Annual Report 2009-2010

January 1, 2009 – December 31, 2010

This is my eighth Report from the Chair to the membership, friends and guests of the Fundy Film Society (FFS). I know how the detailed, archival nature of my reports tries you all. Perhaps I do this subconsciously to encourage you to unglue and free me from the Chair!

Seriously, I use this opportunity to both share and record the detailed history of our Society in the context of the wider community, not only because I think the record in of itself is important, but also because I value the Society’s broad connections, and the contributions that the Fundy Film both bestows and receives.

So I am very pleased to present this report, which technically covers almost two amazing years in the life of this plucky little society. Our last AGM was February 25, 2009 and I lay most of the blame for the delay of this evening’s meeting squarely at the feet of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). And why not? CRA never acknowledged our 2008 by-law change regarding the timing of our fiscal year! Our treasurer at the time had finally initiated the change after our summer series had become a permanent fixture at the Al Whittle Theatre. But even before CRA got up to speed, said summer season was changing once again with the arrival of the new Valley Summer Theatre to the Al Whittle.

Since the new timing had hardly taken root, so to speak; FFS treasurer Noemi Volovics suggested the best fiscal year for her purposes would now be Sept 1 – Aug 31; the AGM is supposed to be held within a few months of our fiscal year’s end; and needing the membership for a by-law change—we concluded that postponing the AGM from Spring (2010) until Autumn of this year made good sense allowing the combing of the vote with the meeting while putting this AGM in sync with our future new fiscal year. So here we be and let’s hope CRA can get the record straight this time.

Two areas I try to emphasize in each Report from the Chair: first, how we have fulfilled our Mandate through changes and highlights during the AGM period; and second, acknowledgements to those who have made the on going work of the Society possible. And the period of the Society’s life I am covering today offers significant opportunities to report on both. While we’re at it, here is our mandate:

FFS Mandate
The Fundy Film Society is a registered, nonprofit society and member of the Toronto International Film Festival Group’s Film Circuit.
The Fundy Film Society offers high-quality independent, Canadian and foreign films. Our objectives are:
• to provide community access to films rarely available in the Wolfville area;
• to provide an opportunity in our community for the study, appreciation and celebration of film and the moving image as culturally significant art forms.

In the Spring of 2009 the digital cinema projector arrived and after some traumatic adjustments that Wil Zimmerman made heroically (with support from Rick Clayton and John Robichaud) we initiated our first series able to provide the flexibility of complimenting 35mm with digital screening. This major technical change has increased our capabilities and opportunities tremendously. Our new era began with the likes of Baraka.

Fundy Film had long recognized the need for high quality digital capability and immediately established a Projector Fund (with the Acadia Cinema Cooperative Ltd) using the free-will offering derived from the NFB screenings of Jason Young’s Animals in 2005. Back then current Fundy Film Board Member, marke slipp, came out of nowhere to help Wil and me with the arrangements of that special event. And four years later marke initiated, produced and directed a wee video with the creative team of Fred Macdonald (cinematographer), Warren Young (editing and post production), Ken Shorley (music) with Elizabeth Young (catering), to acknowledge the broad-based support—from community groups, local business, shareholders and all three levels of government—that had made the purchase possible. The delightful Thank You! piece was screened before most digital films in the fall of 2009 and also before the Colville screenings in August, 2010. We will use it from time to time each year so that everyone understands and remembers what an amazing feat this was.

Here is a list of all those who made the digital cinema projector possible:
• ACOA’s Innovative Communities Fund
• Town of Wolfville
• Wolfville Business Development Corporation
• Province of Nova Scotia
• Individual ACC shareholders
• Just Us! Coffee Roasters Co-op
• Rotary Club of Wolfville
• Fundy Film Society
• Scotia McLeod
• Retired Faculty of Acadia University

The projector was a component of a successful ACOA grant awarded to the Acadia Cinema Cooperative Ltd. (ACC) in 2009. The new studio we occupy this evening was also designed and completed under the grant and as a result another change has come our way: as ACC’s anchor tenant, the Fundy Film Society was given ACC Board approved access Studio-Z as long as it is not previously booked or needed for dressing rooms / green room for the Al Whittle Theatre. Studio-Z’s second screen has provided a further change to the Film Selection Committee’s process—the ability to view Big Screen trailers together for the first time.

