Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Yr3 Week 3-4 (23-27 Oct - 2Annas Film Festival, Riga, Latvia)

This year, Middlesex University had been invited to attend 2Annas Film Festival in Riga, Latvia. This is an event designed to celebrate young filmmakers, for features, shorts and animation, in the Baltic and Eastern European regions. Several of our students had entered their assignment shorts from last year into the competition, though they were not nominated for any of the categories.

Since not a terrible amount happened between events, save for the mundaneness of sleep, food, sightseeing (Riga is a lovely place with a wonderful 'Old City' section) and of course, late night partying, I'll succinctly list the key events of each day down below:
  • Day 1: After a very early morning flight (6:45am), we arrived in a rather frigid Riga and, after checking in at the lovely Koventa Seta Hotel, we headed to a local academy for talks on film distribution and the sometimes harsh realities of the film festival circuit, courtesy of a German producer. One of his key bits of advice was to really look out for festivals that don't charge fees, as they examine a work more on artistry.
  • Day 2: We attended of our submitted MDX films at the KSuns theatre. However, the subsequent Q'n'A was cut short due to running out of time in our slot, and we vacated over to a local bar (and a rather shabby, rundown one to boot) though the session didn't materialize. A genuine pity, and I have to question why the festival didn't exercise more of its authority and resources to ensure we wouldn't get so rudely interrupted.
  • Day 3: Possibly the most 'distinct' day, we headed over to a lovely picture palace for the 2Annas Award Ceremony. However, once past the initial awe and beauty the ceremony was a complete and utter shambles; unrehearsed, unconfident hosts (also the festival producers mind you), poor technicals (no showreel or powerpoint, they would just jump back to the desktop anytime they needed something), weak judges who made completely generic, uninforming comments about the awarded films and worst of all, they never properly explained the categories or the films who won, so we were left just haphazardly jumping from category to category and watching clips with practically no context or explanation (doubly bad considering how good these films were when we got to see them at a later screening).
  • Day 4: Today, however, we attended a screening of the awarded films, which nearly made up for yesterday's shambles. A mixture of dark little short films, with a seemingly running theme of decay and denial (be it sexual with a castrated farmer, social with the school trying to seem more lively than it really is, or the mundane family and its typical day) and sometimes surrealistic animation (of note being a short film that play Monty Python with a bunch of animals in odd situations) made for a mesmerizing viewing experience, and certainly very different from our own, more straight laced shorts.

And then the last day was mainly spent just lying down in the lovely little teahouse by the river for the final time, before we boarded our RyanAir back to Stanstead. So, after all that, what are my closing thoughts about our little Latvian adventure? In the end, I didn't, and still don't, blame David or the tutors for what happened, as they had been, as I put it, 'suckered in', but just felt the Festival had not been the enriching experience it ought to have been. It was plenty of fun, roaming around and sightseeing with all my friends in the class, but as an educational endeavour, it failed with flying colours. However, that's not to say nothing of substance was gained, as there was the networking party after the awards ceremony. This is obviously good, mainly in the amount of potentially fruitful connections for us and the University, as well as the exposure of us attending such an event. As they say, 'Every shadow must have a light', and the hard work of David and co. should be acknowledged and respected, and not coloured by unforseen left turns that can happen to the best of us. Oh well, at least the food was good....

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