See what happened when the Herne Hill Free Film Festival turned Brockwell Lido into a cinema for an evening, to screen Grand Budapest Hotel? People were queueing round the block to get in. Film by Annie Needham.
Fahzan is one of our volunteer projectionists and spent several hours last Sunday taking apart one of our two mixing desks.
“I could solder before I could write”, Fahzan told me, having been taught as a young boy by his dad, who was an engineer.
Free Film Festivals is completely run by volunteers, and lots of their work goes on like this behind the scenes to make the festivals possible.
Fahzan’s skills were needed because one of the faders (volume controls) was faulty and needed removing and a new one soldering in its place, which meant taking the whole unit apart.
We have a small stock of projectors, PAs, screens and other gear which all seven Free Film Festivals can borrow or hire at low cost. Having volunteers who can help us maintain our equipment means we know it’s always in good nick.
The first use of the repaired mixer was at the Station Square screening of the 1955 classic Ealing comedy, The Ladykillers, at part of the Herne Hill Free Film Festival.
Peter Sellers’ and Alec Guinness’ comic dialogue came across loud and clear, thanks to Fahzan’s trusty soldering iron.
The Free Film Festivals season is definitely underway.
As a volunteer for the New Cross + Deptford Free Film Festival, I have been getting excited seeing the big audiences and packed out venues on the Instagram feed for Camberwell’s festival, which finished last week. Ours is getting closer now. Can’t quite believe it, but the launch night Friday Night Fever, when we will be screening Saturday Night Fever and then having a 70’s disco afterwards at Deptford’s newest venue Number Three London, is in three weeks’ time. Better dig out the wide lapels and platforms, but be prepared to join the waiting list here if you haven’t already got your ticket.
It takes a lot of planning and a lot of meetings to get a film festival from a nice idea to a brilliant film-filled reality. The discussions about whether we can afford portaloos, the calculations about how much beer to buy, sometimes you forget that at the heart of the festival is the programme of films. It can be a tense time wondering exactly which events are going to come off, but somehow every year an eclectic programme comes together. Thus the magic of a local film festival and a committed core team of organisers! The beauty of this festival is that anyone is welcome to turn up with an idea and receive help to execute it. You will get technical support and helpful guidelines from the festival organisers, along with promotion on the social networks, but it’s basically your gig.
As for my highlights, I always look forward to our two big, pedal-powered outdoor events: this year we are showing Guardians of the Galaxy at Fordham Park which takes place on the first Saturday, 25th April, and the classic 1939 Wizard of Oz at Telegraph Hill Upper Park on 2nd May. Cross your fingers for kind weather! There is also the YouTube cat compilation film which was inspired by the Minneapolis Internet Cat Video Festival, link here, which has been sold out many times over, and which I know I won’t get near to seeing. I, a confirmed cataholic, am totally intrigued by this idea and by the huge success of such videos! For kids we also have Paddington showing at the Shaftesbury Christian Centre on Frankham Street, and Frozen Singalong at Deptford Lounge. Deptford Lounge is showing a whole ream of films from 27th April; I am going to try and make it along on 29th April when they are converting their upstairs hall into the gym from Carrie, to screen the original 1976 film. Scary but good!
The festival is a great excuse to use new and different venues in New Cross and Deptford. This year’s festival allows us the chance to nosey around a few new locations. We are really pleased to be holding our launch party at Number Three London, which is a new space on Creekside run by the same people behind the Big Red Pizza Bus, and which is currently hiring for use as a gallery, club space, recording studio and general sociable place. Also, for the first time in many years, we have a cinema in the Borough of Lewisham, Deptford Cinema, which of course is getting involved in the festival. I really fancy seeing Barber Shop City, a documentary showing a day in the life of three London barber shops. You can also have a look in The Field, 385 Queens Road, which is an experiment in creating a new institution of the commons, for local, self-organised research, education and action. They are showing two films, Asylum from the Madness and Sí Se Puede!, both with relevant guest speakers and panel discussions, including the director of the former.
Sanford Housing Co-op as usual plays an important part in the festival. They are hosting a series of events entitled Ways Out: Unfolding The Topography Of The Possible, inviting you to seek ways out of the labyrinth, investigate alternatives to generic Capitalism, expand your space for making free, independent and fertile choices. Come along and encounter people with the courage to act for a better world and think beyond self-imposed limits. There are no limits!
The festival ends on a high note on Sunday 3rd May. Don Letts, legendary DJ, musician and filmmaker, will be talking about his documentary film The Clash: Westway To The World followed by a DJ set at the Job Centre in Deptford. It’s the Sunday of the Bank Holiday weekend, so we trust you will join us to celebrate another fun and very free film festival in our beloved corner of the world.
For full listings please see the main festival website at this link and keep up with what’s happening on Facebook or Twitter.
I’ve been to five events in the 2015 Camberwell Free Film Festival – watching terrific films in a pub, football club, community hall, church crypt, and today at the Salvation Army training centre, William Booth College.
In all, the 2015 Camberwell Free Film Festival (which finishes on Sunday 29 March) will show films in 16 different venues.
I asked, Mark Rose, the College’s Business Services Director, why the William Booth College decided to host as event. Here’s what he told me.
Women in Film are a small informal group who meet to discuss and watch films, as well host events/talks during the Peckham and Nunhead Free Film Festival. Our main aim is to promote the diverse work women contribute within film.
The Peckham and Nunhead Free Film Festival is back for its sixth year. It’s my first time helping on the festival, so I’m finding out how it all works. We had our second planning meeting on Wednesday 26th February at All Saints Church Hall in Blenheim Grove, Peckham, where we started to thrash out what films we’d like to show at this year’s festival, and at what venues. Meetings are all very chilled and easy-going, if there’s a film you fancy showing, and a venue in the SE15 area where you’d like to see it screened, you just suggest it, there’s a bit of discussion and if it all seems practical then it should go ahead.
Some amazing films have been suggested so far together with lots of venues across SE15, from classic pubs such as the White Horse on Peckham Rye, The Old Nun’s Head in Nunhead and several Tenants’ and Residents’ Halls to the atmospheric Asylum Road Chapel and cosy Rye Books. All of these have to be negotiated and confirmed, of course. Films have to be agreed, film licenses bought and a whole other load of logistical stuff has to take place right up to and during the festival.
At last year’s festival, over 300 people came to an amazing outdoor screening of Oh Brother Where Art Thou on Peckham Rye. There were lots of other great events too, including a screening of Derek Jarman’s War Requiem at All Saints Church, Blenheim Grove, a film set to Benjamin Britten’s musical composition of the same name; a series of short films were shown at the wildlife garden at Northfield House just off the Old Kent Road, and a screening of Chaplin’s Modern Times went down a treat at The Ivy House pub on Stuart Road. Meetings take place once a month (there’s no meeting in March, next meeting 16 April), it’s all very relaxed and informal and everyone is welcome.
It would be great to have some new volunteers, anyone interested, just check the website for dates/venues of meetings and come and join us!
The South Norwood and Thornton Heath Free Film Festival is set to return for its second year in October.
The first planning meeting for this year’s festival will take place at Stanley Halls, 2 South Norwood Hill, South Norwood, London SE25 6AB on Tuesday 24th March at 7.30pm.
Last year’s festival was a huge success with over 300 people coming to see a film for free during the festival week in venues across South Norwood and Thornton Heath. From a night of musical entertainment to short films and Pulp Fiction in a pub, singalong Dirty Dancing in the tennis club and a night of Halloween Horror in Stanley Halls, the film festival was a community event like no other in the area.