In my Report of February 2009, our financial situation was precarious. And it will always be so as long as ACC has a mortgage and needs us as anchor tenant. Our shares represent 10% of the coop’s current capital investment and we steadily provide about 50% of the coop’s annual rental income. As I have written in previous reports then, our role puts a burdensome responsibility on us. But with on-going analysis from our Board (and especially our treasurer, Noemi) changes and adjustments are implemented and, as we have heard earlier in her AGM report this evening, we seem to be holding our own. During this period, however, Monday evening screenings were eliminated, beginning in May of 2009. In a move to clarify for and we hope attract audiences, we also dropped the EDGE film category and now offer only Features on Sundays and Docs every other Wednesday. The Board also approved Noemi’s suggestion most recently to extend our Winter series to include April (in 2011) and May will morph into Fundy Summer Films with all screenings at 8 pm. Docs Wednesdays will continue until June however. We hope this will improve our Box Office during what has been a difficult seasonal transition.

Stats are also a good way to gauge the health of our Mandate. I offer an apples and oranges comparison but interesting nevertheless. And a huge thanks to Noemi, again, because she keeps this information readily accessible and accurate. Let’s take a look:

Stats: 2007 – 2008
June 30, 2007 – December 31, 2008 – 16 mos
72 films (25 Canadian)
160 screenings

Stats: 2009

Season Films Screenings Attendees
Winter 18 35 2,898
Spring 12 24 1,429
Summer 9 10 1,270
Autumn 27 43 2,507 (2 screening to charity)
Totals 66 112 8,104

Stats: 2010 (6 films yet to screen Nov 28 – Dec 19)

Season Films Screenings Attendees
Winter 19 31 2,707
Spring 11 17 1,202
Summer 7 8 652 (2 screening to charity)
Autumn 23 36 1,735
Totals 60 92 6,296 to date (6 films yet to screen)

We have not yet repeated the Blockbuster phenomenon of the likes of Bowling for Columbine or An Inconvenient Truth which really skews the financial picture. And yet we can see from these figures that there is general attendance stability, even with schedule changes. At this time I would like to acknowledge the brain-storming efforts of a Fundy Film Marketing Committee (marke slipp, Bev Bliss, Rachel Brickner and Geoffrey Whitehall), some who met together, others only exchanged ideas via the internet, but all of your efforts and ideas are appreciated, well documented and available, so I hope there may be future exploration building on your work. Thank you all.

This is obvious: how we choose our films is so very critical and makes all the difference to the success or failure of a series. And I am not just talking finances here. Film selection is an art. It is challenging and demanding work because of the realities of film distribution, new technologies, the economy (with rises in our costs as well as how much people have in their pockets to spend); and competition from other cultural forms and activities. The efforts of the Selection Committee are to be applauded. Some of these folks attend every single meeting faithfully. Some send recommendations to Fundy Film year round from home or from exotic corners of the cinephile’s world; others keep on-going lists to bring to the table. So at this time I would like to thank Bill Zimmerman, Bev Bliss, Bob Brown, Geoffrey Whitehall, John Robichaud, Lee Lewis, Mary Costello, Megan Haliburton, Michaele Kustudic, Mike Butler, Ned Zimmerman, Noemi Volovics, Rachel Brickner and Susan Hauer for any and all contributions made to our film selection efforts.

Our audiences send us film suggestions too. And some of their films are a part of our our series. Their interest in Fundy Film is always appreciated and acknowledged.

In addition to an excellent season of films to present to our public, we also need a solid base of publicity to let them know what they are. I have sung the praises in past Reports of the many people who contribute to and cooperative with Fundy Film’s ability to reach audiences through all forms of media and Internet opportunities. This is ongoing and so is our gratitude. Some of the exciting changes to report this evening, however, centre on the efforts of Fundy Film member James Skinner who, with consult from Board member, Mike Butler, gave our Facebook site a wonderful Facelift. Building on original work of former summer employee, Julie Harris, and former Board member, Azura Goodman, it is really super! So spread the word. Thank you James, and Mike. Along this line I want to also thank Wil Zimmerman who not only keeps our web site up-to-date (with my assistance) but has also established Fundy Film on Twitter that now also features a link to trailers.

Another area James Skinner is successfully cracking, bit by bit, is the great Acadia Nut, i.e. how to reach the students. Thanks to James we are working with two groups who are trying to do outreach in the Wolfville community: AXE Radio and the Acadia Students’ Union. These are major breakthroughs with the University for Fundy Film and James is building on other initiatives during this Report period which include a very successful additional screening of Easy Virtue we arranged for resident assistants and frosh leaders in August 2009; with meetings held with two members of the ASU executive; with more consistent sharing of Fundy Film’s upcoming films appropriate to specific university departments and courses; exchanges with professors who have asked for and brought their students to particular films; and weekly PSA reminders to the faculty. At this time I’d like to acknowledge Rachel Brickner, our Board Member from Acadia, who faithfully helps me with these weekly and seasonal efforts.

