Category: BFI

Britain on Film: Rural Life

‘Machynlleth (In the Heart of Cambria)’

This is a compilation of short films shot in the British countryside (and in the north of Eire) between 1904 and 1981. It is part of the Britain on Film series which has already offered Railways and has a forthcoming compilation Black Britain. This is an archive project to ‘digitise’ thousands of films, originating on celluloid, and making them available for public viewing. These ‘tours’ are distributed by the Independent Cinema Office, who have an excellent track record of providing features and archive material to independent cinemas. I saw this compilation at the Hyde Park Picture House as part of the ‘Leeds Young Film Festival’.

Before the film we had an interesting introduction by Kate McGann, a curator with the National Film Archive in the documentary section. We had some notes with details of the films included in the compilation but she added some particular comments on especially interesting aspects. Her main thrust was to provide a context for these films. She commented that much of the period represented on the films had seen real ‘change and upheaval’ in the countryside. An aspect that is the focus of Laurie Lee’s memorable ‘Cider with Rosie’: Lee provided the commentary for one of the films.

She also talked about the changes in technology and style across the films. Cecil Hepworth, who made the earliest film in the programme, would have been working with bulky cameras, and the supporting equipment like tripods etc. It seems likely that he staged much of the action, seemingly merely observed. And since synchronised sound only arrived in the 1930s several film rely on title cards [intertitles] to provide information for the audience.

A little later Basil Wright, filming in the Cheviot Hills, was able to work alone with his camera and accessories, but the now available sound would have been added later in the studio. Both these films were in black and white. But another example from the Pathé Company used colour stencilling, one of several techniques like hand painting and tinting/toning for adding colour.

By the 1950s colour film stock had become available and the Technicolor brand offered a rich palette of colours on screen. We had two films that used this technology. (Note, you can see one of the Technicolor Cameras at the Insight Collection at the National Media Museum. Signposts re Science and Media Museum).

The camerawork in many of the films relies mainly on the static shot. As technology developed camera movements like pans and tracks became available. All the film used some sort of editing (cutting between shots), though the later films are more sophisticated .

The programme also illustrated a number of genres in what we now term documentary. The earliest would have been known as ‘actualities’. Early on there were also Newsreels, and there was an extract form one of these. And there were examples of ‘travelogues’, ‘marketing films’ and ‘public relations’, both commercial and state funded. Some of the later films came from television networks and a couple of films really fall into the amateur or ‘home movie’ category.

The compilation ran for 75 minutes. It was partly chronological but partly thematic.

Machynlleth (In the Heart of Cambria) | Dir: unknown | UK | 1929 | 2 minutes

This glorious Pathécolor film of the ancient capital of Wales pops with the beauty of rural life. “

This short film was essentially a travelogue. It offered a series of shots, beautifully coloured with hand stencils. These included shots of a valley, river, trees in blossom and sheep grazing.

There was an accompaniment on the sound track by piano and flute.

O’er Hill and Dale | Dir: Basil Charles Wright | UK | 1932 | 18 mins

The first sound documentary produced in the UK, this is an affectionate and at points humorous account of a Scottish shepherd’s daily life in the Cheviot Hills.”

Basil Wright has been described as a ‘humanitarian poet’. He was a member of the rightly famed British Documentary Movement. The film mainly uses single static shots with a couple of pans over the landscape. But Wright (filming himself) makes extensive use of angles, especially low-angle shots that emphasise the scale of the mountainous vistas. He also (later in the studio) edited the film into a mini-narrative. So after seeing the Shepherd, Martin, with his flocks drama ensues when a storm sweeps across the hills. This leads into a ‘happy’ ending with a lamb saved from expiring.

The commentary, by Andrew Buchannan, and the orchestral accompaniment were added later. And the film was seen in British cinemas courtesy of Gaumont British.

