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06/05/2009

Focal International Awards Celebrate Winners

The trade body representing the world's footage archives, professional footage researchers, consultants and facility houses, Focal International, enjoyed an evening of glamour and celebration last night at their 2009 6th FOCAL International Awards in association with AP Archive.
Category winners represented the diversity of genres and platforms that contemporary archive and footage based productions span today; highlights included the BBC stealing the Award for Best Use of Footage in an Entertainment Production for The Great British Sunday from Shine Ltd who had two strong contenders with Comedy Songs and The Most Annoying Couples.
The international scope of these prestigious awards was evident with two out of the three winners in the Best Use of Footage in Factual Productions being US producers: 102 Minutes that Changed America (Siskel Jacobs Productions) and The Night James Brown Saved Boston (David Leaf Productions) with the BBC's The Unseen Alistair Cooke also winning.
Four programmes were in contention for the Best use of Footage in an Arts, Music or Drama production covering the lives of Phil Spector, Johnny Cash and Ralph Vaughan Williams, but it was the BBC's The Thirties in Colour series which eventually won.
There were some surprising results with Graham Hill - Driven (Mark Stewart Productions) beating Thriller in Manila (Darlow Smithson Productions) in the Best use of Sports Footage, however the latter won Paul Gardner The Jane Mercer Footage Researcher of the Year Award acknowledging not only the difficulties of licensing sports footage, but also the skill of sourcing obscure and sensitive material to illustrate the social history of the '70s in America.
Another surprising result was the restoration of the Kinora reels from the early 1900s winning an award over the monumental restoration of the David Lean collection of feature films by the BFI and ITV Global Entertainment. However, it highlighted the importance of all such vital and skilled work that goes into saving film heritage, especially when it brings back to life a dead technology as in the case of the Kinora reels, which required Blue Post Production to construct a special rig to convert the individual images to a digital format.
Terence Davies' Of Time and The City (Hurricane Films) constructed of 80% archive footage mostly sourced by researcher Jim Anderson, won the Award for Best Use of Footage in a Feature production.
French archive INA won an award for their fascinating Mysteries in the Archives, which looks at particular historical events and analyses how the footage has been used, whilst the CBC/Radio-Canada Digital Archives was acknowledged as a winner for its user-friendly and educational website offering over 12,000 television and radio clips covering Canada's social and political history.
Great use of footage was made in the three advertisements for EDF, NIKE and NOKIA which were shortlisted for an award but it was NOKIA: Days which won for Jack Morton Worldwide. Humour was also used to great effect in the three productions nominated for the Award for Best use of Footage in a Short production which included the Coldplay video Violet Hill and Britain Recut made using BFI footage, but it was the novel use of footage in Jay-Z's intro at last year's Glastonbury which won for Princess Productions.
The 2009 awards were presented by celebrated British film-maker Lord Puttnam, FOCAL International's Chair of Patrons. In his keynote speech he talked of the footage industry moving from a passive to an active stage. "It is no longer only about the collection, preservation and management of our archives - the significant development to come is about the exciting and different ways in which archive content will be made accessible in a wide range of educational, heritage and commercial new platforms."
This year's annual Lifetime Achievement Award went to Roy Harris, who recently retired after more than 25 years service in CBC's Archive Sales.
(KMcA/BMcc)
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