The Whicker’s World Foundation has been sidling up to the talent in Amsterdam this week at the International Documentary Festival, IDFA. Mini Whicker, who is never one to miss a moment to share the spotlight with glamour, was delighted to meet to Sophia Luvara, director of the powerful and eye opening documentary Inside The Chinese Closet. Her film, which took 5 years to make, gave a voice and in her main characters Andy and Cherry, a face to the taboo subject of living as a gay man or woman in China.
If this was the highlight, the lowlight of the festival was the frustration and dismay expressed by senior voices about the crisis in funding. Nick Fraser, editor of BBC Storyville was reported as saying “Part of the problem is that there is a real crisis in documentary funding among broadcasters and it is not being closed by NGOs and non-profits.” Fraser who’s own strand faces cuts of around 30% says that one of the issues in the BBC is lack of autonomy for decision makers; “There is now an obligation to refer everything to central office. That has created a lack of risk taking and that is quite serious”.
His frustration was echoed by EDN Director Paul Pauwels who said, “We’re in a really bad situation right now. If you compare it with 15 to 20 years ago, it is a completely different world, and it has to do with the lack of respect for documentary within the broadcasters -a lack of respect and a lack of knowledge”.
Pauwel continued “The irony is the prestige and reach of documentary has never been higher, but the funding is in crisis”. The Whicker’s World Foundation have become painfully aware of this situation and how much the reality is being obscured by the extent to which young and impoverished documentary makers are doing it all for love.
Alan Whicker saw this crisis coming and it is what inspired him and his partner Valerie Kleeman to set up The Funding Award of £80,000.