Salmon are the Stars at BAFTA Fly Fishing Film Evening

Amid the hustle and bustle of London’s West End commuters you would have been hard pressed to notice the constant stream of people entering a small frontage on London’s Piccadilly on this late September evening. Dressed in the London business staple of grey suits and formal wear as opposed to their other wardrobe of olive green, khaki and tweed, the only possible clue to their motive in entering was the golden lettering above the door – BAFTA.

As evidenced by the photos on the walls of famous Hollywood icons such as Woody Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Brad Pitt, 195 Piccadilly, the home of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), is more used to hosting private screenings of blockbuster movies but on this night the Atlantic salmon was to be the star. Over 160 invited guests and ticket holders were ushered into the state-of-the-art Princess Anne theatre to pay homage to this most noble of all fish where they reclined in comfort whilst being treated to two quite different films. These explored various aspects of the life of the Atlantic salmon and the difficulties they face as a species, as well as the magnificent places on our planet they are to be found and the passion of those who seek them out and who also wish to protect them for future generations to enjoy.

The first film, A Passion Called Salmon, starts off by panning along the urban skyline of New York City, a location about as far removed as you can imagine from the beautifully wild and often rugged locations that the Atlantic salmon calls home. Instead this is where Director Sasa Savic lives his life. When not pursuing a high-level business career in the Big Apple, Savic decided that there were some burning questions that needed to be answered about his favourite sporting quarry. “Why do we go so far out of our way in order to catch big salmon? What is behind an almost obsessive connection with this creature?” The result is a unique documentary about the 2 year long journey to some of the most beautiful salmon rivers of the world and shares with the viewer some incredible moments and captures of stunning fish still bright and silver from the sea. All proceeds will be used for the ongoing efforts to protect and save Atlantic salmon via the work of the Atlantic Salmon Federation and the NASF.

Second up and just as eagerly awaited by the audience was Gaula: River of Silver and Gold, a film centred on Norway’s famous River Gaula and the work of Manfred Raguse and the Norwegian FlyFishers Club that he founded along with some friends in 1988 in safeguarding the future of Atlantic salmon in the river. Directed and produced by award-winning filmmaker (BBC/Animal Planet) Daniel Göz in partnership with Anton Hamacher, this is a cinematographic masterpiece that wowed the audience with its use of cutting-edge techniques such as using mini-helicopters to carry cameras over the river to create sweeping shots and dramatic aerial views and some truly beautiful time-lapse sequences capturing the majesty of the river in its rush towards the sea. True to his wildlife documentary background, Göz also spent 3 weeks of the Norwegian winter immersed in the freezing waters of the Gaula to capture some stunning footage of a spawning salmon pair. The cock fish, resplendent in his spawning livery of reds and browns sported a huge hooked kype jaw and dwarfed the hen fish next to him. This truly magnificent Atlantic salmon was estimated to weigh around 50lb – exactly the sort of fish Norway is justly famous for and which rightly drew the most gasps of the night.

As well as showcasing the movies, the evening was also a successful fundraising event for the NASF supported by sponsorships from Deutsche Bank, Solventis, Grassy Creek and Orvis and a silent auction with generous donations from The Fly Fisher Group, Farlows, Sportfish, Patagonia, Orvis, Fish&Fly, Deutsche Bank and Loop Tackle.

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