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28/02/2005

FOCAL awards honour archive footage triumphs

International productions have dominated the final selections for the moving image industry’s annual awards, as members now take their turn to decide on the ultimate winners.
The FOCAL International Awards in association with APTN Library are the highest honours given out by the footage world, voted on by producers, researchers, archivists and library owners.
Nearly 200 entries were received in 15 categories, designed to highlight the use and importance of archive in productions ranging from TV broadcast and Feature Films to Electronic Publishing and Post Production.
Two of the most keenly contested areas, for the use of footage in History and in Entertainment productions, reflected the diversity of entries and the quality of international programmes.
The History category alone attracted 55 entries and the three finalists were praised for using detailed research to support fascinating stories.
'Different Times' (Andere Tijden, produced by NPS, Netherlands) used many unseen films from small and private collections combined with diaries and interviews to illustrate the realities of life under German occupation during World War II in a huge 17 part series.
'Comrades', produced by La Compagnie des Phares et Balises, France, used the archives of the French Communist party to tell an extraordinary story of its post-war influence, and the people who lived through its rise and fall.
'Mr Patterns' (produced by Film Australia) pieced together the story of an art teacher in a remote community who helped recognise Aboriginal culture, sensitively integrating Mr Pattern’s own home movies with the narrative.
In the Feature Film section American entries both dominated and impressed the jury, revealing a strength in feature-length documentaries not matched elsewhere. Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 is joined by Going Upriver, the story of John Kerry’s Vietnam war experience and Giuliani Time, a look at the career of the former mayor of New York.
The entries were narrowed down to a maximum of three finalists in each category by a jury with members from the US, Australia, France, Germany and the UK. They will now be opened up to Focal members for the final judging.
“We at FOCAL are thrilled and encouraged by the wide range of entries in these our second Awards – both in terms of content and the truly international spread of sources,” commented Jane Mercer, Chair of FOCAL International.
The awards will be presented by Lord David Puttnam on May 9 at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in London.
FOCAL members are able to vote on the finalists in each category and can view clips and more details through the FOCAL website at www.focalint.org.
(SP)
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