Great Hucklow Jubilee | Dir: L. du Garde Peach | UK | 1935 | 9 mins

These gorgeous scenes of Great Hucklow capture the Derbyshire village’s preparations for the celebration of King George V’s Silver Jubilee, presenting a charming portrait of life and laughter in the Pennine village.”

This is an example of amateur filmmaking in the period. L. du Garde Peach actually worked in the Film industry as a scriptwriter. One of his most famous contributions was co-authoring the 1935 Yorkshire -based Turn of the Tide. Here though he is showing off his locality and the Village Players whom he organised.

The film uses intertitles and was accompanied by a piano and percussion on the soundtrack.

‘Dry Village’ | Dir: Unknown | UK | 1964 | 5 mins

A cautionary tale of the ‘dry village’ of Bessbrook, Co. Armagh, whose founder believed that the absence of a pub would remove the need for both the police and pawn brokers.”

This appears to be an ironic offering from television reporter James Boyce, presumably working with a network team. The film offers a series of interviews and comments. Boyce’s offerings for viewers appear to have capitalised on the eccentric, this is a good example. There is no hint of the ‘troubles, only a few years away.

The Village Pet | Dir: Unknown | UK | 1931 | 1 min

After Billy the seal was caught in the Wash and rehoused in the village pond, this heart-warming newsreel item shows him tentatively accepting a fish supper from his adoptive family – the good folks of Warham in Norfolk.”

This is an extract from a ‘Topical Budget’ newsreel; a newsreel series that ran from 1911 until 1931. The film opens with a highly embroidered intertitle. Then we meet Billy and the village inhabitants, especially the children, enamoured with this occupant of the pond.

The film has an accompaniment by piano and accordion.

West of England | Dir: Humphrey Swingler | UK | 1951 | 10 min

Glorious Technicolor casts a dreamlike spell over Gloucestershire’s Stroud valleys in this gorgeous short film. Author Laurie Lee contributes to the script for a narration which accompanies painterly images of evergreen scenery, people and industry. “

This was a fine example of the lustrous palette found in Technicolor. The commentary is read by Stephen Murray. The film is full of glorious shots of the Stroud Valley, old buildings and a graveyard, valley slopes, smooth rivers and nestling tress and flora. Later we enter an old linen factory where the rich colours of the cloth exploit the colour process. The film is edited into a  gentle narrative. The opening shows a horse and rider wending their way down hill. There follow later some good example of forward and reverse tracking shots. The commentary proposes a ‘secret’ which is followed till we hear and see an explanation of the Stroud cloth industry. At the end the horse and rider wend their way back uphill; then a cut shows us a modern tractor, presumably as comment that Stroud is modernising.

The commentary and orchestral accompaniment were added at Merton Park Studio,. And the film received a cinema release from United Artists.

Cold War Villages | Dir: Unknown| UK | 1981 | 3 min

In 1981, with no end to the Cold War in sight, plans are afoot in the Midlands to prepare for nuclear attack. These include a bunker for 400 people in a Rutland village with a population of 300, while in Derbyshire a local landlord takes responsibility for the somewhat simplistic advance warning system.”

This looks like one of those programme fillers in regional television broadcasts. The reporter, Terry Lloyd, introduces two mini-stories related to ‘the nuclear threat’ with interviews with local people. Rather like the ‘dry village’ this looks like an ironic comment on eccentricity, possibly even invented. By 1981 (despite the 1984 TV film Threads) the nuclear question was less of an issue than that of US missiles based in Britain.

The first case is a plan to turn a disused Rutland railway tunnel into a commercial bunker; £2,000 for a single person. Predictably it was never built.

The second tale is a Derbyshire pub with an ‘early warning system’. Among the limitations of this device are the absence of a warning device. There is (almost certainly staged) film of the publican warning the village on his bicycle. It seems the village was spared a nuclear attack.

