The first meeting of the newly-elected committee was on 23-25 November in Ternat, near Brussels, Belgium. Part of our task was to assign jobs.
Not quite! My experience was similar to everyone’s, though some came by car or train.
Friday leave home 7.30, fly to Brussels. Eugy Van Gool drives me to the hotel. Dinner in a nearby restaurant and a welcome visit from Michelle Cooreman, Belgium’s official UNICA representative.
Saturday breakfast at 7.00. Car-sharing to Ternat. Set out chairs and tables in a school room intended for meals and recreation. Meet from 9.00 to 18.00 with short pauses for refreshments and a sandwich lunch. Car share back to hotel and then on to a nice meal in central Brussels.
Sunday breakfast at 7.00. Car-sharing to Ternat. Set out chairs and tables in community centre room where the local cine club works. Meet from 9.00 until 12.00. Back to hotel for lunch, informal discussions, lift to the airport and fly back. I reached home at midnight.
The hotel and flights cost 500 Euros. UNICA pays 100 Euros of that. So, three full days and up to 400 Euros outlay. For each of us the story would be similar.
The star of the weekend was Eugy Van Gool with the support of his friend Fred. They booked the hotel, meeting venues and restaurants, drove us to and fro, collected us from stations and airports – nothing was too much trouble for them. They made it an easy and pleasant time, which allowed us all to get a lot of work done.
UNICA2019 team: Bouke Jasper, Kees Tervoort, Franka Stas, Jan Essing, Vladimir Murtin and Emile de Gruitjer.
We discussed all sorts of topics, while trying to orientate the
five committee newcomers to the many aspects of UNICA organisation,
which are more complex than you might expect.
These laws were not aimed at modest-sized, non-commercial organisations like us, but we have to abide by them. Jacqueline Pante, is the lead officer on this. She will be responsible for ensuring that we comply with the rules. She will be assisted by Bernhard Lindner, in the task of keeping up to date with rulings in countries and courts about data privacy issues.
Bernhard Lindner, will not make changes to the competition rules. He aims to join the two separate documents dealing with the contest, into a single one.
We are all of us – UNICA Committee, National Organisations and regular visitors – responsible for spreading the word about our annual event. Numbers have decreased over the years. We do not want attendance to be so low that it is not possible to continue …
So, promotion, public-relations and all sorts of publicity are vital to UNICA. The team of three (Andrzej Przeździecki, Zuzana Školudová and Wolfgang Allin) will work closely with everyone else, including Eugy Van Gool as the new webmaster. It was a deliberate choice to make Wolfgang Allin our new Patronage Officer, since his duties also overlap this area.
Wolfgang Allin takes on this role (assisted by Zuzana Skoludova + Andrzej Przeździecki). Following in the footsteps of Wolfgang Freier is not easy! “Wolfie” would drive thousands of kilometres to visit festivals and to maintain personal contact.
Since their first election in 2015, Franka Stas and Mitze Chapovski have concentrated on encouraging young authors to attend UNICA and to take part in the Workshops. We ask National Organisations to include at least one film by a young author (up to 25 years old) if possible. Encourage that author to come to the UNICA workshop in Zeist.
One Young UNICA Workshop participant from each country gets half of the Congress Card paid by UNICA. We encourage their National Organisation to pay the other half. All workshop participants get accommodation and meals free of charge. If a participant is under their country’s official age of responsibility, a parent or guardian must come with her or him.
To be clear: UNICA has no age limits on the authors, whose films take part, or on who can attend the annual event. The Workshops, however, are restricted to an age range decided by the local organisers. This is usually 18 – 25 years old.
This band of enthusiasts offers important moral support and financial help in cases where UNICA itself cannot do so. Like a supporters club or a “friends of the arts” group, it brings together people, who are dedicated to supporting all that we do. Sometimes in the past there were social meetings between UNICAs, but the costs of travel and accommodation have made that impractical in recent years. Tatiana Alahverdzhieva continues to look after the working of the group.
This is a vital behind-the-scenes task. After the jury has given its awards, there is a flurry of work to ensure that each author will get the appropriate diploma. As you can imagine that needs very careful checking and proof-reading. The diplomas have to be printed and double-checked in time for the awards ceremony later in the day. In recent years our Treasurer, Thomas Kräuchi, has been assisted in this by Jan Essing, despite Jan having retired as Secretary-General in 2015. Now Thomas will be assisted by Eugy Van Gool, who is keen to automate all such processes as much as possible.
Eugy Van Gool will take over from me as webmaster. It may take several months before he can revamp it. The UNICA website is very large with hundreds of pages, thousands of documents and images.
UNICA films are stored in the Lichtspiel Archive, Berne, Switzerland. Thomas Kräuchi supervises but there is little call for films. During 2018 the Spanish National Organisation digitised and deposited with us copies of films older than any we had previously held.
Before emails and websites there were letters and magazines. Without a permanent home, UNICA had to depend on the kindness of individuals to store paper records. Most are with Wolfgang Freier, some with Rolf Mandolesi and financial records with Thomas Kräuchi.
Mike Whyman is now tackling the task of sorting these, digitising some of them and arranging for the papers to go to the Lichtspiel Archive.
As reported in my last newsletter we have two UNICAs planned and two offers for the future.
Most visitors fall in love with the spirit of a UNICA. Yes, they are fascinated by fine films from around the world. Yes, the chance to visit an unfamiliar place is interesting. But over and over again I am told, that people come to be with other film enthusiasts.
So how can we get more people to dip their toe in the water?
Can you write for your national website or magazine? Can you make an evening in your club or region, where you show some UNICA films and talk about 2018 and plans for 2019? (DVDs with the 2018 winners are on their way to each National Organisation now.)
- Dave Watterson,
President of UNICA
Bath, United Kingdom