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FDS FILM AWARDS 2023: an unrivalled display of talent and community.

People taking their seats. All images courtesy of FDS.

The Film Departmental Society’s (FDS) awards ceremony was a triumphant celebration of UOB’s cohort of film students, a testament to the committee’s hard work and the pride of the Film and TV department’s staff.

When I received my invitation to cover FDS’s awards ceremony, I didn’t think much of it. For me, these events are usually an excuse to drink and eat on somebody else’s dime, and maybe grab a few morsels of gossip (don’t worry there is more gossip later). As I entered the Watershed’s private hire rooms (early, but in that awkward way where you know you should have left the house later) I expected a similar night, some food and drink, the odd interview, in bed by 9 PM. But this celebration was more than that, I really felt the authenticity in the applause, the appreciation for good craftsmanship, and I felt very included in the festivities. I should add that I have some very good friends on the film course, but even those that I didn’t know were welcoming and friendly. I have to also mention the fashion of the evening. The girls looked gorgeous! Lovely dresses, gorgeous gowns… and the boys were there too. Of course, I’m joking, most of the boys there dressed more interestingly than the average man at a red carpet event, which was refreshing.

Katie Spall, Sammy Garrett, Jack Baslay, and me (in order)

The ceremony itself was how all ceremonies should be, efficient, slick, and interesting. Each category was helped by a well put together trailer of all of the nominations, followed by a clip of the winning film, after the announcement. The two emcees for that portion of the evening were both lecturers at the department, and many of the staff bought tickets for the event. I had a chat with Katie Mack, Senior lecturer in the department, about her thoughts of the night, and her students. She said that her and her faculty members were incredibly proud of all of the work that the committee had done, and her students. She added that she was especially proud of her third years, considering that they had lost a year’s worth of practical lessons and social opportunities, due to COVID. I could really feel that sense of pride from both staff and students, with every single nomination receiving thunderous applause and cheers from all.

The categories and winners were:

1 minute film – Sticky Situation.

Animation – Mr Polygon.

Experimental film – Step on Me.

Documentary – Heart is Harm.

Narrative – Lost Connection.

Kate Adams and Elise Williams accepting their award for Step On Me

After the ceremony, while everybody was descending upon the catering, I had a chance to interview Max and Sammy, the two main organisers of the event, to discuss the evening.

Why did you do it?

Sammy: “The University of Bristol, itself, as a Russel Group fundamentally doesn’t respect the Arts, which is unfair, because if you are offering those courses then you should give it an equal emphasis. So, we thought as students, if no one else is going to do it, we would ourselves.”

Max: “we all formed a really close group in second year as well, because it is such a collaborative degree that you need a way to connect with other film students”

Are you proud of how tonight has gone?

Sammy: “honestly so proud of how it has gone. It was really stressful to organise but all of that is forgotten now because it’s so rewarding to see everyone having fun!”

Why did you choose this democratic process for deciding winners, instead of saying, letting lecturers judge?

Max: “I think it made sense for us to do, I think there’d have been backlash if we hadn’t. Obviously, lecturers have marked these films, so it would be quite unfair.”

Do you think that your colleagues have all voted based on which film is best, or is it a bit of a personality contest?

Sammy: “To some extent, it is, but there are some results that have really surprised us.”

Max: “a lot of them were third year films, so that kind of split the vote in some places”.

Sammy: “But I’m also surprised that it wasn’t much of a personality contest, I really don’t think it translated into the winners at all, I think it was very reflective of the best films.”

If you were to do it again, what would you change?

Max: “I think we said that we would change the categories. We wanted a comedy category and wanted to balance it out a bit more.”

Sammy: “I think we would have had a lot more traction and entries if we were to do it again.”

I wanted to shoutout Max and Sammy for their amazing work organising the whole event (and specially to Max for inviting me for free!) they both did great work and should be very proud of themselves.

Max (media Manager) and Sammy (President), organisers of the festival.

After the food, drink and revelry at Watershed, there was an afterparty at the Lost and Found, and dear reader, I would have been giving you half of the story if I didn’t go! This cohort is one that wears its incestuous drama on its sleeve! Usually, people don’t want to talk to journalists without getting something in return, but people were just throwing gossip around like chips in a casino! Every single department at a university is a more tangled web of relationships, sex and drama than the average Habsburg family tree, but the refreshing thing about the Film Dept. is their honesty! I was told multiple times about the infamous “web” that was created, chronicling the epic relations of the majority of third years.

Gossip and sex aside, what the FDS film festivals’ awards celebration showed me was that UOB have been lucky enough to educate the next generation of filmmakers. Not only was talent and expertise on full display that night, but so was the love a comradery that FDS have created among their fellow students.