Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Offshore oil and gas set to take centre stage in Scottish independence battle

If ever there was a shred of doubt as to whether oil would figure strongly in the Scottish independence referendum debate or not then the report released today by industry body Oil & Gas UK places the whole contentious issue firmly centre stage.

For decades, the true worth of the UK's offshore oil and gas industry has been "underplayed" by successive London-based governments desperate to thwart the growing call for self-determination in Scotland. Now, on the back of record investment in the industry and with the publication of Oil & Gas UK's 2013 Economic Report, the genie is out of the bottle once and for all.

Renewed commitment to extract oil and gas from the UK's Continental Shelf (UKCS) by both the UK and Scottish governments and the industry itself has done much to attract the record-breaking £13.5 billion of investment this year.

Malcolm Webb, Oil & Gas UK's chief executive, explains, "The offshore oil and gas industry generates almost £40 billion a year for the economy by producing oil and gas worth £32 billion and by exporting oilfield technology and expertise worth £7 billion. The recent sharpening of focus within government and industry on the business environment required to grow that contribution in future has given investors the confidence to develop new fields and redevelop older fields, so we are now seeing the highest-ever investment. This is heightening the business opportunities for the UK's world-renowned supply chain and is boosting employment to 450,000 jobs across Britain."

The UK's world-class supply chain now generates sales of £27 billion a year, including £7 billion in exports. It is considered a world leader in sub-sea engineering which is worth £9 billion a year and holds 45 per cent of that global market, and well services companies are generating revenues of almost £2 billion a year, the highest since records began.

Oil and gas extraction has provided the UK Exchequer with more than £300 billion in production tax over the past 45 years. In time, the current unprecedented investment will lift production, bringing with it significant funds for the public purse. In 2012-13, £6.5 billion was paid in tax on production, representing over 15 per cent of the Exchequer's total receipts of corporate tax.

In addition, the oil and gas supply chain is estimated to have paid an additional £5 billion in corporate and payroll taxes, taking the total industry contribution to almost £12 billion.

Mr Webb says, "The industry is the UK's largest industrial investor and contributor to gross value added. With 15 to 24 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) still remaining to be developed, the UKCS possesses great potential for contributing to economic growth for decades to come."

According to the UK government, oil and gas will still provide some 70 per cent of the UK's total primary energy in 2030. Although the UK remained the third largest producer of gas and second largest producer of oil in Europe in 2012, annual production declined by 14.5 per cent to 567 million boe, or 1.54 million boe per day (boepd).

In 2012, only nine new fields with total reserves of 146 million boe began producing. Much more encouragingly, the industry anticipates that 15 fields, with combined reserves of 470 million boe, will come on-stream in 2013. The Banff, Gryphon and Elgin fields are also coming back on-stream, but over the year, production is now forecast to fall to a range of 1.2 to 1.4 million boepd.

Referring to the continuing decline in production, Mr Webb says, "Despite impressive investment in new developments, the production efficiency of existing assets remains in worrying decline. DECC [Department of Energy and Climate Change] and the industry are working to tackle this serious concern through a joint task group. The Wood Review, which is currently examining how to maximise UKCS recovery, is also very timely and we very much look forward to seeing the recommendations early in 2014."

Mr Webb concludes, "The industrial strategies launched by both the British and Scottish governments provide a clear framework for increased investment, innovation, growth in exports and British job creation. Unlocking the total economic potential of the UKCS will require both the industry and government to play their respective parts to the full."

Oil value downplayed

Earlier this year, former Labour Chancellor Denis Healey admitted that his party deliberately downplayed the value of North Sea oil in order to thwart support for Scottish independence.

The admission from the Labour peer emerged during an interview conducted by the editor of Holyrood Magazine, Mandy Rhodes. The senior Labour politician was asked about the North Sea oil issue in the run-up to the 1979 referendum for Scottish Home Rule.

Lord Healey said, "I think we did underplay the value of the oil to the country because of the threat of nationalism but that was mainly down to Thatcher.

"We didn't actually see the rewards from oil in my period in office because we were investing in the infrastructure rather than getting the returns and really, Thatcher wouldn't have been able to carry out any of her policies without that additional 5 per cent on GDP from oil."

In 2005, a secret UK government report buried for more than 30 years was released under new Freedom of Information legislation. The report, compiled by Professor Gavin McCrone in 1974, said oil discoveries in the North Sea at the time would make an independent Scotland one of the world's richest nations, with a budget surplus so large it would be "embarrassing".

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Search for Scottish roots could become easier thanks to new ancestral tourism guide

Left to right: Linda McPherson, Scottish Enterprise;
Cabinet Secretary John Swinney; Zoe Tautz-Davis,
 Mercat Tours Ltd; Natalie Summers, VisitScotland;
 George MacKenzie, Ancestral Tourism Steering Group.
Overseas visitors searching for their Scottish roots could find the task much easier in the near future thanks to a new guide aimed at Scotland's tourism businesses.

