiring. Our fellow film-enthusiasts will be great company. But that alcoholic spirit is a secret ingredient, which makes everything taste even better. If you do not drink alcohol, then Kofola is the Czech soft drink of choice: subtler than Coke or Pepsi, it is refreshing and cheap.


Portrait of Dave Watterson.

- Dave Watterson,
   President of l'UNICA
   Bath, United Kingdom
   March 2018