An Interview with Aideen Ratteray Pryse, Director of BIFF

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Aideen Ratteray Pryse is a founding member of Bermuda International Film Festival, Aideen has served as Festival Director since 1997. Aideen trained as an urban planner, having obtained a Bachelor’s degree at McGill University and a Master’s at the University of Waterloo. She was formerly employed with the Bermuda Department of Planning as Assistant Director (Administration & Control). In addition to her film festival work, she is a member of the board of directors of the Centre on Philanthropy.

Cinema Without Borders: Please tell us about the Bermuda International Film Festival, how did it start and its approach to cinema at the present time.
Aideen Ratteray Pryse: BIFF started in response to a desire to experience arthouse films in the local theatres. Over the years, BIFF has responded to our audience’s enthusiasm for foreign language films and documentaries, as well as its willingness to support the new and emerging filmmakers. Hence, our programming combines a ‘festival of festivals’ approach in the World Cinema showcase, with competition sections for first- and second-time directors. Also, BIFF is a qualifying film festival for the Academy Award® in the Short Film Category and, as a result, has a fantastic range of short films on offer.

CWB: Are only movies from Bermuda participating in the Bermuda International Film Festival?
Aideen: This year we are screening 85 films from 32 countries. While Bermuda is one of the countries features, it is not the only one.

CWB:
How many movies are sent each year for the festival and how do you select the movies for the festival screening?
Aideen: We receive between 300 and 400 films in response to our call for entries. We select films for the competition sections from the submissions and augment the line-up with films we have seen at other film festivals. We select films we believe our audience will enjoy and aim to show as broad a range of films as possible so that film fans have a varied, exciting and thought-provoking experience.

CWB: What kind of presence does international cinema have at the Bermuda International Film Festival?
Aideen: Our World Cinema showcase highlights award-winning films from around the world. This year we are screening Cannes winners, European Film award winners and Academy Award® nominees, among others, during festival week. The international flavour of the festival is reflected in the competition sections as well, and includes features and documentaries from UK, Macedonia, Hungary, China, Russia, USA, Israel, Poland and Spain.

CWB: What are the highlights of Bermuda International Film Festival 2007?
Aideen: A highlight for 2007, our tenth edition, is a Tribute to Earl Cameron. Earl is a Bermuda-born 89 year old actor based in the UK who has had a 50+ year career in film, television, radio and on stage. His cross-cultural films of the fifties and early sixties are icons of the craft and, a short time ago, he was brought out of retirement by Sydney Pollack for a role in The Interpreter. Most recently, he had a role in The Queen. BIFF is screening the films Pool of London, Flame in the Streets and The Interpreter as part of this tribute.
Also, a highlight this year is the presence of Carrie Fisher and Richard Dreyfuss as co-chairs of the jury. It is a pleasure to have Carrie and Richard with us this year.

CWB: Does Bermuda International Film Festival have any sponsors and supporters?
Aideen: BIFF has the support of a wide range of the corporate community and, in addition, individual patrons, which enables us to stage this wonderful event.

CWB: What are your future plans for the Bermuda International Film Festival?
Aideen: We anticipate a similar number of high quality films in the line-up going forward and, as always, we seek to fine-tune the event each year so that it is a rewarding experience for sponsors, patrons and film goers.

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Bijan Tehrani

Bijan Tehrani a film director, film critic and writer, works as editor in chief of Cinema Without Borders while teaching Language of Film and Film History at workshops nationwide. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children's books.

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