Any Man’s Kingdom | Dir: Tony Thompson | UK | 1956 | 5 mins (extract)

A standout from the British Transport Films collection of travelogues – this one highlighting the attractions of Northumberland, the northernmost part of England. In this extract people travel from far and wide to enjoy the delights of Bellingham Fair, which includes traditional Cumberland wrestling.”

This film has a commentary and an orchestral accompaniment with actual sound including traditional pipes. It offers shots of the people attending this traditional fair and of some of the attractions. There is a fine sequence of a country dance edited through a series of close-ups of the band and the dancers. Towards the end of this extract twilight falls and a young couple are seen in silhouette followed by a pan over a river. The film, in Technicolor, was finalised at The Anvil Studio.

Blacksmith | Dir: Peter Baylis | UK | 1941 | 5 mins

‘Things aren’t what they used to be’: Mr Bosley, village blacksmith at Corfe, near Taunton, is the subject of this nostalgic study of ancient craftsmanship. As his commentary talks us through the process of shoeing a horse, the patiently composed images gracefully evoke an ageless sunlit Somerset day.”

The film was part of a series on ‘craftsmen’ by the Shell Film Unit. This commercial film’s documentary unit was launched in 1934 and carried on to the present, now ‘The Shell Film and Video Unit’. Its output of mainly short films was an important contribution to British documentary. This film follows a farm horse into the forge as we watch the traditional techniques of shooing in a series of close-ups and mid-shots. .

Eardisland Village | Dir: Unknown | UK | 1978 | 5 mins

The residents of Eardisland, a picture postcard Herefordshire village, are unhappy about their impending conservation status which would curtail new development. How can a village continue to thrive with an ever ageing population and no new blood?”

This films is from ATV’s ‘Today series’ with reporter Peter Green and shot in colour.

The camera takes us round the village and a series of interviews with inhabitants. There are few young people and ‘conservation’ threaten to embed this further. The catalyst for this concern is the proposed closure of the village school. Added to this is the comment that they have even

‘taken the vicar away’.

Despite the film the school did close in 1979.

Day in the Hayfields | Dir: Cecil M. Hepworth | UK | 1904 | 3 mins

Enchantingly beautiful, Cecil Hepworth’s modest interest film captures the essence of an English midsummer and the harvest in a time before tractors with men cutting hay using a horse-powered reaper. Less productive but very charming are the local babies and toddlers playing in the cut grass.”

Cecil Hepworth is one of the most important pioneers from the early days of British cinema. One of his most famous titles was a the key contribution to canine cinema, Recued by Rover (1905). Here he is filming on location alongside the Thames near to his studio at Walton-on-Thames. The film offers a series of static shots, almost like tableaus. we see the harvesting, transport by horse and cart, and the local children playing.

There is an accompaniment on piano and accordion, as lyrical as the film itself.

Skating on Lough Neagh | Dir: Unknown | UK | 1963 | 2 mins

As the Big Freeze plays havoc with the working life of Northern Ireland, there is plenty of time for play. The frozen Lough is a call to the adventurous and the ridiculous as dogs, dancers and even drivers take to the ice.”

This appears to be either amateur footage or something filmed for a local television network. It appears that it is actually the ‘Black Lough’ at Dungannon. And like some earlier films it is partly a record of oddities and eccentricities, including a group performing the twist and a mini car travelling over the frozen lake.

The end credits of the compilation include Stephen Horne who performed the musical accompaniment for the films without soundtracks. Stephen is a multi-instrumentalist as demonstrated in the accompaniments.

The films came courtesy of BFI National Archive, the Media Archive for Central England and the Northern Island Screen Digital Archive.

They were all transferred on to a 2K DCP. All were in either 1.33:1 or 1.37:1 ratios. The image quality was generally good. Note, as usual the DCP was in 1.85:1 and the titles for the individual films was spread across the complete frame; this was a shame as it prevented the cinema bringing in the masking to the Academy ratio. The sound was variable, presumably partly due to older prints and also to transferring optical or magnetic tracks on to digital.

