...was awesome. Saw some great films, met loads of cool people, generally had an excellent weekend. Brother Pete has blogged about the experience in detail, covering Day One, Day Two and Day Three. I think he has expressed just how excellent it was quite well so I'll just go over my highlights.
As Pete says, the only downside was that there weren't enough people there which was a shame as it really was a brilliant festival. For anyone interested in film-making there were some fantastic opportunities to learn about the inner workings of the industry. At one point I was sitting at a table with Uwe Boll, Neil Jackson, Michael Armstrong, Julian Richards and Chee Keong Cheung - it's not very often that you get such a diverse range of film-makers in the same room giving their opinions on contemporary film-making. If this was Cannes or any of the other big film gatherings there would've been a hundred or so people crowded round that table, trying to swap cards and pass on scripts and discuss deals. But it was the Arts Centre in Swindon and there was just a group of film-makers and a couple of fans sitting around chatting about films.
And that wasn't the only time something like that happened - earlier in the day Brother Pete and I had breakfast with Uwe Boll and among other things chatted about the merits of The Howling which had been on TV the night before. Another highlight was bumping into Keith Eyles, the Projects Manager from Ten Dead Men, who was screening a couple of shorts at the festival. It was a unique and awesome experience and one that was open to everyone for an incredibly reasonable admission price.
There were some really excellent films screened too, many of which I probably wouldn't have seen otherwise. Here are a few you should look out for:
Rampage I talked about when I saw it in Cannes here (I will finish writing up my diary one day). On second viewing I'm even more convinced that it's Boll's finest work to date and it was refreshing to find out after the screening that I wasn't the only one who thought so. It will never happen, but Brendan Fletcher deserves an Oscar nomination for his performance in that film.
The Disappeared was a neat little urban ghost story that is elevated by some excellent performances. I'm really tired of tongue-in-cheek horror films, so it's always nice to see a film that tackles the genre with complete sincerity like this one does. I was going to post the trailer but it ruins the ending - it's due for release soon so just look out for it, you won't be disappointed.
The Passage is another film that focuses on the characters and drama rather than blindly following the conventions of the genre. Again, the performances help but it's a good example of a slow-building storyline with a satisfying conclusion. It's also really hard to talk about as part of the fun is not knowing where it's going.
I really hope that the festival goes on again next year and that it starts to build a following. I also hope I get to show a film there again, if not next year then maybe the following year (fingers crossed).
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