For the tourism businesses are being encouraged to adapt their products and services to tap into ancestral tourism opportunities in the run up to 2014, when Scotland welcomes the world for Homecoming, the Ryder Cup and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Companies are being urged to take advantage with the help of the guide, Ancestral Tourism in Scotland, published by Tourism Intelligence Scotland (TIS). The guide is the latest in TIS's Opportunities for Growth series, which helps businesses take advantage of new and emerging opportunities in the sector.

Ancestral tourism in Scotland has the potential to grow significantly in the next five years, from the current 800,000 visitors per year to 4.3 million visitors, says Scottish Enterprise, the country's main economic development agency.

TIS is a joint venture developed by Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, VisitScotland and the Scottish Tourism Alliance, in partnership with the tourism industry, to stimulate growth and innovation in tourism.

The guide, which is based on ancestral tourism research commissioned by VisitScotland, shows that some 10 million people worldwide with Scottish roots are interested in finding out more about their ancestry, with around two-fifths of these planning to visit Scotland in the next two years. Based on these figures, the opportunity for businesses to capitalise on these visitors is estimated at £2.4 billion in additional revenue.

Launched at the National Archives of Scotland by Cabinet Secretary John Swinney (see photograph), the guide is available to businesses by registering at http://www.tourism-intelligence.co.uk.

The TIS website has recently been refreshed and now offers enhanced features for tourism businesses to help them access intelligence quickly and easily. It is also been optimised for access from a variety of devices. Businesses can also benefit from tailored information based on their preferences and enhanced social media functions so information can be shared with one click.

The new guide provides tourism operators with the latest intelligence on Scotland’s ancestral tourism markets. There are also a raft of practical hints, tips and ideas to help businesses make the most of the year-round opportunities. These include:


  • Gathering local information and knowledge of ancestral landmarks (churches, castles, battlefields, stately homes, museums) to direct tourists to places of interest
  • Having a good working knowledge to signpost tourists to local and national research facilities and resources – the Ancestral Guide includes a substantial list of links and resources to help businesses identify what they can offer
  • Providing traditional hospitality that showcases Scotland’s larder – tourists want to sample Scotland’s culture through its food and drink
  • Promoting specialist tour guides, operators and ancestral researchers – businesses can collaborate and partner to offer a richer, seamless experience for tourists.
  • Learning from other companies which are already successfully tapping into the ancestral tourism market – the Ancestral Guide includes a number of case studies on companies and projects such as Hidden Deeside Tours, Museum Without Walls, Duntrune House B&B, Elgin Cathedral, Titan Crane, Hawick Heritage Hub, Scotia Roots and Banffshire Coast Tourism Partnership.
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John Swinney, the MSP for Perthshire North and currently Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth in the Scottish Government, said, "Scotland is preparing to Welcome the World in 2014 when we take to the global stage with our second Year of Homecoming. Ancestral tourism will be a key component of next year’s festivities with many visitors looking to trace their ancestry or just soak up the atmosphere of their forefathers' land.

"Tourism Intelligence Scotland's new Ancestral Tourism guide will help Scottish businesses utilise opportunities available to them within the emerging ancestral tourism sector, encouraging more genealogy tourists and boosting the economy."

Linda McPherson, director of tourism at Scottish Enterprise, said, "Now is the perfect time for tourism businesses to introduce ancestral tourism elements into their current products and services, ahead of 2014. The Ancestral Tourism Guide provides lots of practical ideas that businesses can implement to maximise their revenue from ancestral tourists.

"We also know that these tourists often visit outside of peak periods, so this can offer a route for businesses to extend their season. There are also excellent opportunities to collaborate with other tourism businesses to develop a fuller package that can help extend visitor stay and spend within the local area and beyond."

George MacKenzie, chairman of the Ancestral Tourism Steering Group, commented, "I warmly welcome this new guide, which will certainly help Scottish businesses to grasp the big opportunities of the ancestral market and bring more visitors to Scotland in search of their family roots."

Marc Crothall, CEO, Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) said, "Tourism Scotland 2020 the National Strategy for Scottish tourism, being led by the STA, identifies our distant cousins in the USA, Australia and Canada as a key growth market for Scotland, and research tells us that one of the prime reasons for this market to travel to Scotland is to discover and learn more about their ancestors.

"We are therefore delighted with the development of this relevant resource which will help the industry to better understand this key market and inspire them to develop memorable experiences tailored to their needs. As a partner of TIS we will continue to collaborate and support this initiative, and will promote this new resource to our members and the wider industry."

The guide shows that some 10 million people worldwide with Scottish roots are interested in finding out more about their ancestry, with around two-fifths of these planning to visit Scotland in the next two years. Based on these figures, the opportunity for businesses to capitalise on these visitors is estimated at £2.4 billion in additional revenue.

Homecoming Scotland 2014 will bring a number of major historic celebrations to the country including the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn and over 50 ancestral and clan events and activities. For more information, visit http://www.homecomingscotland.com.

