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19th Chichester International Film Festival 20% audience surge + Awards

The 19th Chichester International Film Festival, the most successful to date with attendances up by a whopping 20%, closed on September 5 with a sellout Gala Closing World Premiere Film, Made in Dagenham, starring Sally Hawkins and Bob Hoskin, scriptwriter Billy Ivory giving an insight into the making of the film. The 18 day festival’s Opening Gala Film, The Illusionist, an English Premiere, was among the 93 films, 136 programme and 6 illustrated talks which attracted over 4,750 to the cinema’s 120 seater auditorium and 40 seater studio.
Films included 40 previews and UK and English Premieres including Cyrus, Dog Pound, The Frost, Coco & Igor Stravinsky, Alamar, New York, I Love you and Plan B. Audiences were invited to vote for the best film and the best documentary, the Audience Award going to the 83 year old Fritz Lang film, Metropolis, the Documentary Award tied between Paradiso (Derry during the troubles by Alessandro Negrini) and Bird on A Wire (singer Leonard Cohen’s tour by Tony Palmer). The Oscar Best Foreign Film winner, Secrets in Their Eyes, was the runner up, Made in Dagenham in third place. Others in the Top Ten include Mother (South Korea); The Maid (Chile); China’s Turning Point 1977 and Postman in Shangri La; Sweden’s The Girl Who Played with Fire; UK’s Tamara Drewe and three French films, The Illusionist, 22 Bullets, a revenge gangster film and Farewell, an espionage true story film.
‘This was our biggest and most ambitious Festival to date with many gratifying compliments about the range and variety of the programme,’ artistic director Roger Gibson comments. ‘Despite recession and its inevitable consequences of reduced funding and sponsorship, it was always our commitment to bring to Chichester the best of world cinema, to celebrate imagination, orginality and diversity. The festival also provided opportunities for our visiting filmmakers and speakers to interact with the audience, Nick Moran [The Kid and Telstar] and his leading actor Con O’Neill doing a Q & A as did directors Craig McCall and Mason Cardiff [Cameraman: Life and Works of Jack Cardiff].’ ‘Tony Palmer, who has directed many films, is a regular visitor to the festival, his running commentary throughout the 1913 silent film, The Life and Works of Richard Wagner, before the screening of his own film, The Wagner Family, quite extraordinary,’ Roger adds. His Bird on the Wire, a film on Leonard Cohen, caused controversy, the question of copyright hotly debated by Palmer and an audience member.
Talks included ones on filmmakers Kurosawa, Bunuel and actor Colin Firth, Standard film critic Derek Malcolm describing his life as a critic. Given free range to ‘rubbish films,’ for the paper, ex-Guardian critic Malcolm sees over 500 films a year, ‘300 of them I wouldn’t send a pregnant duck to.’ ‘Critics must be good journalists and have an understanding of the arts and cinema,’ in decline in some film criticism he suggests.
Opening the film festival, Screen South Chairman Graham Benson declared that it was ‘yet another action packed and bejewelled Chichester International Film Festival which we have supported for nine years but it may well be a little challenging in the future. The UK Film Council , now winding down due to Government cuts , is not only about implementing tax breaks and selecting films for funding assistance . Through the network of Regional Screen Agencies like Screen South local film-makers , key projects , film education , archives , audience development and Festivals like Chichester have been supported and must continue to be. We are currently seeking a revised regional structure which will guarrantee this.’
Mr Benson added: ‘This festival exemplifies what a partnership such as ours can achieve. You must write to your MP, to anyone influential you know and let them know your feelings.’ Billy Ivory strongly supports Mr Benson’s stand. ‘The decision re the UK Film Council is a bonkers one with far-reaching effects. Decisions can be changed. This is one of the best cinemas I have been in, the industry in general needing your support.’ Sponsors include Seaward Properties, Chichester University, Screen South, West Sussex County Council.
The 20th Chichester International Film Festival is from Aug 18 – Sept 4, 2011.

 Chichester Cinema is an independent cinema that shows over 300 films at 1500 screenings at its home in New Park
 It seats 120 in the main auditorium, 40 in the Studio, has a bar and a car park
 Programming includes the best of contemporary and classic cinema from Britain, Europe and America, as well as award-winning international films, retrospectives, education events and film seasons
 Chichester Cinema is home to the 18-day Chichester Film Festival, now in its 19th year, showcasing previews and premieres, over 70 feature films, Q&As with visiting directors and talks supporting the programming
 The Cinema’s equipment includes modern 35mm projector, DTS, Dolby® Digital, plus the facilities to screen and a number of other formats including VHS, S-VHS, Digi-Beta, Blu-Ray and DVD.

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