Definitely a programme worth seeing. And there is more information about the films, the series and ‘Britain on Film’ at the BFI.

A C20th ‘rotten borough’?

Wikipedia offers the following on ‘rotten boroughs’.

” A rotten or pocket borough, more formally known as a nomination borough or proprietorial borough, was a parliamentary borough or constituency in England, Great Britain, or the United Kingdom before the Reform Act 1832, which had a very small electorate and could be used by a patron to gain unrepresentative influence within the unreformed House of Commons. The same terms were used for similar boroughs represented in the 18th-century Parliament of Ireland.”

The term has graced the pages of ‘Private Eye’. I remembered this when I read the BFI announcement  kindly bought to my attention by Mark Newell.

“The BFI Board appointed Gerry Fox, long-time BFI Member and award-winning filmmaker, as a Governor (Member) for a renewable four-year term from February 2017.

The BFI is the lead organisation for film in the UK with the ambition to create a flourishing film environment in which innovation, opportunity and creativity thrive. We are a Government arm’s length body, a distributor of Lottery funds for film and a registered charity governed by Royal Charter.

The BFI Board of Governors, chaired by Josh Berger, includes one Governor (Member) position. When the post is next vacant, BFI Patrons, Champions and Members, with an active involvement and/or knowledge in film, will be eligible to apply as long as they have the support of at least two other Patrons, Champions or Members. Suitable candidates will then be interviewed by the Nominations and Appointments Committee who will make a recommendation to the Board of Governors.

Governor positions are unpaid, except for the reimbursement of travel expenses, but BFI Governors enjoy free BFI Membership and have opportunities to attend BFI and film industry events.

Please note that the BFI Board of Governors resolved in January 2016 that this application process should replace the election process as the last two elections were invalid because less than ten percent of the electorate voted.”

I do not know Gerry Fox, he is probably a nice person and good at what he does. But he does not represent the members. Representative democracy involves proper elections. It is not about ‘unrepresentative influence’ by Patrons and Champions who are considered suitable persons.

It would seem that Mr Fox lives and works in London, he has been an ‘artist in residence’ in Camden. So we have another member of the Metropolitan elite on the Board of Governors. As far as I can ascertain there is not a single member who lives and works outside the ”home counties’; certainly not from ‘up North’, Scotland or Wales. Recent BFI policy statement, including ‘Film Forever’, make commitments regarding ‘diversity’. A good place to start would be the BFI Board of Governors.

BFI Member Governors R.I.P.

Too many crooks

It would seem that we should mourn our representation on the BFI Board of Governors: the Members’ Representative is no more. The minutes of a series of meetings by the Board in 2015 have just been placed on the BFI Webpages. {My thanks to Mark Newell who bought this to my attention and provided other information]. This is the only notice that the Board has deemed to make. There is no notice as of yet on the BFI Webpages: and there are no Press Releases or Photo-ops as when a celebrity joins the Board. In fact I sent at least five emails to the Board office after no notice appeared in January [as promised] informing members about the status of a representative, but received no response.

Member Governor Election 2015

3.3 The results of the recent Member Governor election were outlined and discussed by the Board. The Board was informed that Peter Kosminsky had topped the poll, but a disappointing 5.1% of the electorate had participated. In accordance with the rules governing the Election (that require 10% of the electorate to participate) the election was therefore null and void, and as the turnout was so low, the Board regrettably determined that they should not again exercise their right to appoint the winning candidate regardless. It was acknowledged that Peter’s contribution to the Board over the last four years had been extremely significant and the Chair expressed his gratitude for Peter’s considerable efforts during his term.