Genealogy is one of the fastest growing hobbies globally, dramatically increasing in popularity as access to the Internet and online resources become more plentiful. Research shows that the overseas ancestral market represents a smaller number of visitors. However it is the most lucrative sector and one that businesses should examine more fully.

Research also shows that ancestral tourists spend significantly more per day than the average tourist to Scotland. They stay longer than other visitors (average of 10 nights compared to 4.5 nights for all visits to Scotland), visit throughout the year and often visit places that traditionally have little tourist trade outside of the usual tourist centres. Ancestral tourists from all countries are highly likely to make return visits to Scotland (92%) and to recommend Scotland as a destination to family and friends (97%).

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Wednesday, 3 July 2013

SMEs give backing to Scottish independence

Survey blow for Business Secretary Vince Cable
More than half of Scotland's small businesses back Scottish independence, a survey reveals.

The findings follow research by AXA Business Insurance, part of the AXA Group, a worldwide leader in financial services.

The research, carried out last month, found 52 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) based in Scotland favoured independence while only 33 per cent supported remaining part of the United Kingdom.

The survey comes as the UK government launched yet another paper warning Scots of the dire consequences should they vote for independence in September 2014.

Launched by Business Secretary Vince Cable in Glasgow, the paper claims independence would create barriers which would affect trade with the rest of the UK and thus put jobs at risk.

However, the AXA study, which questioned around 500 SMEs across the UK, revealed that one in four (25 per cent) of all those questioned believe that independence would be a good thing for small businesses in Scotland, while 45 per cent believe it would not. The remaining 30 per cent are not sure either way.

But, says AXA, when it comes to businesses based in Scotland, the number in favour of independence doubles to 52 per cent, while only one in three feel independence would not be a good thing for Scottish SMEs.

South of the border, in England, 43 per cent of SMEs think independence would be bad for their contemporaries in Scotland, while in Wales this number is 59 per cent.

The study also revealed that Scottish SMEs are more negative about current government spending cuts than SMEs based in England, although those in Wales are the most unhappy about the effect these may have on their business.

However, a larger percentage of SMEs in Scotland than in England feel that the current low interest rates provide a positive outlook for their business.

The results come on the back of the AXA Optimism Index which last week revealed that, while levels of optimism were riding high right across the UK, SMEs in Scotland were the most upbeat about their futures.

Darrell Sansom, managing director at AXA Business Insurance, says,"It is clear from our research that this is an issue that is very much front of mind for small businesses.

"SMEs have a lot of business critical issues to manage at the moment and the uncertainty around a possible independent Scotland will only add to those concerns.

"Regardless of the outcome of the vote, it is important that small businesses are looking at every eventuality and ensuring that their business is prepared for the vote to go either way."

Business for Scotland, which is made up of hundreds of Scottish business owners who support independence, welcomed the survey findings.

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, the owner of the social media and sales & marketing consultancy Intelligise, and founding member of Business for Scotland, said, "We believe that the AXA survey, if anything, underestimates the support for independence within Scottish SMEs.  Business for Scotland's own polling has consistently found SME business to be more supportive of independence than the population as a whole.

"This is because people who run their own businesses are used to examining the facts, evaluating their options and making their minds up more quickly. This survey therefore gives the best indication so far of the likely direction of travel of public opinion within Scotland as a whole, when we get closer to the real decision time in September 2014."

The AXA Group is a worldwide leader in insurance and asset management, with more than 163,000 employees serving 102 million clients in 57 countries.

In the UK, AXA operates through a number of business units including: AXA Wealth, AXA Commercial Lines and Personal Intermediary, AXA Personal Direct and Partnerships, AXA PPP healthcare, AXA Ireland and an independent distribution business Bluefin. AXA employs over 12,000 staff in the UK.

Check out the AXA Group here, and Business for Scotland here.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Superpower China recognises Scotland's low carbon technology expertise

Scotland and China sign Memorandum of Understanding.
Scotland's low carbon technology expertise has been recognised by superpower China following the signing of an agreement between the two countries.

The agreement, in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), aims to develop cooperation and a knowledge transfer framework with the Hong Kong Science and Technology Corporation.

The MoU will leave Scottish firms well placed to be involved as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region develops a low carbon technology hub to tackle its biggest environmental concerns.

The low carbon technology hub will focus on air quality, construction and waste management.

Brokered by Scottish Development International (SDI), the MoU will give Scottish companies access to research and development facilities at Hong Kong Science Park - offering easier access to growth markets in Greater China and throughout Asia.

Opportunities for Scottish firms are anticipated in a number of areas, including:


  • Biofuels and bioenergy
  • Clean transport initiatives
  • Low Carbon finance, education, policy and market structure
  • Smart sustainable cities and islands
  • Waste Management
  • Low carbon sustainable building construction
  • Renewable energy
  • Air quality

Humza Yousaf, Scotland's Minister for External Affairs and International Development, said, "Scotland has the skills, the know-how and the low carbon technology to help tackle the world's environmental challenges, and this agreement will reinforce our reputation as a global leader in this field."

