Festival Team – Sam, Kevin, Billy, Rudie, Carrie, Natalie, Charlotte, Hannah, Louise, Peter, Bradley, Spencer; Gill -absent-. Picture credit: Chris Harvey
Over 1500 people attended this year’s Romford Film Festival which was held at Premiere Cinema in the Mercury Shopping Centre. This year’s ambitious festival was spread over seven days from 19th to 25th May and featured a huge number of features and shorts (183 to be precise) from across the globe, the sixth annual festival included 6 industry talks covering a wide range of areas including funding, distribution, mental health within the industry and the benefits of being a member of Equity. The event ended with a red carpet awards ceremony awarding filmmakers for their expertise making their movies.
The festival was boosted by the opportunity to welcome back international visitors for the first time since 2019. While the festival ran through Covid most international travellers were unable to make the trip to Romford, this year they came in their droves with guests coming from as far as The United States, Uzbekistan, Canada, Greece and Spain as well as the breadth of the UK. This reaped huge benefits for the town, with over 50 filmmakers staying in local hotels and eating in the many restaurants in the town. It wasn’t just filmmakers who made the journey, film fans also travelled and stayed from across the UK and even saw the return of a repeat visitor from Rome.
“This year was a really great thing, it ticked all the boxes we had hoped for, we had a good turn out and this no doubt benefited the town. Some international filmmakers are still in Romford using it as a base to travel around the local area.” Said Festival Director Spencer Hawken.
Films screened at this year’s festival were starrier than ever, with Penn Badgley (best known as killer Joe in Netflix’s highly successful series You), Greta Scacchi, Larry Lamb, Joseph Milson, Samuel West, Jaime Winstone, Colin Baker and Sarah-Jane Potts just some of the actors appearing in this year’s line up. With attendees Larry Lamb winning best actor and Sarah-Jane Potts winning best short film for The Magician which she wrote, starred, and directed.
As they have for the last four years, the festival teamed up with the ECG Film Festival to bring the best movies from Central Asia specifically films from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and the Ukraine. Many diplomats and consulates came to the event to help celebrate movies made in these countries, including Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan H.E. Mr. Ulan Djusupov.
Local film was also a key element with documentaries about Collier Row and Becontree showing on opening night; an awesome animation from local artist Sean Sears and two young film makers Adam Daniels and Sam Walters whose films Dark & True and Resurrection appearing were popular during the event. Pitsea based genre bending movie The Visitor won Best Local Film.
The festival is organised by a group of 13 local volunteers every year with support of the Mercury and Premiere Cinemas and an array of local sponsors, including the Havering Chamber of Commerce. The not-for profit enterprise aims to support local film makers, accessibility to unique film and the prosperity of the town.
“The festival sponsors this year provided the boost needed to make the festival the largest and brightest ever and no doubt have supported the national and (even) international image of the town as well as the week’s food and beverage economy with so many static guests being in attendance.” Said fellow director Natalie Bays.
“People were very willing to help us this year now that various lockdowns have past. Hopefully this will create a platform for bigger support next year, so we can draw more stars and more guests and make the festival brighter than ever”.
The Romford Film Festival will return on 25th May 2023 and the sister festival HorRHIFFic (Romford Horror Festival) returns on 24th February 2023.
List of Winners:
Best Feature Film – Sweet Disaster (Germany)
Best Short Film – The Magician (UK)
Best Screenplay – Old Windows (UK)
Best Score – The Other One (Germany)
Best Documentary – Fraser Syndrome & Me (USA)
Best Animation – Live. (UK)
Best Foreign Language Film – Human Trash (Spain)
Best Actor – Larry Lamb – Old Windows (UK)
Best Actress – Tiggy Bailey – Tildipops (UK)
Best Supporting Actor – Joey Rasdien – New Material (South Africa)
Best Supporting Actress – Lenan Urzendowsky – Sweet Disaster (Germany)
Best Cinematography – Sweet Disaster (Germany)
Best Local Film – Visitor (UK)
Best Director – Divertimento (France)
Dana (Spain) | Pretty Boy (USA) | Anonymous (UK) | My London Lullaby (UK / Spain) | Wool (UK) | The Empty Flowerpot (Japan)
Best Feature Film – Daddy’s Girl – USA
Best Documentary – The Tears of Bea Smit – Netherlands
Best Short – (tie) – Everybody Needs Some(dead)body – UK | Hold Up – USA
Headline: The Mercury | Premiere Cinemas
Award Sponsors: Havering Changing | Havering Chamber of Commerce | Gradens Hardware Ltd | Brentwood Brewery | Nerdly | Bidvest Noonan | Romford Recorder | Phoenix FM | Royal Flush Productions | Beresfords