Three films already familiarto UK audiences - In My Father's Den,Festival, and Ladies in Lavender- were the winners at the 16th Dinard British Film Festival (Oct 6-9).
Brad McGann's In My Father's Den, which UK distributorOptimum released in theatres in June and on DVD last week, was something of asurprise winner, sweeping the awards with the jury's Golden Hitchcock (with a4,600 Euro prize), the audience's Silver Hitchcock prize, and the Prix Kodak forStuart Dryburgh's cinematography. The UK-New Zealand co-production stars Matthew Macfadyen as a warcorrespondent who returns to his tiny New Zealand hometown and becomes embroiled in a scandal.
Annie Griffin's Festival won Dinard's new award for bestscreenplay, and she accepted the prize by thanking her cast, who helped createthe script. Actor Charles Dance, this year's honorary festival president, wonthe Prix Coup de Coeur for his directorial debut Ladies In Lavender. That award comes with the promise ofdistribution for his film in 40 localFrench cinemas.
The festival also includedthe second year of a short-film competition between student films from France's la FEMIS and England's National Film & Television School. Scott Flockhart from the NFTS won the 1,500 Europrize for his short X-Mass.
This year's jury, led byFrench director Regis Wargnier, included Tom Novembre, Isabelle Carre, Aure Atika,Samuel Le Bihan, Berenice Bejo, Abdelkrim Ouchikhe, Simon Beaufoy, TimothySpall, and John Lynch. The other films in competition were Brian Cook's Colour Me Kubrick (the John Malkovichstarrer which made its festival premiere in Dinard), Jan Dunn's Dogme drama Gypo, Peter Cattaneo's Australia-setfamily film Opal Dream, and StephenWoolley's Stoned, about the finaldays of Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones.
After several days ofscreenings only for the local community, the festival opened officially onOctober 6 with Yes, with directorSally Potter and actor Simon Abkarian in attendance all weekend. The festival'sother gala screening was Nick Park & Steve Box's Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
British films showing aspreviews to their French releases included Neil Jordan's Breakfast on Pluto, Stephen Frears' Mrs. Henderson Presents, Joe Wright's Pride and Prejudice, Michael Caton-Jones' Shooting Dogs, and Richard E. Grant's Wah-Wah.
The intimate event is knownfor its networking opportunities almost as much as its screenings. CharlesDance called Dinard "by far the most enjoyable" festival he's attended as anactor or director. "This is an opportunity to see old friends, make newfriends, exchange cards, and improve our golf swings, but more importantly itensures that we in Europe become unified in the film industry because that waywe will continue to achieve and strive to be sometimes as successful as ourfriends across the Atlantic."
Jan Dunn, director of Gypo, told ScreenDaily.com that Dinard had been a great event for both showingher film at well-attended screenings and for the introductions it madepossible. "We had no idea about how much of a hidden treasure it is," she told ScreenDaily.com. "It's fantastic becausewhen you're here you become part of a club that you weren't in before. We'vehad meetings with people that it would be difficult to see back in London." Dunn was also able to meet with Frenchdistributors and have informal discussions with British colleagues aboutfinancing possibilities for her future features.
UK Film Council spokeswomanTina McFarling noted that Dinard was a way for people at the different ends ofthe UK film business to meet each other, as well. "Wealways press for emerging talents to attend the festival as well -- they getthe opportunity to meet their French counterparts, and they get time to spendtime with more established people in the UK film industry."
This year's festival was hitby some rumours about the future of the event in 2006 and beyond - with sometalk that the UK Film Council might pull its funding. McFarling said therumours were unfounded and she wasn't sure where the "scaremongering" wascoming from. And she noted that even if the Film Council did decide to reduceits funding to Dinard, the festival wouldn't be crippled. "We're only involvedin Dinard in quite a small way," McFarling told ScreenDaily.com. "We've given them £20,000 per year, which wasreduced to £15,000 this year because we made budget cuts across the board." Butshe said it would be "laughable" even by festival organisers in France that such a small slice of the festival's muchlarger budget could be so crucial to its future. The festival's entire budget is about Euros 1.2m, most of which comes from the town of Dinard. McFarling said that the FilmCouncil hadn't made budget decisions for 2006 yet but would assess all itsfunding recipients, including the Dinard Festival, "in terms of deliveringpublic value." She noted that the festival was a help to the British filmindustry in raising French audience awareness of a variety of British films,helping British films find French distributors, and allowing British producersto develop relationships with their French counterparts.
While directing legends NicolasRoeg and Neil Jordan were in town for retrospectives, some attendees noted thatthe star wattage was slightly dimmer than in years past. This year's attendeesincluded actors Paul McGann (Gypo), BillyBoyd (On a Clear Day), Emma de Caunes(Short Order), Nicholas Hoult (Wah-Wah), and Natascha McElhone (Ladies in Lavender). Directors andproducers attending included Gaby Dellal, Michael Caton-Jones, Pippa Cross,Christian Colson, Peter Cattaneo, Stephen Woolley, and Finola Dwyer. Industryattendees represented the UK Film Council and the British Council, France'sCNC, Dan Films, Haut Et Court,Pathe Pictures, Diaphana, UGC, The Works, and dozens of other film agencies andcompanies.
In more formal meetings,French and UK producers also met for a summit about the saggingmarket for co-productions between the two countries (with no immediate surgepredicted due to the ongoing changes in British film tax breaks.) Also, RegardsCroises hosted a Franco-British screenwriting workshop and the new BrittanyFilm Office used the festival as a way of introducing itself to Britishfilmmakers.
Dinard also includes anannual golf competition between UK and French producers, and the victors this year werethe British, who won 5 to 3. The tournament now bears the name of HumbertBalsan, the late French producer who founded the golf outing.