Chair’s Annual Report 2003-2004

July 1, 2003 — June 30, 2004

The Fundy Film Society can be proud of another stellar season and it is my good fortune to share with this Annual General Meeting the highlights.

I begin by acknowledging the support, creativity, and just plain hard work of our Executive, Board and other volunteers whose collective talent and dedication brought to life Fundy Film’s second successful nine month season. I offer the Society’s sincere gratitude to each of you for your contribution.

We also owe much gratitude to the the staffs of the Toronto International Film Festival Group’s Film Circuit, Empire Theatres, New Minas, and the Acadia Print Shop, whose cooperation and good will have made Fundy Film’s mandate possible. We also thank Wendy Elliot, of the Advertiser, who gave us many column inches last year.

Although we try to use every means to reach patrons about our season, ticket sales, and each upcoming film, we always miss a few. It’s hard to figure sometimes. Our web site continues to be a reliable source for many patrons. At this time last year we had 13,000 hits and as of this weekend we have over 28,300. We get our printed material out and about. Our use of the print media (including the new Grapevine which we are supporting with an ad in each addition) is very effective. And so is that for radio, when possible. We have recently hit a snag with the local radio station (AVR — Magic 94) which appears to be lumping arts public service announcements (PSAs) into a separate category allowing the stations to remove free PSAs, substituting a very expensive matching ad alternative. Your chair is looking into it and CRTC regulations.

In spite of any failings on our part, last year more than 6,700 film lovers from Halifax to Kingston came to 32 different films. This number of screened films represents an increase of 23% due to our first complete season with an equal number of ON THE EDGE and Main series films. We had 67 screenings of these films which included two additional screenings for one EDGE film (Les Triplettes de Belleville) and one extra of the EDGE film, Capturing the Friedmans. We were pleased to be able to accommodate two Kings County law firms who offered this film for the benefit of those working with families and the law. We also moved into the Empire’s largest theatre for a sellout screening of The Corporation.

Admissions-wise I wish also to report these interesting observations and statistics:

  1. We are seeing a slight demographic shift in attendance with more students (both high school and university);
  2. There has been an increase in general admission tickets across the board — up 33%;
  3. Attendance of EDGE films rose from a 52 to 94 body average over the last two nine month seasons; while interestingly, the average for Main film attendance has held pretty steady: 100 in ‘02-‘03 and 102 last season. Our most popular film in ‘03-‘04 was Girl with a Pearl Earring with 466 attending.

The financial success of the Fundy Film Society meant that in 2003-2004 we had to begin to pay HST for the first time (three submissions to date) and in July 2004 the Film Circuit finally billed us for their services (3% of gross minus HST), as threatened, since they consider us an “established group” now. On the positive side, our income also allowed us to lend support to local arts-based groups with Fundy Film’s tickets-for-the-arts-policy, for fund raising purposes. Two Planks and a Passion and Centre Stage were last season’s beneficiaries. And we were also able to purchase an additional 140 shares in the Acadia Cinema Cooperative Ltd. (ACC), bringing our investment to $25,000 and making us the largest shareholder. We can be very proud of our contribution to this significant community arts facility, very soon to be our new home and we received a formal letter from ACC which expressed their appreciation of our continuing support. We also received a shared donation ($640) from Kings Environmental Group, thanking us for films which celebrate and encourage public discussion about the environment. We gave our share to ACC, the co-recipient.

The move to Wolfville will bring some transitional challenges, but many new opportunities as well. We are already exploring some of these. Society member, Gisela Westphalen, hopes to look into a possible relationship with the National Film Board and its collection and we will be receiving information about Canadian shorts (past and current) from the Circuit for the possibility of the occasional short film evening or festival. And for the first time since 2001, we met with the Acadia Students Union (last spring) and were able to get our Autumn Season bookmarks into the frosh packages. We have also been encouraged by a number of interesting inquiries from various academic sectors regarding the new facility for film and the role Fundy Film may or may not play.

On the horizon there will also be many opportunities for the Fundy Film Society to provide funding for film-related projects. Recently brought to our attention is a new cooperative being planned by a group of young area filmmakers. Their hope is to establish an equipment cooperative based on the FAVA (Film and Video Arts Society of Alberta) or Centre for Art Tapes (Halifax) models. Initially, this might be a more direct way to support new young filmmakers than the busary route.

Our new “Courtesy Pass” policy for screening volunteers has been appreciated by those who have taken advantage of them: Approximately $1,500 in free passes were used last season. However, free films are not the only answer for what challenges us. We all agreed last year at this time that we need more support for the inner workings of Fundy Film. This is especially true as we enter the new Al Whittle Theatre with all the opportunities it offers for expansion of programming. I challenge each Society member again to look over the Members’ page of our web site and help the Fundy Film Society recruit some new, dedicated working members in-training for every position. We have made some but not enough progress in this respect. We must widen the base if we are to survive long into the future.

In last year’s report I concluded with three fervent hopes for 2003-2004:

  1. that today would find the Fundy Film Society meeting in the Al Whittle Theatre. Well, we’re so close to being there that we can taste it. So Hurrah! for #1;
  2. that we would have strengthed as a working Society, and;
  3. that we would have successfully fulfilled our mandate once again — having enriched the cultural life of the greater Valley community by providing another year of the finest available moving pictures. Regarding #3, it is to our collective credit that Valley residents of many ages have come to depend on the Fundy Film Society for its special contribution to their cultural lives. So two out of three is not bad. Together we will just have to work to make “hope #2” a reality.

On behalf of the Board of the Fundy Film Society, I offer a sincere “Thank You” to the many people who have supported us in any way over the past year, especially to Society members and volunteers and those who faithfully attended our film series.

We have many exciting challenges ahead and I look forward to sharing them with you all.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan J. Hauer, Chair