Ben Miller: Lots of festivals have come and gone since 2003, but Cine-City seems to have quietly gone from strength to strength.
Frank Gray: Many film festivals just focus on new feature films and releases. It’s great to do that, but we run a full programme of other events as well, so we’re not completely reliant on distributors saying yes or no. When you do that you’re not in control and it becomes like a roulette wheel. We’re incredibly careful with our money, as cultural organisations everywhere have to be at the moment. We can’t fritter it away – our festival is never going to have red carpets and limousines, it’s not that kind of thing.
BM: A constant balance needs to be struck between what is achievable and what has to be left out.
FG: There’s always a bit of magic and mystery in how we create the festival, because it’s a case of finding a way within limited means to produce the best possible programme. Sometimes things don’t quite work out, but they go back in the ideas box, or maybe we might have to wait a while and do it another year. We’ve been working on the exhibition devoted to Mark Lewis this year since 2007.
BM: Mark’s just represented Canada at the Venice Biennale, so that seems another great coup after the immense success of the Quay Brothers show last year.
FG: What’s really exciting is that we’re showing his work at the highest possible standard. The company sponsoring the show, qed, are going to enable us to screen his films on HD8K projectors – these are the highest quality video projectors in the world. His pieces are usually single continuous shots with no edits, lasting for three or four minutes, but they’re made in such a way that if you don’t see them at this high standard you don’t realise how beautiful they are.
BM: You seem to be spreading out and collaborating with more widespread artists every year.
FG: Once you become part of the festival circuit it’s really important to befriend cultural departments, especially in countries where we really like their films. If people in those countries are putting together a film package they’re very keen to promote it. We’re really happy to work with them because they bring enthusiasm and make it affordable. They want their films to be seen by as many people as possible. When you start these relationships you can look forward and say “wouldn’t it be interesting if we could do this together?”
BM: And longevity also allows you to build up an understanding with festivalgoers.
FG: We get a good response through the questionnaires each year, and we attend all the shows and hear what audiences are saying. It’s really important for us to have a number of free events every year as well, like the ‘in conversation’ between Mark Lewis and Laura Mulvey and the lecture by Ian Christie we’ve got this year. We’re now doing events across the year, so it’s easier to build relationships. We stay flexible because we know we always need to be listening to our audience.
John Hillcoat – The Road (preview and Q&A)
A post-apocalyptic world where the planet has given up.
Mark Lewis (exhibition, November 19th – Dec 12th, University of Brighton Gallery)
He’s become incredibly famous recently because of the Biennale
A retrospective programme of surreal films
Artists’ Moving Images – Figuring Landscapes
A set of five screenings and a panel discussion
A programme listing more than 50 British films which never got made.