Grahame N's Web Pages


September 2011

A report from Grahame Newnham


Each year a different country hosts an amateur film competition for 9.5mm amateur films. This year (2011) it was the UK's turn again. The event seems to have been jinxed - back in 2010, Group 9.5 (the UK 9.5mm club) discussed the event and our ever enthusiastic Hon Treasurer, the late David Erskine, suggested merging the event with our annual Get-Together at Harpenden (this year's event marking 50 years of Group 9.5); he also volunteered to co-ordinate the events. Then early in 2011 David tragically died leaving a rather large gap in the organisation of these events. In the Spring one of our regular projectionists and helpers John Ferrari suffered a heart attack (he is now doing fine, by the way); and within a few weeks of the International itself, the club President Roger Spence, who was assembling the actual 9.5mm amateur film entries and would normally be the main projectionist, suffered a stroke (get better soon Roger!). The whole project seems to have been doomed!

Luckily Group 9.5 Chairman Graham Murray and his wife Pat took on the onerous task of organising the two merged events. As it happened, thanks to their fantastic hard work, the event went off quite smoothly, even though we had few details of the films that were entered, and in fact films were still being handed in on the days of projection!

Around forty people came for the full four days of the festival, more just for the weekend - a group from the Nederlands, two couples from France, another from Germany and ... a couple all the way from the USA! Plus of course a good number from the UK (including Scotland!).

Thursday September 8th

The event began on Thursday 8th September 2011 with registration at the hotel and a quiet afternoon for a local stroll or natter with other enthusiasts. The evening was the first of two - held in the nearby Harpenden Halls - for projection of the various 9.5mm amateur film entries. Unfortunately for me, I had drawn the short straw for projection, and with only half an hour to get equipment set up and checked - not an enviable task. An additional problem was that we had expected only sound on stripe and cassette - as it turned out three films had sound on CD, but that was hurriedly sorted! However it was a nightmare switching cables from cassette to CD and stripe - I'm happier running printed films that I have checked and spooled up beforehand! Finally one of my converted Elf/Eiki 9.5mm machines which had been running beautifully the previous weekend at my home, decided to play up - no doubt bumping about in the car hadn't helped!

The competition was in two parts - normal 9.5mm amateur films (not entered previously) and an extra section for two minute entries. The films in the main category presented on Thursday were:-

1. Festival of Callela - by Graham Murray - (sound stripe) - a documentary on the annual 9.5mm Festival held in Callela, Spain

2. Central Scotland - by John Ferrari -.(sound stripe) - a look at some of the unique landmarks in Scotland, with comic relief from a backwards sliding dog!

3. Forgotten Treasures of Bexley - by Graham Sinden - (sound stripe) - a slick looking portrait of a little known historical landmark.

4. Housewives Choice - from Michael Snellgrove - (sound CD) - not made by him, but a 1950s I.A.C. competition winner - a very funny film, but disqualified from any awards.

5. Manhattan Melody - by Graham Murray - (sound cassette) - a beautiful juxtaposition of 1920s New York and modern cityscapes, utilizing new footage matched with clips from an old 9.5mm documentary repurposed.

Friday September 9th

The day began with a visit to Woburn Abbey and Safari Park. The Abbey was very well presented, the items on display including many lovely paintings including family portraits, were in really pristine condition. Also stacks of antiques including silver and gold treasures and details of a beheading for treason - the fellow was later found 'not guilty'! Then the Safari Park with close encounters with all manner of friendly and wild animals. Then back to the Harpenden Halls for the second screening evening. First the remainder of the longer films, then the two minute entries:-

6. The Art of Suicide - by Grahame Newnham - (sound cassette) - a black & white comedic look at a very poor candidate for suicide.

7. The French Connection - by Roger Spence - (sound stripe) a documentary on a French wine celebration.

8. A compilation film by the Ninefivers from the Nederlands - (sound stripe) - a last minute addition.

9. An Australian tongue-in-cheek documentary about a nine five filming/processing demonstration, with a nice tribute to Group 9.5's 50th anniversary.

Two minute films:-

1. Fishing In the Sky - by Angus Tilston (sound CD) - a beautiful look at kite flying.

2. The Parcel - by Grahame Newnham (sound cassette) - a black & white stop motion comedy.
(a vintage replacement for "I'm Walkin' " which was not ready in time)

3. Maiden Voyage Departure - by Angus Tilston (sound CD) - a Liverpool related documentary regarding a ship launch from the 1930s.

4. Fakenham Race Course - by John Collins (sound cassette) - one man's take on the races.

5. Hetty's Happy Hour - by Hugh Hale (sound stripe) - a raunchy vacuum cleaner? Hard to believe but ingenious and hilarious.

