Chairman's Report 2006
It is very pleasing to be able to report another good year for the Club - particularly as we are a not-for-profit organisation... Treasurer Tom Rennie will tell you considerably more in a few minutes, but if we measure our progress by achievement rather than by income, then all who have contributed, from our keenest enthusiasts to those few benefactors who seldom get to any of the screenings, can be satisfied that the Club is in good health. We appreciate members' continued support, and it is good to report that our membership has crept over last year's 250 mark.
In terms of personnel, I would remind you that Ian Picken stepped down from the committee soon after the last AGM and was warmly thanked for his years of service since the Club's inception. Ian was soon replaced by Darren Horne and then Nick Graham, both of whom have given us a real shot in the arm with skills, experience and enthusiasm which have been of tremendous benefit, and more recently Irena Grajewska has joined the committee to replace Alan Smith as Secretary. Irena too has a number of strings to her bow, and we look forward to her playing an increasingly important role in the organisation. And in addition to his contribution to KFC affairs, David W Miller continues to be an extremely effective Chairman of the British Federation of Film Societies, the leading figure in ensuring a valuable organisation's survival through difficult times in the last year or two. Stephen Brown deserves our gratitude for his enduring commitment to design and maintenance of the Club's website - the combination of his work with Nick's Festival website has produced something really impressive.
I have publicly thanked Alan three times already for his sterling efforts for the Club over the last five and a half years, but it is still a matter of great regret to see him go. However he will certainly make his mark in whatever sphere he decides to enter in the months and years ahead, and we wish him every success. Such are the rocks on which we build, and those of us crumbling a little at the edges trust that there will be a steady supply from the quarry to keep the organisation going.
Turning to the Club's three areas of activity, the weekly films, the Festival and 'KFC on the Road', there has been a very impressive effort put in by all involved. There have been 32 Sunday screenings since the last AGM, and audiences have again been numerous and pretty well satisfied: attendance has averaged around the 100 mark, and even when they haven't particularly liked a film, which is infrequent, members have tended to say that they welcome the chance of being able to experience something challenging. The opening films of the autumn and spring sections The Chorus and Howl's Moving Castle attracted the biggest audiences, but Downfall, The Sea Inside, Sophie Scholl and Vera Drake were the most popular. I'd particularly like to thank Tom Rennie at this point for his seemingly untiring willingness to make up, break down and project our films and manage our tenancy of the Alhambra. This is in addition to all he does as Treasurer, of course. And the rest of the committee have chipped in very willingly with all the other duties that go towards a successful season: film selectors, designers, notes and review writers, introducers, publicity and box office workers, and so on, and so on...
Alex Greenwood and her Film Festival Committee of Nick Graham, Alan Smith, Darren Horne (and your Chairman) worked hard, often under considerable pressure, devoting virtually all their available time to the Festival: think of all the effort that goes into programming, marketing, website, fund-raising, organising a short film competition, providing educational workshops, hospitality and a host of other practical requirements. The back-up of volunteers is crucial too, whether they are KFC Committee, Club members and friends, or Theatre volunteers: many thanks to them all. It was encouraging to note that half of those responding to the Festival questionnaire were Club members. Please keep on supporting the Festival as much as you can - it's important to have a sound home-base as well as attracting visitors.
The Festival Committee is to be congratulated on delivering a bigger and more successful event (in terms of numbers attending and income) than ever before - but it was expensive. Thirty four films were screened, and, ironically, the late replacement, Everything is Illuminated was voted Festival favourite. But the opening gala with Reza Bagher and his film Popular Music must have been the highlight for almost everyone. Looking ahead, branching out into extra screens, such as Rheged and the Theatre's Studio, seems to point the way forward for 2007 and beyond. The future is interesting: discussions are still under way concerning the Festival's independence, which needs the wider support of Cumbria's movers and shakers, and businesses, but it is not yet the intention to divorce the Club entirely from its clamorous offspring.
As for KFC on the Road, we have only just begun really, but it is a rewarding experience and much appreciated by village audiences. Many thanks to Richard Stead, Alex Moores and to Darren and Alan for their input. This initiative did us no harm at all when it came to the judging for the BFFS Film Society of the Year Awards, as competition was particularly fierce this year, and an all-round standard of achievement was looked for. So distinctions as runners-up for Best Website and Best Marketing were added to the mix and with our standard of programming and the quality of the Festival, these factors all came together to ensure that Keswick Film Club won the top award.
So we have been through some good times this year, but it is up to all of us, members and committee alike, to ensure that the Club continues to prosper through enthusiasm and commitment. We look forward to working with Alan Towers, our new landlord at the Lonsdale Alhambra, whose fresh approach to programming may exert a little influence on our own selections, but we have embarked on the new regime in a spirit of cordial co-operation.
And finally, if any members listening to this, or perhaps reading it later, would like to be more a part of the running of KFC, then we would be delighted to receive your offers of help. Thank you.
R.F.E. 26th March 2006
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