Category: BFI

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


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:


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

Percentage of Electorate

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

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


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.