3.4 Three elections had taken place since 2012 and on each occasion the turnout had been well below the 10% figure required for the election to be valid. It was noted that the cost of running an election was significant. In light of these two factors, the board questioned whether elections for a Member Governor should still take place. The Board acknowledged the value of reserving a Board place for a BFI member. As an alternative to an election, it was proposed that as the Member Governor position becomes vacant, members should be invited to nominate candidates who might meet specified skills requirements. A short list would then be drawn up and candidates interviewed by the Nominations and Appointments Committee. The Committee would then make a recommendation to the Board. The Board considered that this would allow for the reinvigoration of the valuable Member Governor position and resolved to approve the process going forward. As the position was now vacant the new process would be implemented as soon as possible.

There are quite a few problems with this record and proposal. The 10% rule, which was only introduced by the Board in recent years, is an anachronism. The only other organisations in British Society which have a percentage requirements imposed on their membership are the Trade Unions: this speaks volumes about the existing Board interests and values. None of the Board Members have been elected, even by one vote. In fact, only one member of the Board appears to have been involved in elections at all: and that member lost on both occasions. It would seem that the Board intend to lay down specified skills in the future for nominees. The only relevant requirements at the moment would seem to be representation of ordinary workers and representation of the regions. Judging by the profiles all of the Board members are involved in management or direction, work in London, and, as far as I can tell, not one of them lives north of the Watford Gap. And this applied to the last regional representative on the Board as well. As for the Board vetting such nominations according to their own criteria, which presumably will not be available to members, what is the point of an election in this manner. Its actual purpose is much more likely to be vet possible candidates so that no-one is elected who might rock the cosy and secretive clique.

I used secretive advisedly, because if you check the minutes available on the BFI Webpages you can see that there are an increasing numbers of items that are marked ‘Part of this minute has been removed due to reasons of confidentiality’. So it is difficult to even check what the Board is doing in certain areas.

The election of members representatives goes back to the 1972 and was introduced because of the vocal criticism of the Board and the BFI management at the time. At that time the line was that ‘a hundred member’ would be considered sufficient to justify a candidate’s election. Clearly, an active representative is a thorn in the side of the Board and the management. My personal view is that the covert purpose all along has been to neuter elected representation. First we lost one of the two representatives, now both are gone. That does, of course, parallel similar movements across British society, especially in the public sector. Presumably the Board would wish to be like the wholly unelected and unaccountable Trustees at the Science Museum Group. The result of that sort of control is exemplified in the expropriation of the Royal Society Photographic collection from The Bradford National Media Museum to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. As has been pointed out, Londoners could go to an Exhibition or a Museum every day of the year and not visit all that is on offer in the metropolis. The Science Museum management used similar tactic to the BFI Board to achieve this. In their case reducing access to the collection and then claiming not enough people visited the collection!

Our Yankee cousins still treasure the founding cry of their great revolution, ‘no taxation without representation!’ The situation at the BFI is less dramatic, but the like is applicable. The people who pay for the organisation should have some control on how it spends their money.

A BFI Survey

BFI survey

Presumably quite a few readers will have seen the questionnaire circulated by the British Film Institute online. It demonstrates just how narrow is the outlook these days of this Metropolitan-based Institution with a supposed national remit.

The survey focuses on The BFI Southbank, followed by Plusnet, a broadband company, and then some questions about usage of BFI facilities. The nearest they get to Yorkshire was a single page which asked, if you live outside of London which region you reside in. And then there were some general questions about taste in films and what films you watched. Here I was able to type in my regular cinema. Finally there were some personal questions.

Clearly the people who run the BFI think that all or most people using the BFI live/work in London. What a sorry state of affairs.

