By midlandsmovies, Mar 12 2017 09:37AM
Midlands Movies at the Beeston Film Festival 2017
Midlands Movies headed just up the road from our base in Leicester to take our first ever look at the Beeston Festival which is now in its 3rd year and has become a popular entry into the ever-growing festival scene in the region. Editor Mike Sales jumped on the train for the Saturday session of the 4-day festival to catch up with the talent in the Midlands.
Since its inception in 2015 the Beeston Festival has grown from a small evening event to a multi-day extravaganza that showcases not only features, shorts and animations from the area but has also attracted the attention of national and international filmmakers as well.
Despite this growth, the festival has not lost its grass-roots feel taking place as it does upstairs at the White Lion Bar in the centre of the town. Films fans can catch the variety of skilled artists in the comfortable surroundings of the venue allowing the festival to grow yet still very much intimate and home-grown.
Some of the films screened at this year’s fest are Midlands Movies Awards winners and nominees Hinterland (Jess O’ Brien), Beige (written by Dan Weatherer), Dolls (Keith Allott) and Night Owls (from Sophie Black) and these are of course just a handful of many more being played at the festival. As an attendee I was lucky enough to catch even more great films from the region and beyond and the small relaxed atmosphere makes it easier – if not somewhat compulsory – to chat and network with the film’s makers themselves.
The full 4 day line up consisted of the Three Counties night focusing on local films (Thursday), the festival Horror night (Friday), drama (Saturday) and the final day on Sunday has animation, comedy and the prestigious Beeston Festival Awards.
Festival organiser John Currie made everyone feel welcome and a mix of filmmakers, writers and viewers were in the audience to enjoy both the local and the worldwide gems on offer.
Upstairs in the venue’s function room, a full capacity crowd enjoyed a number of films on Saturday for the drama category that was the focus. ‘The Buzzing of a Bumblebee’ was one of the first films I caught. A half-hour Russian film about a nursing home, the film had gorgeous cinematography whilst British film ‘Butterfly’ hit home with its story of an epileptic swimmer called Jane who has tough decisions to make in her life.
During the break I caught up with Sophie Black of Triskelle pictures (www.triskellepictures.co.uk) who gave an update on the post-production of her new project “Songbird” whilst introducing me to Adam Anwi, one of the many exciting Beeston Festival judges. Neil Oseman was also in attendance as director of photography on Night Owls which was shown earlier this week.
Another judge – who must have had very difficult decisions to select festival winners – was horror aficionado Gino Van Hecke from Zeno films (www.zenopictures.be). Having met festival organiser John Currie at an Indian film festival, the latter invited the former to the region cementing the truly international nature of this intimate festival. After the hustle and bustle of the chaotic Indian festival, Gino was impressed by the smaller but more personal tone of this event.
“The Indian festival we met at had to be moved inside because of weather and went on so long that people ran to the buffet when it was my turn to take to the stage”, he describes whilst laughing. “It was great fun though and I got to meet John and others and that’s how I’ve ended up here”.
Zeno films are a Belgium company who specialise in horror and Gino explained how his company are hoping to work towards producing a ‘Best of Beeston” DVD-anthology together to help give the films and filmmakers involved even more exposure. “I am a fan of horror having released Rubber (horror film about a killer tyre) in Belgium but I’ve enjoyed the whole fest so far and look forward to working with the team in future”.
Midlands Movies hometown of Leicester was also well represented on Saturday with Mike Yeoman from comedy film company FlipYou Productions whose film Parenthood was screened Thursday. www.flipyou.co.uk
Also in attendance was Melvyn Rawlinson, an actor as well as a filmmaker. Melvyn has created documentaries on the history of puppetry – especially Punch and Judy – as well as on the sensitive subject of dementia, an issue that is very personal to me. However, Toton based Melvyn was here in the main to support his appearance in “I am God, And Severely Underqualified” directed by Theo Gee.
As the second round of films began in the afternoon I got to see Just Words – a police investigation from Russia as well as solid dramas Squares and Transmission and others. Again each film demonstrated the high level of quality and it was credit to all of the organisers and volunteers as well as the venue’s staff that things ran smoothly.
Having to leave slightly earlier than planned, I was disappointed not to have been able to stay longer but it gave me a great excuse to return to this fantastic festival in 2018.
With a great sense of community, the Beeston Film Festival is a prize jewel and should be on every filmmaker’s list of events to submit films to each year. But much more than that, the festival has a great centre of attention on the ‘local’ that makes it all the more special for the Midlands.
For further information and much more, please check out the official Beeston Film Festival website at http://festival.beestonfilm.com/
Or follow at Twitter on @BeestonFilm
Midlands Movies Mike