Our brochure continues to be a significant PR tool for Fundy Film. New FFS member, Karen Maser, has taken on the task of getting brochures out and about Town, along with series posters initially, and keeps an eye out for renewal needs during the season. We welcome you to Fundy Film, Karen, and thank you for jumping in and lending an important hand. Getting our materials out to the wider community, however, has not been as consistent in recent years. We could use some people connected to these area to get a few posters and brochures out at the beginning of each new season. If you live or work in Grand Pré, Port Williams, Canning, Kentville, New Minas or Windsor please ask us for materials to take to local outlets. Or if you would like to coordinate a team to look after the hinterlands, please get in touch.

Now I’d like to share with you some screening highlights from the past two years. For your interest, I have first created a list that displays the films screened for each year during this AGM period that brought in the most people. Except for one film, I have only included films with an audience over 250. I have also created another list of films in each year that reflect special screening events or screenings of note. This is the part of my report that represents the heart of our mandate.

2009 – Largest screenings

M Jan 11 & 12: (3) Rachel Getting Married (285)
M Jan 25 & 26: (3) Happy Go Lucky (265)
M Feb 8 & 9: (3) The Secret Life of Bees (384)
E Mar 15: (2) Stone of Destiny (270)
M April 5 &6: (3) The Reader (275) (Almost lost to Canada Post!)
FSF August 30 & 31 (2) Easy Virtue (314)

2010 – Largest screenings

F Jan 31 Coco Before Chanel (267)
F Mar 7 A Single Man (262)
F Mar 14 Precious (262)
F Mar 28: The Young Victoria (327)

2009 – Films to remember

D Jan 21 – The Singing Revolution (68)
Only 68 people attended this film, but I can’t recall more energy, enthusiasm and excitement for a film. People were still talking in the lobby long after the film had ended. The buzz was extraordinary. I won’t forget it.

FSF Aug 30 & 31 – Easy Virtue (314)
As mentioned earlier, this was a great connection for Fundy Film and Acadia students. Working with, yes, Dean Martin, Residence Operations Manager, Residence Life, Acadia University was a pleasure and the students seemed to really enjoy their outing to the Al Whittle Theatre with Fundy Film.

S Oct 13 (Tues) – Che Part 1: The Argentine
S Oct 15 (Thurs) – Che Part 2: Guerilla
Rachel Brickner arranged for Dr. Robert Huish, Assistant Professor in International Development Studies at Dalhousie University, to kick off the first screening with a discussion about the factors leading to the Cuban revolution and he was on hand after to answer questions about Che’s life and legacy in Cuba. Dr. Huish has done extensive research in Cuba, focusing on Cuban nationalism as well as the country’s medical system and we enjoyed him so much that he returned for Che Part 2 as well. The Fundy Film Society is very pleased and proud to be able to provide this kind of opportunity for our audiences.

F Oct 25 – Cairo Time (244)
This is one of the few Canadian feature films we screened over this period that was well attended.

S Oct 29 (Thurs) – Pre-Halloween Double Bill: Pontypool and Let the Right One In
Our wonderful Board jumped in to take a chance on this first Fundy Film Double Bill, and we did OK! (Those who attended had fun too!)

S Nov 24 (Tues) – Four Feet Up (NFB and Fundy Film Society Valley Première) (230)
We also were treated with young Isaiah’s charming animation, Fruit Party. We grossed $1,552.81. After our rent, the free-will offering went to Feed Nova Scotia and the Isaiah Fund.

Filmmaker Nance Ackerman was on hand for this Valley Première and joined a panel with Debbie Reimer (the social worker who is in the film), Jen (Isaiah’s mother/subject in the film) and Becky Mason (Feed Nova Scotia). Christopher Ball (cinematographer), Kent Martin (NFB executive producer) and Jamie Alcorn (sound recordist, composer and music performer) were also among the guests. The screenings were well attended and the film continues to make an impact wherever it is shown.

2010 – Films to remember

D May 26 – In the Footsteps of Steps of Marco Polo-
In addition to being a captivating travel adventure, Fundy Film attempted our *First Filmmaker Skype*. Denis Belliveau, an the Emmy nominated filmmaker, author, explorer agreed to “join us in the Al Whittle Theatre” after the screening of his film _from his home in NYC. Dennis has Acadian roots from Belliveau Cove, NS. Our audience was thrilled with the experience and so was Denis: the questions were intelligent and he answered candidly with much humour. A wonderful Fundy Film memory!