BFI Board of Governors Election 2015

election_057_02_tnb

The result of the recent election by members and Sight & Sound subscribers for a Member on the British Fim Institute’s Board of Governors is now complete. The result has been posted on the BFI Website:

The number of votes cast was as follows:

 

CANDIDATE VOTES % OF VOTES CAST
       
Peter KOSMINSKY 789 45.8
Daniel B MILLER 180 10.5
Keith WITHALL 174 10.1
Michael SALTER 160 9.3
Claude GREEN 121 7.0
David MILLER 120 7.0
Mark NEWALL 82 4.8
Aynsley JARDIN 66 3.8
Sebastian WHEEN 30 1.7

 

Total Number of Votes Cast 1,722
Percentage of Electorate 5.1%

 

Article 13 of the rules for electing a BFI Member to the Board of Governors requires 10% of the electorate to participate in the election. In circumstances where this is not the case, as in this instance, the election will be null and void.  The Board of Governors will then determine how to fill the resulting vacancy.

 

The Board of Governors will consider the election results at the meeting on 27 January 2016.  I will contact you as soon as possible after this date to advise you of the determination of the Board.

At the last election in 2013 the voting was as follows:

Total Number of Votes Cast
1,622

Percentage of Electorate
5.4%

The total number of votes cast has gone up this year, but the percentage has fallen. It would appear that the membership and/or subscriptions have increased over the period. However, the new members/subscribers appear unaware or uninterested in governance. Given that the main  benefit of membership is access to the Southbank or Sight & Sound this is not surprising. It is though depressing.

The BFI Governor Election

BFI Election

After long and unexplained delays we finally have an opportunity for members and subscribers to Sight & Sound to elect a person to sit on the BFI Board of Governors. The booklet containing the candidates and their biographies and statements is now on the BFI Website.

A ballot paper and unique pin number will be either posted to you or sent by email. As in previous years, the ballot will be managed for the BFI by Electoral Reform Services (ERS), one of the world’s most respected independent balloting bodies. The phone number and online system are both controlled by ERS. Please cast your vote by phone or online, quoting the unique security code on your ballot paper. In the event that you have received an email from ERS you may only vote at the website provided. If you receive a ballot paper by post you may vote online and by using the telephone number provided.

The ballot is open 24 hours a day and closes at noon on Friday 11 December 2015. You must vote by that time for your vote to be included in the election.

If you have any queries please contact member.governor.election@bfi.org.uk.

However there is no real explanation as to why we will only have one representative. There is a brief mention in the Minutes of the Board for June 2015, but this does not give rationale.  There may be more in the July Minutes, which have not yet been posted. Electors who only read the circulars may be unaware that until recently we had two representatives: one of whom was supposed to represent the regions. I have sent several emails to the Board Office pointing out that this information should be made available to voters, clearly to little effect.

My name is among the candidates, so I should resist the opportunity to score points vis-a-vis the others. I do believe we need a change of representative. I was pleased to see that several of the candidates actually make statements about being accessible and responding to the electorate. And a couple also make points about the regions beyond the metropolis, the latter dominates the existing Board.

A couple also make the important point that there is this anachronistic ‘10% rule’ which mean if enough votes are not cast there will not be a representative. In such a case we can wave goodbye to Member Governors. So I hope you will be taken with my Statement, but at a minimum you should vote if entitled.

Reviews in Sight and Sound

S&S

This prestigious magazine from the British Film Institute has suffered ravages in recent years. At one time there was the Monthly Film Bulletin which dealt with theatrical releases and S&S which addressed issues, theories and discussions. In the early 1990s they were amalgamated. Then, a few years back, the practice of providing complete production details was lost. More recently it seems that not every film that has a theatrical exhibition in the UK is covered. The magazine has added the video formats in a Home Cinema section [another oxymoron], but often at the expense of theatrical releases. I wrote expressing some concerns to the Letter Page:

I want express my concern at the increasing imbalance between reviews of films released into cinema and films made available in some video format. In the August edition we had a review of a new UK feature, The Legend of Barney Thompson. The review was only slightly longer than the plot synopsis and appeared to be shorter than every one of the Home Cinema reviews. A number of these referred to the techniques and style in their features: an aspect missing from the cinema release review. And quite a few of the Home Cinema reviews were of films already reviewed at an earlier date in S&S or the Monthly Film Bulletin.

