Chairman's Report 2005
It was a happy event in Ian Picken's family life that led to me sitting here delivering this report: his gain - a baby son - was our loss, in that it precipitated an end, last November, to five fine years of Ian's chairmanship of Keswick Film Club. He has been warmly thanked, of course, as have our other three leavers from the Committee since the last AGM: Brian Jimack, Ella Leibowitz and John Bennett, all of whom have given good service - in Brian's case, going back to the Club's earliest days, when he was Membership Secretary. We're very glad that Ian is happy to continue on the Committee, as long as circumstances allow, and a warm welcome goes to Richard Stead who has joined us, and who immediately makes his impact by lowering the average age of the Committee. May that trend continue... However it is sad to have to report that Katherine Anderson is leaving Keswick for a year so that we will not be able to rely on her expertise and organisational skills during that time - we just hope that her enthusiasm for all things cinematic will persuade her to return to the fold one of these days...
Turning to an examination of the Club's activities since March 2004, I'm glad to be able to report another successful year. We have screened more films than ever before, put on the most successful Festival yet, in terms of people attending and tickets sold, we have a very healthy 250 members, an increase of 14% since last year, and just last week we again won Best Programme at the BFFS Film Society of the Year Awards, and were runners-up, with a Distinction, for Best Website. All this does not happen without the huge input of volunteers' time, of course, on which we rely so heavily. The Selection Committee (David W Miller, Alan Smith and John Bennett) have just received proof of how highly their work is appreciated, and the very fact of so many people coming along to see the films (and thoroughly enjoying most of them) shows what wise choices they made - not just taking the easy route and programming what would obviously be popular, but also picking out the challenging, always intelligent, often foreign movies which open people's eyes and minds. The two most encouraging trends have been the increase in the size of our weekly audiences, and the perceptibly greater involvement of younger people, in both the Festival and the Sunday evening crowds.
The Festival benefited greatly from Alex Greenwood's ideas and expertise as Director, giving a new look and more youthful appeal to the whole event. She was supported extraordinarily well by the hard work and dedication of Alan Smith and Katherine Anderson - and of course all those other volunteers too numerous to mention individually. Here I should also thank the Allerdale Community Fund for a generous grant, the Cumbria Institute of the Arts for invaluable assistance with design and marketing, and also all our sponsors for their much-valued support.
Great plans are now afoot for developing the Festival, thanks partly to North West Vision's grant of £5000 which will pay the major part of a consultant's fee - a consultant who will explore for us the possibility of establishing sponsorship and partnerships, with a view to appointing paid staff and granting the Festival a larger degree of independence from Keswick Film Club. However I must stress that this is merely work in progress: no decisions have yet been taken.
We attracted another major grant from the UK Film Council, who contributed 80%, that is almost £5000, to enable the Club to acquire an up-to-the-minute facility for screening films digitally in any venue we care to visit. If the use of it has not yet come to your attention, that is because there has been a significant delay in delivery of some of the equipment, but we hope very soon to be operating with our brand-new sound system and screen to complement the projector which we acquired last year, and which has enabled you to enjoy short film DVDs in the Alhambra in recent months.
However, in my first Chairman's Report, I would like to finish as I began, talking about that other aspect of Keswick Film Club which seems almost important as our primary business of entertainment and education through film: that is, the people involved. We are fortunate indeed in being able to rely on such committed individuals as Tom Rennie to look after our financial management and the screening of our films in such a capable and unfussy manner, Stephen Brown to operate at long distance the design and upkeep of our website so successfully and conscientiously, Alan Smith who has come forward to take on the task of Secretary, and David Miller whose great energy in being able to combine chairmanship of the BFFS with his unfailing commitment to KFC is remarkable. Fortunate too to have so many friendly and appreciative members, whose cheerful acceptance of whatever we throw at them - with only the very occasional grunts of impatience - make the whole business of operating the Club a very worthwhile exercise. Thank you to everyone for their participation, great or small.
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Keswick Film Club won the Best New Film Society at the British Federation Of Film Societies awards in 2000.
Since then, the club has won Film Society Of The Year and awards for Best Programme four times and Best Website twice.
We have also received numerous Distinctions and Commendations in categories including marketing, programming and website.
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