FOCAL celebrates fine footage at awards ceremony

Winners at the eighth annual FOCAL International Awards ceremony in London included French doc Dissidents and Canada's Reel Injun (pictured).
May 13, 2011

The FOCAL International Awards, presented by the Federation of Commercial Audiovisual Libraries International (FOCAL) took place in London this week, celebrating the best use of archive content in documentaries, television programs and non-televised productions.

The ceremony in London, held in association with AP Archive, presented 18 awards, which were narrowed down out of 233 submissions from 20 countries.

The Great White Silence, a documentary chronicling Captain Robert Scott’s doomed expedition to the South Pole, received the best restoration and preservation award for a single picture. Originally released in 1924, the newly restored version premiered in London with live orchestral accompaniment in October of last year.

Three awards were given for best use of footage in a factual production, with two of them going to French production companies. Dissidents from Zadig Productions and Première Passion from Vivement Lundi!, Lobster Films and Blink Productions were awarded, as was the Canadian doc Reel Injun from Rezolution Pictures International.

The prize for best use of footage in an arts production featuring music went to the BBC’s Arena’s Johnny Mercer: the Dream’s on Me, while another prize for the arts category went to Cinema Komunisto from Dribbling Pictures in Yugoslavia.

Stevan Riley’s documentary Fire in Babylon, about the ‘Calypso Cricketers’ that rose to prominence in the sport during the 1970s and 1980s, received the honor for best use of footage in a cinema release, while footie documentary One Night In Turin, which examines England’s push for soccer supremacy during the Italia ’90 World Cup, received the award for best use of sports footage.

The DVD box-set Firebird and Other Legends, featuring the documentary A Thousand Encores: the Ballet Russes in Australia won the gong for best use of footage in a home entertainment release. A Place Without People, from Anemon Productions, got the nod for best use of wildlife and natural history footage. Europa Film Treasures, an online portal that functions as a museum of sorts for European cinema, was given the award for best use of footage on non-TV platforms.

And honoring those behind the scenes, the Jane Mercer Footage Researcher of the Year award went to Phil Clark for his work on the Great British Outdoors, Blackpool on Film and Paws, Claws and Videotape; Jenny Coan from London-based Clips & Footage was named footage library employee of the year and Clips & Footage was itself honored as best footage library.

For a complete list of winners, visit

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Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.