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Kate Gerova departs Soda to join Birds Eye View

Birds Eye View founder and chief executive Rachel Millward will continue at helm; organisation eyes international expansion and more industry involvement.

Kate Gerova, formerly head of distribution at UK distributor Soda Pictures, has taken on the new role of creative director at Bird’s Eye View (BEV), which runs year-round activities as well as a biennial film festival to support women in film.

Gerova [pictured] leaves Soda after being at the company since 2005, initially as head of publicity.

Rachel Millward, founder and chief executive of BEV, told Screen: “Kate can bring a whole lot into our business strategy and engaging audiences…We can imbed ourselves more in the industry side and economics of the film business. Kate can up the ante in that area.”

She continued: “We want to connect films and audiences as much as we possibly can.”

Gerova said in a statement: “I’m delighted to join Birds Eye View at a time with huge potential for international growth, with the creative vision of female talent gaining increased prominence at leading international festivals and on our screens. I will be building on BEV’s track record of fantastic and innovative programming and events, while also developing year round activities to inspire, educate and broker more opportunities for women filmmakers.”

Gerova will spearhead the Birds Eye View Film Festival and other year-round exhibition activities. The festival is now biennial, with Gerova’s first big international festival planned for 2014, most likely in April.

The ‘off years’ without an international festival will focus on special themed programmes as in this year, when BEV is hosting a series dedicated to Arab women filmmakers.

“It’s such a great time to look at their work,” Millward said. “We really want to took at a specific region and also bring in discourse on that.” The festival and programmes could eventually recruit partners to travel overseas.

2013 festival

The 2013 festival will be held April 3-10 at the BFI Southbank and Barbican, after kicking off in March with events timed to International Women’s Week.

The Women’s Day Gala on March 8 will see Haifaa Al Mansour presenting her acclaimed film Wadjda. March 7’s event will be a new live score by Bushra El-Turk for The Adventures Of Prince Achmed. Partners on the Arab programmes include the British Council and Doha Film Institute.

“With all the films together it’s a really fascinating programme,” Millward promises of the April festival.

The festival had been annual from 2005 to 2011, but Millward said that funding issues with the economic downturn had forced the event to go biennial in late 2011. “Thankfully we had really good financial management, we had revenues to keep us going when [public funding] dried up. We had to tighten the belt.”

Going forward, Millward says the funding will be a mix of public funds, sponsorships and more individual donations.

Growth plans

Millward will continue at the helm of the organisation, with plans to also grow the talent labs, to provide creative and professional development for women in the film industry.

BEV is also expanding its international reach, Millward noted. For now, the programming and festival will remain in the UK, but will seek to spotlight other global areas such as with the Arab world programme.

“It’s a tiny, tiny percent of films we see that are creatively powered by women,” Millward notes of why the organisation and festival are just as relevant in 2013 as they were in 2005. “That’s our main area of interest and that’s exactly as important as it was.”

The BEV has recently added new members including former BFI London Film Festival artistic director Sandra Hebron, Briony Hanson of the British Council, Alison Thompson of Focus Features International and Anna Higgs of Film4.0.

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