Annual Report 2006-2007

July 1, 2006 — June 30, 2007

The Fundy Film Society (FFS) has had another fine and full year of film programming and I am pleased to present highlights of our sixth year, while acknowledging those who have made Fundy Film possible.

To the Fundy Film Board (The Dirty Dozen) I offer my sincere appreciation. Your annual commitment to the Society is responsible for its success. You are valued for your in-put and counsel. In particular, Mary Costello has been coordinating ticket sale volunteers and weekly scheduling since the earliest days. Thank you, Mary. And Executive members Megan Haliburton, secretary, and Wil Zimmerman, treasurer (and jack-of-all-trades) both deserve our heart-felt thanks. Joan Parker is leaving the Board. She has been our vice-chair from the beginning and graciously hosted most Board meetings in her home. We all thank you Joan, for six good years together.

Also from the first days (January 2002) Lee Lewis began writing our public service announcements (PSAs), which go out to a dozen print and electronic media. Even with a holiday looming, Lee would faithfully write them and arrange for the relentless deadlines to be met while she was away. Last January, Lee once again wrote the PSAs before leaving, announced her retirement from the position and put her written PSAs into the hands of co-worker, Peter Smith. After Lee’s final PSA, Peter (bless him) offered to continue. To date, he has very capably written and submitted spring, summer and autumn schedule PSAs and does so with great good humour, competence and reliance. On behalf of the Fundy Film Society, I first thank Lee for her invaluable years of service that kept our society and film screenings “in the news” and brought folks in from the length of the Valley, Halifax and the South Shore, and then thank her for passing the torch to Peter, and thank him for accepting it.

In general, Fundy Film has held its own over the past year in all ways: number of films screened, screenings, viewers and total revenue brought in. It has been another good year, limited only by the Society’s own people power.

A Box Office change of note in 2006–2007 was the demise of Main series pre-paid tickets with priority seating. Hurrah! Always a nightmare, the Board first eliminated priority seating and then dumped the Main tickets altogether by the fall of 2007. The 6-Pack (pre-paid general admission tickets for series films, no priority seating) paved the way for this evolution (or should I say revolution!) and has been received very well for a year. Pre-paid sales have again risen to the highest level of the past. Light & Shadow became a 6-Pack outlet for the first time this fall and we thank them.

As always, the popularity of some films makes up for those that don’t break even. An Inconvenient Truth was last year’s blockbuster (four screenings, 641 patrons and still some people turned away) and just for interest, the doc Shut Up and Sing required the only other unscheduled screening. Our Wednesday night Documentary series is doing really well, being a great hit with our viewers.

Demographically, the notable change in the past year has come with the gradual increase of area students to our audiences. The university began to include the Al Whittle Theatre on the orientation tours, but for our part, two successive September Student Specials; brochures to area schools; last fall’s 6-Pack ad on FaceBook and ticket outlet at Acadia University’s (A.U.) Students’ Union Building; materials in frosh packs, brochures at the SUB and the poster board and brochure pocket at BAC; articles and reviews featuring Fundy Film, screenings and Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre in the university’s Athenaeum; and Board member, Azura Goodman’s internet student contact—all have contributed to a new generation of students who are including the facility and our films in their lives. This makes the Fundy Film Society very happy.

I am also pleased to include the following in my Annual Report: During a film selection meeting discussion last fall, FFS member, John Brocke, offered to look into obtaining above the doors lettering for the theatre. John contacted his Calgary friend and film artist, John Chong, who fashioned letters in aluminum to ACC’s font and size requirements and shipped them to Wolfville. Both men are responsible for this generous donation to the Acadia Cinema’s Al Whittle Theatre and the handsome letters have graced the theatre doors since Wil Zimmerman installed them last spring.

Ned Zimmerman established our web site in the wee hours of the morning after the first film of the first series in January 2002. Since then he has faithfully developed the site with his creativity and technical research and skill, and up-dates it weekly as required. It is a contribution of gargantuan proportions. For many patrons, this site is the basic connection to Fundy Film programming. Since its launch, the web site has received nearly 75,000 hits. Of these, 25,000 have occurred just since last year’s AGM report. Early November will see the launch of a refined version of the current design, fixing several long-standing bugs that affect Internet Explorer users. Thank you, Ned.

