By midlandsmovies, Jun 28 2019 08:57AM
A showcase of high quality at the High Peak Film Festival 2019
For two years, Nicole Pott has run the High Peak Independent Film Festival. On the third year, this year, I was invited to experience it myself.
As far as first impressions go, I revelled in Nicole’s passion and unstoppable energy from minute one. You could clearly see she loved being in the heart of it all and I was quickly swept into what this film festival was about.
A four-day event covering all genres of film to movie quizzes, special guests, a 10 hour movie challenge, 50’s style black tie event, a Grease sing-along, countless networking opportunities – all of it centred around the most incredible art theatre I’ve ever laid my eyes upon.
New Mills Art Theatre has a rich history of hosting many stage performances throughout the years. Now, acting as a cinema for the High Peak Independent Film Festival, it was hard not to take your eyes off of the monumental décor. Intricately designed with royal gold and deep reds from the walls to the ceiling, the theatre recently had a renovation and wowed literally anyone who walked through the doors.
New Mills as a location is the epitome of quaint English town. I was delighted to arrive at such a modest place and experience the walks in and out of the winding streets, to discover the intriguing history of the place and its variation of mills throughout. It is steeped with local information and impressive landmarks with the river Goyt and Sett merging here. It’s very easy to love New Mills and the fact that an international film festival is held here annually adds to the unique experience.
I met Marcelo Briceno from Mexico; a filmmaker whose documentary was to be shown over the upcoming days. He casually stated that he was in Europe for Cannes where his documentary, Nostalgia, was also showing. Marcelo mentioned that he actually preferred this quiet town on the edge of the Peak District to Cannes. That made me realise why I loved being in the company of so many humble filmmakers – it was the undeniable sense of community.
As New Mills is Nicole’s hometown, she found pride and a new attendance record of creatives at the local pub after the success of the opening gala. It was great to have a few one to one chats with everyone, especially Lis Haywood, a filmmaker and actress who had flown from LA to attend her screening. Her film featured in the category of Women in Film, where I was happy to discover it was a strong topic of conversation in last year’s HPIFF too. I could only cover two days and wished to see Lis’s film! She’s awesome though and granted me a way to watch First Kill.
The audience got a lovely insight to the creative minds of the filmmakers as we got to ask them a few questions after the preview. It was a pleasant and polite practice and added a touch of warm approachability. Most were more than happy to divulge more information on how their films came to fruition, and the stories behind these movies were just as fascinating as their final piece.
I swear next year, I’m going for the whole event because two days is absolutely not enough time. The other categories shown across the event were Best of the North; films shot and based around cities such as York, Sheffield and Manchester. Further afield were films of Britain and Beyond, entries from the USA, Spain, Mexico, Iran and Switzerland featured here. There were Young Filmmaker Shorts and even a three-minute pop up theatre!
Looking at the brochure before the event began, I was like a kid in a candy shop, and I suggest any movie lover to check into this amazing saga of a film festival.
The sheer level of talent beaming from that screen was absolutely unbelievable. With every film I saw and enjoyed with the rest of the audience, there was true acknowledgement after each film finished. We might have had bloody hands from clapping too much, but it didn’t matter, we were all too captivated by the screenings. I laughed at Dave Goes West, cried at Winter Hill and my jaw dropped at Deadman’s Reach.
For the High Peak Independent Film Festival to flourish, a vast amount of volunteers stepped forward and brought it to life. The New Mills Art Theatre is run entirely by volunteers and those who are most passionate about its legacy. Many aspiring and established filmmakers, writers and producers were willing to help out where they could as well.
I saw community spirit everywhere and this is why the High Peak Independent Film Festival was a complete win for me. Kenneth James, the event’s official photographer may or may not have bribed me with chocolate cake to say some nice words. And yet, this was the very essence of the charm I was enchanted with. Nothing was cold or sterile about New Mills; I was welcomed with a warm heart, the same as many filmmakers and film lovers who had been personality invited to see their films on screen.
In the two days I was able to attend, the event was packed with all sorts of fascinating activities that could amaze, challenge and entertain anyone. So with that regard, I have already made my friends and colleagues attend 2020’s High Peak Independent Film Festival, they just don’t know it yet.
The festival was originally a three-day event, but the film entries were far too good, so an extra day was added - talk about proof in the pudding! Next year’s dates are already up so get this in your diary, 6th August – 9th August 2020 and I’ll be seeing you there!