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From Dave’s Desk
October 2018

The 80th UNICA, in Blansko (CZE) was a happy, successful congress and festival, during which we elected a new committee.

The 80th birthday cake for UNICA.

Blansko was fun

I was frankly worried beforehand. We had lost some of the key people, the organisers and leaders. Hardly any of those left in charge had had experience of UNICA. There were political issues lurking behind the scenes. But once we started, I could relax. People arrived, fell in love with the town, the attractive cinema and the teams who looked after us. Technically it was perfect – even in the snack tent outside one screen showed the film currently presented in the cinema. A second screen showed a countdown to when it ended and the next was due to start.

The UNICA 2018 logo showing a cartoon lion.The Czech lion was lovely!  Created by master animator, Jaroslav Nykyl, the cartoon lion started the day, destroyed any mobile phones left switched on in the cinema and introduced national programmes.


There were two late changes in the jury. A lady from Czechia backed out in order to take charge of a television special marking the 100th anniversary of the independent state. A lady from Norway had health issues and her doctors forbad her to fly. Thus, we had the team known as “The Magnificent Five plus one”.

The UNICA 2018 Jury.

The five jurors were Martin Štoll (CZE), Tarmo Hotanen (FIN), Alfons Hereu (ESP), Thomas Schauer (AUT) and Mike Whyman (GBR). The “plus one” was jury co-ordinator Rolf Leuenberger (CHE). Their discussions of the films were much appreciated. I noticed at the end of their first 8-programme day they all looked ready for sleep. At the end of the second such day they were much brighter. I discovered that Erich Riess had provided cans of Austria’s power-drink, Red-Bull.


During the week there were two seminars. One was a talk by Germany’s Jürgen Liebenstein on Data Protection in the light of the new EU laws. His website www.runamind.de  is a very  useful resource. The other involved splitting into groups to share ideas that might help clubs.
You can find full reports on Data Privacy here and Best Club Practice here.


The jury were sparing in their awards. In the main category: 2 golds, 2 silvers, 13 bronzes and 10 diplomas of honour. In the film school category: 2 golds, 2 silvers, 4 bronzes and 2 diplomas of honour.

The best jeunesse film award went to Britain’s Gage Oxley for his film Pulse.

Prix International CICT-UNESCO "Delmiro de Caralt" (The Fellini Medal) went to Sweden’s Peppe Andersson for her film I Have to Save the World a Little.

Sweden also won the coveted award for Most Interesting National Programme.

The World Minute Movie Cup was judged by the audience, as usual. The two third prizes went to The Miracle Healer by Ernst Thurner (AUT) and On/Off by Frida Andersson Haase (SWE). Second place was Dream Team’s Dream Goal (NLD) and the winner by a nose was Dry West by Dieter Leitner’s group (AUT).

Still from  'Sealed Time'.
Still from Gold Medal winner Fõrseglad Tid (Sealed Time)
by Tuna Õza (SWE)
See full details of all the awards here.


There are too many people to thank them all here, but special praise to Jaroslav Bouše and his team for the technical work, Jaroslav Jeřábek and his team at the Culture Centre. Mgr. Lenka Lázňovská and Ing. Pavlína Čermáková from the Arts and Culture Ministry in Prague. The city’s mayor, Ivo Polak, made the occasion possible and attended often. Jaroslav Kolcava represented our hosts the CVU and demonstrated the use of his drone camera.

UNICA would not work without our team of translators. This year Odilon Dubost took the lead, brought his friend Stefan Eich (whose entertaining style was very popular), our friend Romy Van Krieken returned and we were joined by a Czech translator, Hana Staňková. The moderator for the week, who made the introductions and stage announcements was the wonderful Monika Haskova, a popular juror and guest at festivals all over central Europe.

The Culture Centre Team for UNICA 2018 in Blansko'.

The Culture Centre team.


This was an election year and there were many candidates. Under the statutes three long-serving people stood down. Each was awarded an engraved glass plaque to thank them for their years of service.  In the elections Jeanne Glass (FRA) lost her post as Vice-President. There will be appropriate thanks to her at the UNICA 2019.

 Portrait of Rolf Mandolesi.
Portrait of Wolfgang Freier.
Rolf Mandolesi (ITA) who served 24 years on committee.
Wolfgang Freier (DEU) who served on Patronage 15 years, on committee 12 years Friends of UNICA 2 years
Portrait of Zeljko Balog.
Portrait of Jeanne Glass.
Zeljko Balog (HRV) who served 21 years on committee and organised the WMMC.
Jeanne Glass (FRA) who served as Vice-President for 12 years.

We are a new committee

  • Thomas Kräuchi – our longest-serving member was Technical Officer 1994 to 2009 and Treasurer since 2004.
  • Bernhard Lindner – appointed a special adviser for jury matters in 2014. Elected Vice-President in 2015.
  • Dave Watterson (President), Tatyana Alahverdzhieva, Mitze Chapovski and Franka Stas(Advisors) – all elected in 2015
  • Jacqueline Pante – appointed Secretary-General in March 2017, confirmed by the 2017 General Assembly.