Mr. Nicholas Brooke, Chairman of Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC), said, "I am confident that the signing of this MoU will drive closer collaboration between HKSTPC and Scottish companies, particularly in the area of green technology development. We hope it will encourage and accelerate research and development partnerships and exchanges between both locations. We warmly welcome Scottish low carbon companies to make Hong Kong Science Park their home in Asia."

Speaking at the signing of the MoU, Anne MacColl, SDI's chief executive, added, "This agreement sends a clear message that Scotland is one of the world's leading authorities on low carbon energy developments.

"There is significant economic opportunity for Scotland to gain early competitive advantage through the adaptation of existing technology and the design and development of new products and services.

"This agreement with Hong Kong is just one example of how we are working with international partners to facilitate opportunities for Scottish companies to enter new markets with vast opportunity for development."

Earlier, Mr. E Anthony Tan, Chief Executive Officer of HKSTPC explained, "Hong Kong Science Park's Phase 3 is currently being developed and is scheduled to complete in stages from early 2014 to 2016. Employing an array of green features, this latest phase of the Park will become a living laboratory to showcase green technologies. Phase 3 aims to be carbon neutral in the long run and will be the perfect base for low carbon companies."

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Robert Kennedy criticizes privatization of water at World Environment Forum

Privatization is currently the most troubling issue we face in relation to water.

So says Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an activist and attorney specializing in environmental law.

The son of the late U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of the late President, John F. Kennedy, and the late Senator Ted Kennedy, was taking part in the World Environmental Forum organized by LIDE – Grupo de Lideres Empresariais [Group of Business Leaders], in Foz do Iguacu.

"Water ought to be a right for all human beings," asserts Kennedy. He believes that free market capitalism is the best solution, but it must be managed with a social interest, otherwise future generations will have to pay for our mistakes and excesses. And he insists: "We should encourage a more rational use of water, but we cannot restrict the use of water by the poorest people through pricing."
  
Kennedy cited the example of Cochabamba, Bolivia, a country where water was privatized in such a way that people were dying from lack of access to it.  The revolt was so great that the French and American companies managing the city's water supply were forced to leave the country.

Another example occurred during the Pinochet regime in Chile, when the dictator "sold" all of the rivers to the company Endesa. The company was sold to Spanish investors, and now, according to Kennedy, foreign speculators own all of the country's water.  The same thing happened with the forests.  He believes that there is no real democracy in Chile because it has no autonomous control over its natural resources.

He explains that coal is one of the worst polluters of the environment in the United States, and that it is necessary to replace this source of energy as fast as possible, but there are three obstacles: the existing subsidies for the oil industry, the lack of a system for new energy networks, and of effective mechanisms for penalizing those who waste resources.
  
Kennedy has been called one of the "Heroes of the Planet" by Time magazine for his contributions in the fight to rescue the Hudson River in New York, and for taking part in demonstrations against an oil pipeline with a group of environmentalists in front of the White House.

Los Angeles Film Festival winners announced

Janis Nords' Mother, I Love You and Ryan McGarry's Code Black Win Jury Awards

Destin Daniel Cretton's Short Term 12, Grace Lee's American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs and Haifaa Al Mansour's Wadjda Win Audience Awards

Best Performance, Short Film and Music Video Award Winners Also Revealed

Sloan Fast Track Grant and Millennium Entertainment Fellowship Given out in Part of Film Independent's Fast Track Program

Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that produces the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Spirit Awards, announced the jury and audience award winners for the 2013 Festival at the Awards Brunch, hosted by CHAYA Downtown for the fourth year. Actor Mary Elizabeth Winstead was on hand to present the awards. The LA Film Fest, presented by Film Independent, in conjunction with Presenting Media Sponsor Los Angeles Times, Host Partner L.A. LIVE and Premier Sponsors DIRECTV and American Airlines, ran from Thursday, June 13 to Sunday, June 23in downtown Los Angeles.

"Every single film in the Festival rocks and I love that an international film and a local film received kudos today. They represent the breadth of our programming and our commitment to supporting unique voices around the world," said Festival Director Stephanie Allain.

The two top juried awards of the Los Angeles Film Festival are the DIRECTV Narrative Award and DIRECTV Documentary Award, each carrying an unrestricted $10,000 cash prize, funded by DIRECTV, for the winning film's director. The awards were established by the Festival to encourage independent filmmakers to pursue their artistic ambitions.

"Our jurors had hard choices to make this year and their discussions were at an incredibly high level.  I thank them for their thoughtful work and salute the winners.  I think we had a banner crop of competition films at the festival. All our filmmakers are winners in my book," said Artistic Director David Ansen.