S Aug 29 – Colvlle (240)
We wanted to do something for Alex Colville’s 90th Birthday. Work began on this in early in 2010. Thomas Voss was a great help because he became friends with the German filmmaker, Andreas Schultz, while the crew was here making the film. We also worked with Andrew Steeves of Gaspereau Press, Laurie Dalton of the Acadia Art Gallery and Alex and Rhoda’s daughter Anne Kitz. In the end, Alex Colville and some members of his family attended the 4:00 screening. Thomas Voss read translated greetings from Andreas Schultz and the audience spontaneously sang “Happy Birthday” after the film. Alex graciously greeted people in the lobby. It was a most satisfying celebration. We grossed $2,138.20. After our rent, the free-will offering went to the Valley Hospice Association, one of Alex and Rhoda Colville’s most supported local charities.

The Society considers it a part of its mandate to cooperate with others in the community to bring good film to the Al Whittle Theatre or compliment what others are doing with an appropriate film. Highlights of this period include:

Feb 1 – Man with a Movie Camera.
Acadia University School of Music screened this 1929 Soviet silent film with our help. Students played an original score live – for the “Shattering the Silence” Conference.

D Oct 21- Proceed and Be Bold
To compliment Gaspereau Press’ 10 annual Waysgooze we took much delight in screening this little doc about a wonderful character. His print work was on display in Jack’s Gallery for the screening and he was the guest at this year’s Waysgooze. It was wonderful to meet this inspiring artist in person, watch him work and hear his philosophy of life during the panel on Sat., Oct 23, 2010 in Kentville.

Nov 6-8 Slow Motion Food Film Festival (Slow Food NS)
Fundy Film’s Susan Hauer and Wil Zimmerman attended an initial planning meeting for this new festival with Michael Howell in January 2009 and basically offered our personal support on behalf of Fundy Film to: arrange films from the Circuit, do the Box Office reports for Circuit films, suggest films (that were included in the Fest), encouraged Michael to contact Bob for official Fest film selection committee and included info in both our brochure and web site and link to the Fest site. As the volunteer manager of the theatre, Wil also donated some time around projection. The Society also donated Circuit handling fees of Fest films and some shipping.

Nov 17 – Town & Gown Sita Sings the Blues
Fundy Film screened this delightful animation on two dates: one as part of our Autumn schedule but the first was for a collaboration between Town & Gown to introduce students to and get them out into the community. Only two students took advantage of this free screening.

This film is also important because it introduced us to the concept of “Creative Commons” work. “Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. We provide free licenses and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any combination thereof.”

Speaking of cooperation and collaboration a group of cinephiles, including many fans of Fundy Film and Board members, worked like mad day in and day out over this AGM period to secure a part of the Light and Shadow Collection and keep a great rental video establishment in Town. Our long-serving Board secretary, Megan Haliburton, opened Cinematopia, a new and terrific shop born out of her dedication to great film and peoples’ right to rent! Congratulation, Megan! Fundy Film appreciates what you do and is happy to exchange poster when either is in need. And thanks to Noemi for her helping role in this venture too.

My new friend, Sheila Morrison was a strong Fundy Film supporter. She became a member at our Feb. 2009 meeting. Two months later she died suddenly leaving many in shock and grieving. Her life-long partner, John Robichaud, here tonight, and Sheila together recommended Baraka to us at a Fundy Film meeting they attended, as a great film to usher in a new era with the digital cinema projector. John continues to support Fundy Film— working with us on film selection and plotting with James. We are most grateful for his presence. And I for one know that Sheila’s spirit is with us too.

Yes, it is the people that make this Society what it is. Our Board is faithful and wise. I thank each one of you for “being there” and making it all happen. Thank you for continuing with us and for your faithful support. Megan, while continuing on the Board, is taking a well-deserved break from the secretary role, but without any fuss, Michaele Kustudic is stepping up to the task. Thank you Michaele for your initiative and again, thank you Megan for doing the job as long as you did. Speaking of long at it, Mary Costello holds one of the records. She’s still cracking the whip to keep our volunteers at the door. Our gratitude for so many years of keeping this all straight, Mary. Al Whittle, whom we treasure, is faithfully at the door every Sunday at 4 (unless he down with a flu). Having him there means so much to all of us and we thank him. Finally, there’s Trevor Dagleish. He hauls the films and helps us keep track of them with great humour and total responsibility. Only Wil, Bob, Al and I really know what an important job he is doing. Trevor, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

So the future always offers challenges and opportunities. But our star is bright. I’d like to see some work on broadening the base of leadership for the Society. And Future plans – Studio-Z for smaller screenings, trailers, Shorts in Winter, more animations and WACKY revitalised are a few ideas still on the Society’s radar.

Thank you for another great period in the history of the Fundy Film Society.

And thank you all for coming out tonight.

Yours sincerely,

Susan J. Hauer
November 24, 2010, Studio-Z