Ned also designed last fall’s 6-Pack PR package, and the posters and tickets for the Special Presentation of the six-hour Italian epic, The Best of Youth on November 18. Mary Costello and I (with Sonya Stanley) put together a contact sheet distributed to area restaurants to encourage dinner discounts for Best of Youth patrons between the three-hour segments, creating a real happening. Most restaurants participated. And magically, we sold the minimum tickets that the Board had required and saw The Best of Youth on the Big Screen at last–a most memorable experience; “at last” because this screening had been on the Society wish list for well over a year, so a gratifying achievement indeed!

Fundy Film offered three more Special Presentation screenings during the 2006 – 2007 year:

  • On March 2 at 8 pm, the world theatrical premiere of Paul Donovan’s The Conclave screened at the Al Whittle Theatre. With a red carpet, a post-screening Q & A discussion (facilitated by production designer, Emanuel Jannasch) and a lobby reception from the film’s producers, the Fundy Film Society hosted an exciting special event, well attended in spite of a blizzard for competition.
  • The threat of a snowstorm did not keep a good crowd from attending our pre-release benefit screening of Sarah Polley’s Away From Her on March 16 either. The Fundy Film Society presented $368 to the Alzheimer’s Society (after expenses).
  • The Fundy Film Society was also a co-presenter of the NFB’s Valley premiere of Bonnie Klein’s Shameless: the Art of Disability, on May 29. The Valley Disability Partnership Society produced the event for Access Awareness Week. They provided funding for a quality digital projector rental and a lobby reception after the Q & A with one of the film’s featured artists and part-time local resident, Catherine Frazee. Thanks to Wil and Ned Zimmerman the theatre now has a wheelchair ramp that makes the stage fully accessible.

In addition to this partnership, Fundy Film facilitated screenings for Landmark East, Kings Edgehill and Acadia (An Inconveninet Truth), the Town of Wolfville (Buyer Be Fair), the Acadia Dance Collective (Step Up), and Billz Filmz (Brick, Borat, Hedwig and the Angry Inch). In turn we received cooperation from the Sunday Music in the Garden series when we requested a time change that would allow our viewers to attend both the concert and a 4 pm screening.

For the second summer, FFS hired Julie Harris to run our Box Office, do banking, file screening reports, and ship films, off-loading regular volunteers. The Society has always considered transferring some volunteer work over to an FFS employee. Julie has been excellent and we thank her for the break.

In last year’s report and over the year, the Society had a number of future plans. Some of these (The Best of Youth screening, and quality digital projections of Shameless and Nance Ackerman’s Cottonland (in October 2007 – full report at next year’s AGM!) have been achieved, along with baby steps toward two other goals: “Shorts in Winter” and progress toward acquiring a quality digital projector for the Al Whittle Theatre. We screened Oscar-winner The Danish Poet and Nance Ackerman’s Fid with Cottonland. We’ll hope to explore expanding short offerings further this year; and the Board voted to add any money (with claw-back for emergencies) over $3,500 at the end of each season to the digital projector start-up fund of $865. Our efforts will compliment the Acadia Cinema Cooperative, Ltd.’s own efforts now underway.

Untouched to date was our aim to: lay the groundwork for a Fundy Film Festival featuring films that all have Nova Scotian connections and credentials; and check out resources of interest available from the NFB. A digital projector is key for both but plans can begin any time for the festival and we can start with NFB 35 mm films. Let’s hope these areas will be explored in year seven.

We have several new members and or volunteers. Geoffrey Whitehall and Rachel Brickner are new Acadia professors who have stepped up to help with campus connections and other volunteer duties. Elizabeth Morgan and Norma Kennedy have recently joined the Society and Norma wants to give some time each week to Fundy Film. Noemi Volovics became a member last spring and has been working as a Box Office volunteer and will be nominated for the new Board. Sonya Stanley has been doing an excellent job covering as volunteer coordinator when Mary’s been away, as well as working the Box Office. And Ann McDougal and Tony Lowney, with Geoffrey Whitehall, covered the 6-Pack Sale this fall with Bob Brown and Michaele Kustudic on stand-by. Thanks to all for your interest in, and support and time given to Fundy Film.

We have many plans and ideas, limited only by the human resources currently available to carry them out. Wil, Ned and I are doing a great deal of the work day-to-day, year-to-year. Each Board member needs to put some thought and time into finding community members with skills, energy and the time to commit. The Hauer-Zimmermans are not always going to be available and if we want the Fundy Film to be sustainable, we all need to work together to find reliable people to share the load. I hope you will join me to make this a major priority for the Fundy Film Society this year.

Thank you, one and all.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan J. Hauer, still the Chair