The DIRECTV Narrative Award recognizes the finest narrative film in competition at the Festival and went to Janis Nords for Mother, I Love Youwhich made its United States premiere at the Festival.

TheDIRECTV Documentary Award recognizes the finest documentary film in competition at the Festival and went to Ryan McGarry for Code Black, which made its world premiere at the Festival.

The award for Best Performance in the Narrative Competition went to Geetanjali Thapa for her performance in Kamal K.M's I.Dwhich made its North American premiere at the Festival. Given to an actor or actors from an official selection in the Narrative Competition, this is the tenth year the award has been given at the Festival.

The LA Film Fest also awarded an unrestricted $1,500 cash prize to each short film category. The recipient for the Honolulu Film Office Award for Best Narrative Short Film went to Walker, directed by Tsai Ming-Liang. The recipient for the Honolulu Film Office Award for Best Documentary Short Film went to Kevin Jerome Everson for StoneEmma De Sweaf and Marc James Roels' Oh Willy… won the Honolulu Film Office Award for Best Animated or Experimental Short Film.

The Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature went to Short Term 12 directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature went to American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, directed by Grace Lee. Sony Pictures Classics' Wadjda, directed by Haifaa Al Mansour won the Audience Award for Best International FeatureThe Audience Award for Best Short Film went to Grandpa and Me and a Helicopter to Heaven, directed by Asa Blanck and Johan Palmgren. Katachi, directed by Kijek/Adamski with music byShugo Tokumaru won the Audience Award for Best Music Video.

The DIRECTV Narrative Feature Competition jury was comprised of Film Independent Spirit Award-winning producer Gina Kwon (Me and You and Everyone We Know, Chuck & Buck), Spirit Award-nominated director Sean Baker (Starlet, Take Out, Prince of Broadway) and actor-producer Harry Lennix (Man of SteelTitus, the upcoming NBC series The Blacklist.). The DIRECTV Documentary Feature Competition jury was comprised of the 2010 LA Film Fest Grand Jury award-winning director Clay Tweel (Make Believe), award-winning producer Lesley Chilcott (Waiting For SupermanAn Inconvenient Truth), and New York Times contributing culture writer and former film and television critic Carina Chocano.  The Honolulu Film Office Award Shorts Competition Jury was comprised of Los Angeles Film Critics Association Vice President Tim Grierson, author Sandi Tan (The Black Isle) and Independent Spirit-nominated writer and director David Fenster (Trona, Pincus).

Also announced at the festival were the Fast Track grants winners which Film Independent selects and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Millennium Entertainment sponsor. The Fast Track program is an intensive, three-day film-financing market that connects participants with established financiers, production companies, agents, managers and other film industry professionals who can move their current projects forward.

Writer/director/producer Christopher Munch's film Frank's World: And Tales of the Fearless Brothers O won the Sloan Fast Track Grant, a $15,000 production grant.  The $10,000 Millennium Entertainment Fellowship grant was awarded to Vincent Harris and Amy Hobby for their film Third Girl from the Left.
  
Now in its nineteenth year, the Los Angeles Film Festival, supported by L.A. LIVE and the Los Angeles Times, showcases the best in new American and international cinema and provides the movie-loving public with access to some of the most critically acclaimed film makers, film industry professionals, and emerging talent from around the world. The 2013 Festival screened nearly 200 feature films, shorts and music videos, representing more than 30 countries.

The LA Film Fest kicked off on Thursday, June 13 with the North American premiere of Pedro Almodovar's I'm So Excited, sponsored by American Airlines, and will close tonight with the world premiere of Oscar® winners Nat Faxon and Jim Faxon's The Way, Way Back, sponsored by DIRECTV. Gala Screenings included the world premiere of Doug Pray's Levitated Mass: The Story of Michael Heizer's Monolithic Sculpture, the North American premiere of Nicolas Winding Refn's Only God Forgives and the Los Angeles premiere of Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station. 2013 Guest Director and recipient of this year's Spirit of Independence Award was David O. Russell and Artists in Residences were actress Maya Rudolph and composer Gustavo Santaolalla.

DIRECTV is proud to be a first-year partner with the LA Film Festival as sponsor of the Festival's Closing Night, Narrative and Documentary Competitions and Jury Prizes, reflecting its commitment to supporting established and emerging filmmakers. DIRECTV Cinema's premium pay-per-view movie service for DIRECTV customers offers access to exclusive new releases before they premiere in theaters, a library with thousands of movies to watch instantly with DIRECTV On Demand, and the most movies available in 1080p HD. DIRECTV the world's leading providers of digital television entertainment services delivering an unparalleled video experience through state-of-the-art technology and unmatched programming to more than 35 million customers in the U.S. and Latin America.