Moreover the video reviews allow far more space for critical comment than they do for description on the technical aspects, such as the quality of the transfer. They also offered a minefield in terms of aspect ratios: 2.4:1, 1.85:1, 1.78:1, 16:9, 1.66:1, 1.33:1, and 4:3. But rarely did a review actually explain if this ratio matched the original release.

A similar fate to Legend befell the UK release North v South in the September issue. However, the treatment of aspect ratio has improved: a sound film is correctly given as 1.37:1. The disc information was fuller, but not uniformly so.

Given that S&S now relies heavily on the digital version and the library of previous editions, space could be saved by referencing original reviews in earlier issues. Then we could have proper reviews of features and adequate space for commenting on the actual disc quality of video releases.

The letter did not make it to the published October edition. Fair enough. However, the practices highlighted were still apparent. There were at least three films; from Australia, India and the USA; where the review was shorter than most of those in the Home Cinema section. There was a fourth theatrical release with no apparent country of origin. And the confusion over ratios continued . We had sound films listed as being in 1.33:1, though another was correctly given as 1.37:1. And then there were films released since the advent of widescreen film given as 16:9 – the European Television ratio.

Among the drawbacks of this approach is that it is just fuel to the mistaken view that watching films on video equates to seeing them at the cinema.

BFI Member Governor Election 2015

Ballot copyright free.

Readers will include members of the BFI and subscribers to Sight & Sound who have an entitlement to vote for a representative on the Board of Governors of this institution. They should have received an electronic communication regarding this event and there is a page on the BFI website: it is not clear if any communication has been sent out in other formats. Some of you, like myself, may be confused as to what exactly is taking place. In earlier posts I have drawn attention to the vacant post for a national representative and added to this the extension of the regional representative post without any consultation or discussion. Which is on offer here is a moot point?

” One BFI Governor is elected to serve a four-year term in office by BFI Membership and Sight & Sound subscribers. Due to an upcoming vacancy, we’re seeking nominations for candidates for a Governor Election.”

If you follow on and reads the Rules for Electing … you find,

“Where one member Governor is ordinarily resident in London and the southeast, to be eligible for the vacant post members must be ordinarily resident outside that region (‘ordinarily resident’ means both their primary residence and their usual place of business or employment, if any). Where two member Governor posts are simultaneously vacant, one of them must be reserved for candidates ordinarily resident outside London and the southeast. A member Governor originally ordinarily resident in one region may be considered ordinarily resident in another if in the opinion of the Board Secretary the facts justify such a change.”

Thanks to the indefatigable Mark Newell I have found out that buried in the BFI Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2014 – 2015 [on page 52] is what appears to be a change to Member representation:

“The Board of Governors reserves one place on the Board for a Member Governor. The Member Governor is nominated and voted for by the BFI membership throughout the United Kingdom. This appointment is also subject to approval by the Board of Governors.”

The Board and the BFI seem to have been careful not to draw attention to this change or to the extension from three to four year service. There are no relevant minutes available that record either the discussion or the agreed changes.

Of course, this is ‘par for the course’ for the way the Board addresses representation of the ordinary members and readers who not only actually use the BFI but also pay for it. Presumably the Board feel that the low turnout in recent elections means they can carry on in this cavalier fashion.

A week of daily emails to the Board Offices and staff have failed to elicit a single word of explanation. I wonder if this is witting or unwitting?

Interested parties should note another Rule for the Election:

“Balloting shall be by freephone or internet voting. The failure of a small number of candidates to receive balloting materials shall not invalidate the election. Solely at the Board Secretary’s discretion, a replacement ballot may be issued (e.g. to an elector who presents a signed statement that they have not received the original ballot) but they may at their discretion decline to issue a replacement ballot once the total number of replacement ballots issued is, in their judgement, in danger of becoming significant in the context of the total number of ballots likely to be cast.”