The following were elected in 2018:

Portrait of Andrzej Przezdziecki. Portrait of Wolfgang Allin. Portrait of Eugy Van Gool.
Andrzej Przeździecki (POL) Vice-President Wolfgang Allin (AUT) advisor Eugy Van Gool (BEL) advisor 
Portrait of Zuzana Skoludova.
Portrait of Mike Whyman.
Zuzana Školudová
(SVK) advisor
Mike Whyman
(GBR) advisor

Why does it matter that we are new?

For many years UNICA has been organised by long-serving committee members. (See “History of the UNICA Committee” for details.) The benefit of this is experience and continuity. The disadvantage is the gradual reduction in enthusiasm for fresh ideas and energy to tackle changes. I mean no disrespect to individuals, without whose service we might not have a UNICA organisation today at all.

But we need to change.

I have never favoured “change for its own sake”. but the simple fact is that our movement is in decline. Most clubs suffer a reduction in membership. Most National Organisations are bleeding members. Many countries have left UNICA. Our annual Congress has had declining numbers. It was once usual to expect 300 attendees. The last few years have struggled to reach 150. If this continues, then it is not reasonable to ask National Organisations to go to the trouble and expense of organising the event.

When the committee meets at the end of November, I expect we will have plenty of ideas. How many will we be able to put into practice in the next year or two? I am always delighted to hear ideas and suggestions from anyone who reads this. (president@unica-web.com).

Where are we going?

Map showing where the next four UNICA Congresses will be held.
2019 we head for Zeist (NLD).

We will be based in the Hotel Figi, which has its own built-in cinema.
Travel via Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and then train to ‘Driebergen-Zeist'. The Utrecht Taxi Centrale (UTC) offers a special taxi fare from the station of € 11.00 pp.  You can also come by train from many places, often with a change in Utrecht.

2020 we will be in Birmingham in Britain.
There are direct flights from lots of airports to Birmingham International – many by low-cost airlines.

2021 we are offered the chance to go to Warsaw, Poland.

2022 we will be offered the chance to go to Kherson in Ukraine.

Spread the word

Please try to convince as many film enthusiasts as possible to come to the UNICA Congresses. Yes, it is expensive to travel and to stay in hotels for a week, but it is a chance to refresh your film batteries. You can see the best non-commercial films of the world and meet like-minded people from many countries. It is a unique mix of pleasure and informal education. There is nothing quite like UNICA.

The Young UNICA Workshop

Let me end this newsletter as we started, in Blansko. The Czechs were determined that there would be a major educational event and Miroslav Tuščák from NIPOS (The Arts and Culture Ministry) threw his weight behind it. Sadly, he died early in 2018 and did not see how successful his efforts were.

19 young film makers from 14 countries working on different types of animation. Among their comments:

Maya (SWE) I have to start by saying that UNICA truly was an experience of a lifetime.
Amber (BEL) Here's a heartfelt thank you to all the wonderful people I met at the festival for the laughs, good vibes, friendship and for teaching me so many international swear words. It was enriching!
Gabriel (ROU) I would have never expected that friendship could establish so quickly. Not to mention how cool it was for us to be such a diversified group, being from so many different countries...just...awesome!
Vasile (ROU):  Most of us are still in touch. We got to know each other very well and these interactions not only do they help with honing your communication skills, but they also refine your personality and that is crucial.
Antonio (ITA) I'd really like to have another experience with UNICA like this again, hands down!
Juul (NLD) We all worked seriously and really hard, but we had a lot of fun.
Paula (DEU) It didn’t matter where we came from, we connected. Everyone was interested and wanted to learn.
Liam (SWE) But the absolutely best thing was the fantastic people and friends that both me and Maya are planning on meeting again someday.
Marcela (CZE/SVK) I had the privilege to meet so many new people and I believe many of them will be my friends for a long time. And with them I got to learn something new about the process of making an animation.
Shriya (CHE) If you have the opportunity to participate at a UNICA workshop, do it!

They all agreed on the quality of their tutors, who helped the group to work together and to complete their projects.
The students showed their affection at the closing ceremony when they gave gifts and a group hug to the teachers: Milan Šebesta, Michael Carrington, Jo Oz, Eliška Oz and Jakub Brokl.

Workshop 2019

One young film maker (18-25 years old) from each UNICA country can join the 2019 Young UNICA Workshop.

If there are spare places we can offer a second person from a UNICA country.

Accommodation, meals, Congress Card and tuition are all provided. The young person only has to pay for travel and several National Organisations even help with travel costs.  Details soon from the Dutch organisers … but start finding your candidates now. That leaves time for the film maker concerned to plan their summer and to start earning money if they must pay for their own travel.

P.S. Yes, my kilt did nearly fall off during the closing ceremony.

Portrait of Dave Watterson.

- Dave Watterson,
President of UNICA
Bath, United Kingdom
October 2018

YUW people at work.
Young Workshop members hug their tutors.
YUW people at work.