Stunning locations, great crews and generous tax credits are why Honolulu and Oahu are known as 'Production Center of the Tropics.'  Host to countless feature films, television series and new media projects including Jurassic Park, The Descendants, LOST and Hawaii Five-0, 2013 marks 100 years of film production in Hawaii.  To celebrate, the Honolulu Film Office has enhanced their tax credits. (www.filmhonolulu.com/)

CHAYA restaurants have remained one of the city's most beloved and iconic dining destinations for 30 years. Lead by Corporate Executive Chef Shigefumi Tachibe—the creator of the original tuna tartare, CHAYA restaurants are renowned for their modern Euro-Asian cuisine and influence on the Los Angeles dining scene.  Chef Tachibe creates an inspired menu by infusing exotic ingredients and honored culinary traditions from his native Japanese roots. All CHAYA restaurants, including three locations in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco, highlight their menu with local and sustainable ingredients fresh from the farmers' market with seasonal menus. (www.thechaya.com)

Awards were given out in the following categories:


DIRECTV Narrative Award (for Best Narrative Feature)


Winner:
Mother, I Love You directed by Janis Nords
Producer:
Alise Gelze
Cast:
Kristofers Konovalovs, Matiss Livcans, Vita Varpina, Indra Brike, Haralds Barzdins


Film Description:



Like a lot of children, 12-year-old Raimonds has his quiet side, his talented side (he plays saxophone at a music school), a mischievous streak and a resourcefulness born of desperation. Often on his own while his single mom works, and routinely at odds with her when they do spend time together, Raimonds finds thrilling companionship in Peteris, a boy who steals money from one of the apartments his mother cleans.  Raimonds' increasingly dangerous decisions will have thorny repercussions for him and those close to him. Latvia


The Narrative Award carries an unrestricted cash prize of $10,000 funded by DIRECTV, offering the financial means to help film makers transfer their vision to the screen. The award recognizes the finest narrative film in competition and is given to the director. A special jury selects the winner, and all narrative feature-length films screening in the Narrative Competition section were eligible.

In bestowing Janis Nords with the DIRECTV Narrative Award, the Jury stated:

"As film makers ourselves we are finely attuned to the processes of making a film and sometimes find it difficult not to analyze a film on a purely technical or esoteric level.  In the case of our selected film, we found ourselves absorbed so completely in its world that we removed our critical eye. Its story is simple, deftly executed, and features a prodigious central performance. The careful escalation of dramatic tension, the truthful portrayal of a strained mother-son relationship, the stunning night time photography of an urban landscape and the confidant direction - never sacrificing substance for style - thoroughly won us over.  It is with a deep appreciation for its delicacy, emotional resonance and assured control of craft that we award the Grand Prize to Mother, I Love You."


DIRECTV Documentary Award (for Best Documentary Feature)


Winner:
Code Black directed by Ryan McGarry
Producer:
Linda Goldstein Knowlton


Film Description:


  
Continually understaffed, under-budgeted and overrun with patients, public hospital ER waiting rooms are by definition seas of misery. The ER of the old L.A. County Hospital+USC Medical Center, which was the first academic Department of Emergency Medicine in the US was, by all accounts, a war zone.



Code Black follows a team of young, idealistic and energetic ER doctors during the transition from the old to the new L.A. County as they try to avoid burnout and improve patient care. Why do they persist, despite being under siege by rules, regulations and paperwork? As one doctor simply states, "More people have died on that square footage than any other location in the United States. On a brighter note, more people have been saved than in any other square footage in the United States."


The Documentary Award carries an unrestricted cash prize of $10,000 funded by DIRECTV, offering the financial means to help film makers transfer their vision to the screen. The award recognizes the finest documentary film in competition, and is given to the director. A special jury selects the winner, and all documentary feature-length films screening in the Documentary Competition section were eligible.

In bestowing Ryan McGarry with the DIRECTV Documentary Award, the Jury stated:

"It's unusual for a first-time film maker to integrate complex, multifaceted ideas so seamlessly into a visceral, action-packed and character-driven story that they end up creeping up on you, as if you'd thought of them all by yourself. With a strong point-of-view rooted in personal experience, and without judgement, this year's winning film deftly disarms a hot-button political issue by reframing it as a human issue and shows us, instead of telling us, why we should care. Instead of rehashing familiar arguments, it drills down to find the universal in the specific. It's heart warming, and also heart stopping. The winner of the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival Documentary Competition Grand Jury Prize is Code Black directed by Ryan McGarry."


Best Performance in the Narrative Competition


Winner:
Geetanjali Thapa in Kamar K.M's I.D.


Film Description:


  
The feature directorial debut from Indian film maker Kamal K.M. may be called I.D., but this drama has less to do with individual identity than it does our shared personal connection. A carefree young woman living in Mumbai named Charu is visited by a painter who's been hired to do a touch-up to one of her apartment walls. But when the man falls unconscious, Charu discovers that she alone must attend to this stranger, first getting him to the hospital and then trying to discover who he is. India  

In bestowing Geetanjali Thapa with the Best Performance Award, the Jury stated:

"The Narrative Competition Jury gives an award for Best Actor to the very talented Geetanjali Thapa for her portrayal of Chara in Kamal K.M.'s I.D. Thapa's performance is recognized in part for her ability to win over the audience's empathy for a character that initially lacks, indeed even resists, empathy. Rarely conversational, her ability to speak volumes with gesture and silence is a revelation to the audience.  With an onscreen presence that commands attention, we see her rising star as something that excites us as film makers, and we are privileged to bear witness to the start of Thapa's very promising career."


Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature


Winner:
Short Term 12, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton
Producers:
Maren Olson, Asher Goldstein, Joshua Astrachan, Ron Najor
Cast:
Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., Kaitlyn Dever, Keith Stanfield,

Rami Malek


Film Description:



Working with at-risk youth in a foster care facility, Grace never knows when things might suddenly go sideways. Likewise, Destin Daniel Cretton's film keeps viewers off-balance starting with its brilliantly staged opening scene, rarely allowing a moment's peace before another crisis erupts. Having reached a critical juncture in her relationship with her boyfriend Grace is pushed to her breaking point by the arrival of Jayden, a girl whose troubled home life parallels the one she endured.

This award is given to the narrative feature audiences liked most as voted by a tabulated rating system. Select narrative feature-length films screening in the following sections were eligible for the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature: Narrative Competition, International Showcase, Summer Showcase, Community Screenings and The Beyond.

Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature


Winner:
American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs directed by Grace Lee
Producers:
Grace Lee, Caroline Libresco, Austin Wilkin
Featuring:
Grace Lee Boggs


Film Description:



Intimate and inspiring, Grace Lee Boggs' story is one of a lifelong work for social justice and equality. Born into a middle class Chinese immigrant family and educated at Barnard in the 1930s, the young Grace soon noticed the inequities in American society and spent the next eight decades working to change the status quo, becoming an icon of the African American movement. Using her advanced education and intelligence not to accrue vast wealth but to work towards the betterment of all people, Boggs became a true American hero.



At 97 she continues to work tirelessly to educate and activate Americans, young and old, to work for the changes in which they believe. Director Lee (no relation) gives us a writer, activist and philosopher as she works her way through decades of social and political upheaval, inspiring all the way.

This award is given to the documentary feature audiences liked most as voted by a tabulated rating system. Select documentary feature-length films screening in the following sections were eligible for the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature: Documentary Competition, International Showcase, Summer Showcase and Community Screenings.


Audience Award for Best International Feature


Winner:
Sony Pictures Classics'  Wadjda, directed by Haifaa Al Mansour
Producers:
Gerhard Meixner, Roman Paul
Featuring:
Reem Abdullah, Waad Mohammed, Abdullrahman Al Gohani,

Ahd, Sultan Al Assaf


Film Description:



This rousing, pioneering gem--not only the first Saudi Arabian feature shot within the Kingdom, but the first ever directed by a woman--focuses on a remarkable 10-year-old girl named Wadjda, who sets her sights on buying a beautiful green bicycle so she can race her friend Abdullah through the suburban streets of Riyadh. But in this conservative society, virtuous girls don't ride bikes, and her mother forbids it. The rebellious Wadjda decides to raise the money herself - by entering a Koran recitation competition at her school. The troublemaker must pose as a pious, model student to achieve her goal.  Germany/Saudi Arabia/United Arab Emirates

This award is given to the international feature audiences liked most as voted by a tabulated rating system. Select international feature-length films, both narrative and documentary, screening in the following sections were eligible for the Audience Award for Best International Feature: Narrative Competition, Documentary Competition, International Showcase, Summer Showcase and The Beyond.

HONOLULU FILM OFFICE AWARD for Best Narrative Short Film


Winner:
Walker directed by Tsai Ming-Liang
Producer:
Chen Kuan-Ying
Cast:
Lee Kang-Sheng


Description:

In this stunning meditative piece, the walking pace of a monk measures up against the bustling streets of Hong Kong.  China

In bestowing Tsai Ming-Liang with the Honolulu Film Office Award for Best Narrative Short Film Award, the Jury stated:

"Great storytelling comes in many different forms, and like an ancient koan, our winner is deceptively simple and surprisingly playful. It features the epic odyssey of one man, seemingly poised against the forces of modernity as he advances - silently, deliberately -from day to night, from tiny alleys to towering skyscraper avenues, across the frenetic city of Hong Kong. At journey's end, we, too, are transformed by the sweet moment when denial morphs into glee: Walker from Tsai Ming-Liang."


HONOLULU FILM OFFICE AWARD for Best Documentary Short Film


Winner:
Stone directed by Kevin Jerome Everson
Producers:
Madeleine Molyneaux, Kevin Jerome Everson                                 


Description:

A real-time documentary of a street hustler running a betting game of finding the ball under one of the three caps.

