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Thursday, 21 November, 2002, 13:16 GMT
'Big budget' call for film festival
Scene from the Australian film He Died With A Falafel In His Hand
Facing the future: calls for a budget boost for festival
The fifth Welsh film festival has opened in Cardiff with calls for the event's budget to be at least doubled if it is to measure up to the standard expected of a city aiming to be Europe's Capital of Culture in 2008.

Critics argue the International Film Festival of Wales has failed to thrive since it was controversially moved from Aberystwyth in 1998.


It's almost like the film festival is something that is happening in Cardiff that week

Film director Marc Evans

Despite a number of innovations for the 2002 programme - including free tickets for some films on the opening night and the premier of an animated film of mythological Welsh tales - it faces a panning over its contribution to the Wales's cultural scene.

Industry players want to see the budget and remit of the event, which runs until 27 November, expanded to fit in with Cardiff's aim of landing the top-flight arts title in six years time.

Marc Evans, director of the summer horror hit, My Little Eye, has been a regular visitor to the annual film extravaganza since it was originally founded in Aberystwyth 15 years ago.

Scene from the Welsh-language film Gwyfyn (Moth)
Lauren Colbeck in the new S4C film Gwyfyn (Moth)

He believes the event based in the waterfront setting of Cardiff Bay still brings many benefits for aspiring film makers in Wales but is still searching for a role to match its title.

He said: "It was a mistake to move the film festival from Aberystwyth - it had a lot more panache when it was at Aberystwyth.

"The tendency of Cardiff is that it absorbs events that are taking place in it.

"I think that the problem is that is does not feel like a place that has a geographic centre, it's spread out. It's almost like the film festival is something that is happening in Cardiff that week.

Budget

"Film festivals have an ability of developing a momentum of their own, those elements are difficult to get right.

"I don't know how you improve these things but I know that money would help."

Berwyn Rowlands, chief executive of Wales' media agency, SgrÓn Cymru Wales, those running the festival are doing their best "with a not a very realistic budget".

The festival's £130,000 budget is provided by SgrÓn via support from the Welsh Assembly and the Arts Council of Wales.

The Edinburgh film festival, in comparison, has a budget of around £1m.

Mr Rowlands said: "Clearly there are priorities - you have to be realistic - but Wales has to have a film festival that can actually do the job.

Scene from the Spanish film Ibiza Dream
Are enough people talking about the Welsh film festival?

"We should really see at least double the amount spent on festival.

"People sometimes think of festivals as the icing on the cultural cake - I believe strongly they are the cake itself.

"The film festival is a huge cultural machine - a great force that spins around itself."

Highlights of this year's festival include the UK premier of Plots with a View, a comedy about the undertaking business set in the south Wales Valleys starring Hollywood star Christopher Walken as well as British actors Alfred Molina and Brenda Blethyn.

Michael Sheen, star of Heartlands, a romantic road movie, attends the screening of the film on Monday 25 November 25, at UGC Cinemas.

John Malkovich

He will be accompanied by the film's director Damien O'Donnell, who also directed East is East.

Others include a series of question-and-answer sessions and workshops with experts in the film industry.

The festival also includes the screening of the first feature film directed by actor John Malkovich, Dancer Upstairs, as well as a short film directed by him called Hideous Man.

Animation days feature on Friday to Sunday, 22-24 November.

Barbara Slade, who has written for children's favourites the Rugrats and Winnie the Pooh, will also be involved in a writer's workshop on Saturday 23 November.


More from south east Wales
See also:

08 Nov 02 | Wales
20 Nov 02 | Wales
19 Nov 02 | Wales
06 Dec 00 | Wales
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