Report of the Fourth Festival 2001 by
Dave Watterson
member of the jury and Webmaster IAC
Dave Watterson during De Drake awards ceremony

This unusual, friendly and impressive festival wants story movies "in which the acting of the actors / actresses is of primary importance."
It accepts amateur entries and those by film schools.
I had the honour to be one of the judging team in 2001 and can assure you that the standard is excellent.

The Movies
Screenings began on Thursday night at 8pm in the Nova Centrum in Gent, then ran from 9am till about 11pm on Friday and Saturday plus a few hours on Sunday morning - so there was masses to see and enjoy.

The jury were fed and watered separately ... not as a snobbish privilege, but so that we could make each meal a working one!
So while we were fed wonderful meals we discussed the movies in a mix of Flemish, English and German. It was a delight to find that language rarely caused problems.
The movies were so good that they told their stories, no matter what language they were in.  (Many were in English or were subtitled in English.  My smattering of German helped me follow films in that language, in Flemish and in Dutch.)  My jury colleague Betty Bouckaert, from Gent, helped with any translations needed during screenings.  In the lively discussions Piet Van Eerden of the Netherlands made sure I missed nothing.

On Sunday afternoon, while the jury debated awards, the audience enjoyed a special presentation which celebrated the use of music in movies. This blended into a live cabaret with dancing girls doing the can-can and eventually dragging on stage the festival president, Wolfgang Freier.  He got the audience relaxed and smiling.  Then he and Betty Bouckaert compared the ceremonies with the help of a voice-over from the technical section and clips from the winning films on screen.
Overseas judges were "encouraged" to say a few words about any entry on which they had strong views.

Other Attractions
In the bar/restaurant area delegates enjoyed the same fine food and in the odd moments when I was able to pop in there were animated conversations in a whole range of languages and lots of laughter.
There was even more to please any movie enthusiast ... at the far end of the restaurant was a working tv studio doing interviews with visiting movie makers and dignitaries plus an edit suite where you could watch the daily festival newsreel being compiled.  There were also editing set-ups to experiment with and a section for computer games.  Lots of hints an tips were freely offered and delegates had plenty of chances to try out the kit for themselves.
Between restaurant and theatre the corridors were packed with exhibition cases holding part of the festival president's collection of vintage cameras - still and cine, plus some projectors.  Knots of movie makers were always to be seen peering at equipment of the type they had used in the past.

Upstairs and to one side of the main theatre was the technical centre - which had windows directly onto the theatre and screen.  Here a dedicated team battled with VCRs, amplifiers and computers to keep the Sony video projector in the cinema fed with appropriate images.  In addition to the usual range of tape formats they had to handle PAL, NTSC and SECAM work.  There were sponsors slides, a festival credit reel, the daily festival newsreel, even excerpts from local television's coverage of the event to be put on screen at the right moment.  A separate computer was used to keep track of the movies and the judges' provisional scores for them. (The final jury discussion was guided by those scores but not bound by them.)  Within minutes of the award decisions being made a booklet listing them all was prepared and several hundred copies prepared for handing out to delegates.
In the cinema Christiane Surdiacourt introduced the films - and now and then made the jury take a bow.  She could dim our work lights to hurry us along when necessary.

In the main theatre the walls were lined with commercial movie posters, life-sized cut-outs of the stars - and on the stage was a giant dragon figure, the smaller gold dragon which is the top award and rows of prize trophies.  Most of the trophies were resin cast statues of designs by a local artist each mounted on a stone plinth, some were resin cast medals on stands. Many awards were sponsored so came with books, cheques, bottles of wine and so on.
De Drake is generous with its awards - and I was loaded with trophies and prizes to bring back for: Atta Chui whose Crying Origami won the hearts of the jury and for Christopher Mander, whose Perfect continues to delight at each viewing. There were certificates to bring home and post on to Michael Slowe and to Peter Dunphy and Daniel Glynn for Betty and Sam. (I suggested that the broad Irish accents in this were our revenge for the Flemish dialogue with which I struggled in others.)
Publication with thanks to Dave Watterson, Webmaster of the IAC

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Film- & Videoclub " DE DRAKE " v.z.w.