In bestowing Kevin Jerome Everson with the Honolulu Film Office Award for Best Documentary Short Film Award, the Jury stated:

"Documentaries can expose us to the world's harsh realities, but they can also reveal the beauty and mystery of the everyday. The latter is very true in the case of our winner for Best Documentary Short, which is only seven minutes long but is filled with character detail and suspense. Consisting of only one shot, this short introduces us to an unnamed street hustler as he bets onlookers that they can't find the ball hidden underneath one of three caps, our winner is film maker Kevin Jerome Everson's Stone."

HONOLULU FILM OFFICE AWARD for Best Animated/Experimental Short Film


Winner:
Oh Willy... directed by Emma De Sweaf, Marc James Roels
Producers:
Ben Tesseur, Nidia Santiago


Description:

Fleeing a nudist colony where he witnessed his mother's passing, Willy has an unexpected encounter.Belgium/The Netherlands/ France

In bestowing Emma De Sweaf and Marc James Roels with the Honolulu Film Office Award for Best Animated or Experimental Short Film Award, the Jury stated:

"Several of the animated shorts at this year's festival were inventive and startling, but our winner was a truly exceptional piece of work. This humorous, moving and ultimately sublime short tells a story of life, death and rebirth with wobbly thighs, vomit, breastfeeding, space travel and bunny rabbits - all against the backdrop of a nudist colony. The winner of Best Animated or Experimental Short is Oh Willy..."


Audience Award for Best Short Film


Winner:
Grandpa and Me and a Helicopter to Heaven directed by ├ůsa Blanck and Johan Palmgren
Producers:
Asa Blanck


Description:

An unsentimental young boy goes on a final excursion with his grandfather to collect chanterelle mushrooms.  Sweden

Awarded to the short film audiences liked most as voted on by a tabulated rating system. Short films screening in the Shorts Programs or before Narrative Competition, Documentary Competition, or International Showcase feature-length screenings were eligible for the Audience Award for Best Short Film.


Audience Award for Best Music Video


Winner:
Katachi directed by Kijek/Adamski
Music:
Shugo Tokumaru

This award is given to the music video audiences liked most as voted on by a tabulated rating system.


ABOUT THE LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL
Now in its nineteenth year, the Los Angeles Film Festival, supported by L.A. LIVE and the Los Angeles Times, showcases the best in new American and international cinema and provides the movie-loving public with access to some of the most critically acclaimed film makers, film industry professionals, and emerging talent from around the world.
The Festival features unique signature programs including the Film Maker Retreat, Music in Film Nights at the GRAMMY Museum, Poolside Chats, Master Classes and more. Additionally, the Festival screens short films created by high school students and has a special section devoted to music videos. Over 200 features, shorts and music videos, representing more than 30 countries, make up the main body of the Festival.

The DIRECTV Narrative and DIRECTV Documentary awards are cash awards for best narrative and documentary features selected by an esteemed panel of jurors each year.  The Honolulu Film Festival awards cash prizes for best narrative, documentary and animated short films. The Festival also hosts a jury awards as well as a jury award for best performance in the narrative competition. Audience awards are also presented to best documentary, narrative and international feature, short film and music video.

The Los Angeles Film Festival is presented in conjunction with Presenting Media Sponsor the Los Angeles Times, Premier and Closing Night Sponsor DIRECTV, Premier and Opening Night Sponsor American Airlines, Principal and Family Day sponsor Hasbro Studios and Platinum sponsors Stella Artois, Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE Stadium 14, EFILM, HBO, Volkswagen of America, Canon U.S.A., Inc. and Dolby Laboratories, Inc. Special support is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The Official Screening Venue is Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE Stadium 14. Stella Artois is the official beer. Renwood Winery is the official wine provider. Shellback Caribbean Rum is the official spirit. Los Angeles Athletic Club is the Official Host Hotel. WireImage is the Official Photography Agency and PR Newswire is the Official Breaking News Service of Film Independent. More information can be found at LAFilmFest.com

ABOUT FILM INDEPENDENT
Film Independent is a non-profit arts organization that champions independent film and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation, and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps film makers make their movies, builds an audience for their projects, and works to diversify the film industry. Film Independent's Board of Directors, film makers, staff, and constituents, is comprised of an inclusive community of individuals across ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation. Anyone passionate about film can become a member, whether you are a film maker, industry professional, or a film lover.

Film Independent produces the Spirit Awards, the annual celebration honoring artist-driven films and recognizing the finest achievements of American independent film makers. Film Independent also produces the Los Angeles Film Festival, showcasing the best of American and international cinema and the Film Independent at LACMA Film Series, a year-round, weekly program that offers unique cinematic experiences for the Los Angeles creative community and the general public.

With over 250 annual screenings and events, Film Independent provides access to a network of like-minded artists who are driving creativity in the film industry. Film Independent's Artist Development program offers free Labs for selected writers, directors, producers and documentary film makers and presents year-round networking opportunities. Project Involve is Film Independent's signature program dedicated to fostering the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry. For more information or to become a member, visit FilmIndependent.org.