With the competition entries finished, I ran a short 9.5mm optical sound demonstration with the Betty Boop cartoon "Old Man of the Mountain"; "Pathe Vox Review Number 2" and "Multum In Parvo" a Pathescope demo/test film. Then back to the hotel for a stiff drink and dinner!

Saturday September 10th

The day began with a coach tour around London, pausing at Westminster Square for views of Parliament and Westminster Abbey and a quick coffee/snack break. Then off to the Cinema Museum in South London, currently housed in what was an old workhouse where Chaplin and his mother are purported to have spent some time in his early youth. A lovely building with interesting artefacts, but most of the collection is still in storage and they have been there for a few years now and the lease is soon to expire.....! Anyhow after an interesting tour, a DVD film about Kodak's last day's of Kodachrome processing, then a reel of 35mm cinema shorts - a cartoon and a Tiger Woman serial episode.

Back to the hotel for the celebration dinner (actually not as good as the previous evening meals, despite being £10/head dearer!) and the awards for the 36th Annual International 9.5mm film Competition:-

The international judging panel awards:

3rd place - Manhatten Melody - by Graham Murray

2nd place - Central Scotland - by John Ferrari

1st place - The Art of Suicide - by Grahame Newnham (as Dino Everette comments - I was absolutely shocked to say the least!)

Best 2 minute film - Fishing In the Sky - by Angus Tilston

Audience Award:

Hetty's Half Hour - by Hugh Hale

Sunday September 11th

The day of Group 9.5's 50th Annual Show and Get-Together - this year celebrating 50 years of Group 9.5 (and many of us were there near the beginning as teenagers, now grumpy old men!). The venue (Harpenden Halls) is in my opinion, ideal. Two nice halls, one for the dealers' stalls and bring and buy tables; the smaller hall for the talk/film shows and auction. A good refreshment room doing teas/coffees not to mention all-day breakfasts and excellent sausage sandwiches! Also car parking at the rear and on Sunday free parking on the single yellow lines around the venue. Plus just a few minutes walk from the hotel and railway station.

Anyhow, the biggest crowd for some years, over 100 through the doors, the number has been increasing over the last few years. Maybe swelled by a talk by film historian Kevin Brownlow and a screening of the 9.5mm silent print of "The Italian Straw Hat" made in France in 1927 by Rene Clair (which had had the notched titles replaced by running titles and an excellent stripe sound track added by John Ferrari). The smaller hall was filled to capacity for this talk and film show, standing room only! Dealers seemed to do well and the bring & buy table and the auction had the highest turnovers ever! To round off the day, the prize winning 9.5mm film entries were screened again - for a change to a reasonable size audience.

My Overall Verdict

Well the Sunday annual Get-Together went very well I think. (It's not easy running a stall and showing films, but maybe next year this can be sorted!)
For the International Film Competition - my feelings are mixed. As a social event I think it works well, many people have not met for a year and everyone seems to enjoy the chit-chat and banter (not to mention technical conversations!).

However, few of the films were new - in fact although I supply the Fuji 9.5mm camera film in the UK, I'm not really a film maker, more a collector of printed films and equipment - however there were so few entries, I began making a new 9.5mm film (sadly not finished in time because I went down with a nasty 'flu type bug) and entered a 9.5mm film made many years ago which then went on to win the first prize!! Most film makers now use digital, many of the regular ninefive filmmakers have sadly died or are too old to be involved. I think we had just one new film maker ('good on you' Graham S.!) but unless there are people making new 9.5mm amateur films I think we are now wasting our time recycling old material at these events. It is also rather sad that a few people are so ignorant as to talk not only through introductions, but during the films themselves. I suppose being used to sitting in front of a TV set is one cause - the reason I prefer to watch films on a big screen in the comfort and quiet of my own home!

Anyhow I have a couple of 9.5mm films part made, so I must at least 'get my finger out' and try to finish them for next year's UK 9.5mm amateur film competition!
Incidentally next year's UK Group 9.5mm Annual Show & Get-Together is provisionally booked for Sunday 21st October 2012 at the same venue - The Harpenden Public Halls, Southdown Road, Harpenden, Herts, AL5 1TE, UK..

(Much of this article is culled from the excellent reports filed on the Internet 8mm Forum (9.5mm section) by our American vistor Dino Everette - many thanks Dino - I owe you one!)

Grahame Newnham/18September2011




First published March 2004 ........ Last updated: 21 September 2011 ........ cel14.htm .......... ©MMV-G.L. Newnham