BIAFF Founder Rounds Up 2016 BIAFF & 'I Daniel Blake'

The Batumi International Art-House Film Festival (BIAFF) screened 2016 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner ‘I, Daniel Blake’ Saturday night with a full hall of mixed-nationality audience members.

GEORGIA TODAY spoke exclusively to Festival Founder and Manager Zviad Eliziani prior to the close of the annual event, already in its 11th consecutive year.

“I’m very satisfied with the Festival this year,” he said. “There were no technical difficulties with copy quality. Georgia is unfortunately still under the Russian distribution system- sometimes they have rights but not copies of the films, but this year we had no issues in that regard. We always aim to present the best collection of Art House movies. Choosing the films is an on-going process throughout the year and we not only attend international film festivals but take advice from various international advisors.”

The festival entertained not only film-lovers but catered to those in the film-making industry, seeing organizers invited from France and Germany to give masterclasses in production and marketing, in both public and closed training sessions.

“We’ve been developing the Industry Platform for the past two years with producers from Tbilisi. This year’s BIAFF Industry Platform focused on low-budget projects, with 9 Georgian projects selected,” Eliziani said. “We had filmmakers, scriptwriters and producers for a 4-day intensive program of workshops, trainings, coaching and one-on-one meetings headed by a script doctor from Greece, well-known producer from Germany, Peter Rommel, Berlin based Georgian Dito Tsintadze and others.

Together, they provided Georgian film-makers with vital insight into producing and marketing low budget films and presented the potential for filming in regional locations through support schemes.

For next year they plan to expand on the workshop element and are already in touch with a number of special guests and workshop hosts.

I, Daniel Blake is a 2016 British drama film directed by Ken Loach and written by Paul Laverty. Starring Dave Johns, Hayley Squires, Dylan McKiernan, and Briana Shann, the film follows 59-year-old ex-joiner widower Daniel Blake who lives in North-East England. When he falls ill with heart disease he is advised to apply for out-of-work sickness benefit (state paid). But it is no easy task and, caught up in the bureaucracy, he struggles to survive, finding strength and focus by helping a disadvantaged single-parent family through their own difficulties- Katie and her two young children, who, in order to escape a homeless persons' hostel in London, had to take up residence in a flat 300 miles (480 km) away.

It is a sad reality for many in the UK, one that has been documented in various TV productions but until now received little international notice. 

While the drama plodded along and left some Georgian audience members struggling to comprehend the northern and London accents (thank goodness for the English subtitles!), many left the cinema with tears in their eyes as the credits began to roll, so caught up were they in the difficult reality of a typical English man strangled by the "red tape" of British legislation.

It was a poignant message to governments, one I hope Britain will heed and Georgia, too, before it too becomes so deeply stuck in bureaucratic processes that humanity and compassion are lost to rules and forms of conduct. 

And as for the BIAFF, we look forward to more in 2017.

By Katie Ruth Davies


25 September 2016 11:40