Festival Brings Together Best of Celtic Traditions; BROADCASTING: Brittany Celebrates 22nd Annual Film, Television and Radio Event

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Byline: HUW JONES

I WELL remember the first Celtic Film and Television Festival that I attended in Harlech 22 years ago.

The legislation bringing S4C and Channel 4 into being had been passed a few months previously, and there was lively debate and interest as to what sort of channels these would be.

In Wales, in particular, many questions were asked as to how the new S4C channel would take shape and how it would affect the nation and the Welsh language.

For the first time I met people from Scotland and Ireland who were, like us, hoping for more opportunities to make exciting films and television from and for their own countries, as well as for the world at large.

The central element of the festival, of course, is a competition to honour the best work in film, television and now radio, in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany, both in the Celtic languages and in English and French.

Each Celtic nation or region has different strengths in terms of culture, language, broadcasting and film.

The programmes entered often reflect widely differing perspectives, but common to all is an understanding of the challenge which our cultures face in interpreting themselves afresh for the mass media of the 21st Century.

There has often been a tension within the festival between those who want to celebrate traditional culture and those who wish to see the Celtic identities interpreted in the light of modern experience and expectations.

This is a healthy tension and is reflected in the debates and seminars as well as in competition and in the less formal social dialogue.

Each year, the festival organisers try to put together a three-day programme which identifies the burning issues for film makers, programme producers and broadcasters, but often the most memorable sessions are those where big names in the industry conduct masterclasses or present their own works and offer themselves for question-and-answer sessions.

In the course of the festival's 22 years, we have seen Celtic language television stations or funding organisations being set up in Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Brittany; we have seen expansions of English-language production in the UK's Celtic countries and the challenges faced by the new media. …