This is enough for this affair at that point, even if there is still much to say on this subject.
The second thunderclap occurred during the anniversary edition of our Congress in Fieberbrunn in 2013 when a filmmaker was awarded a prize for a film which he had copied close to 100% from an international television production screened in 6 parts in 2004. This monstrous attempt at deception came to light thanks to the attention of a French participant.
This gave rise to one of the worst crises affecting our Committee, both inside and outside. This has been an object of endless debating, both oral and written, and even regional and national media dealt extensively with the case, so that there is no need to spend more time getting into the detail of this affair.
It is only by means of great efforts that it was possible to avert
a case being brought to court trial by the producers of the
television series, with unpredictable consequences for the
author, his federation and also our Union, considering that
UNICA assumes full liability for the organisation of the annual
festival. Fortunately – and at the very last minute in this specific
case – an out-of-court settlement was arranged. This very sensitive
matter imposed a severe strain on the cohesion of the
committee, due to the various forms of collateral damage caused and
the way to proceed and solve the problem and move forward in this
matter. For the most part, however, good common sense prevailed at
the end of the day.
It is hard to establish how many times such plagiarism scandals and similar equally shameful incidents occurred in the past: anyway we cannot exclude them a priori. This event has nonetheless given rise in myself and the other members of the committee to such sentiments as loss of faith and trust in the integrity of individuals, whether filmmakers or persons in charge in the various federations.
Consequently our latest meetings have been working hard on the quest for solutions to avoid such incidents in the future, taking preventive action, and should such offences occur again, applying appropriate sanctions.
It cannot be tolerated that a national federation seeks to gain an advantage by concealing that a filmmaker called on professionals, or lied about their age, or does not declare the true category the film belongs to (whether Jeunesse, Film school or Young professional). It cannot be tolerated either that an author uses without permission somebody else's shots or infringes on music copyright.
Being aware that our annual film festival, its procedures and rules and also the films entered for the competition and their evaluation by the jury, should be submitted to a deep-going analysis, we decided on the occasion of our autumn 2014 meeting in Esslingen to co-opt Bernhard Lindner, a specialist in competition and jury questions, as a member of our Committee and asked him to make it a priority and work on this issue in close cooperation with Dave Watterson and Rolf Leuenberger.
The decisions made during this year's Committee meeting in the Romanian city of Suceava, both in terms of regulations applying to our annual festivals, and the registration form for the films in the national programmes, have no other purpose than ensuring more awareness, honesty, transparency and thus restoring confidence for the benefit of all the person involved.
As a jurist lawyer, with an acute sense of justice and righteousness, the above mentioned events have deeply affected me and left lasting traces.
Contrary to all these hardships, what is left lingering at the end of a term-of-office is - thank God - clearly outweighed by positive impressions and experiences. I refer here to the collegial atmosphere and even the amicable cooperation that has prevailed during Committee meetings and the purely benevolent commitment of the whole team in the interest of non-commercial film-making.
I also refer to impressions and experiences collected in many
countries that we have visited. All Congresses have been attractive
and organised in a spirit of effort, friendliness and dedication. We
were offered culture, folklore, tourist and historical highlights;
we should not forget all the delicacies prepared in the kitchen,
collected in the vineyards, nor such important places as breweries
or even distilleries.
Without the UNICA Congress many people would have never set foot in Bulgaria and visited, for instance, its former capital Veliko Tarnovo.
Photos: Julia Obraztsova