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Some of the Hastings film makers including Mark French (r)

Some of the Hastings film makers, including Mark French (right).

Doors open for home-grown film festival

UPDATE: CORRECTION TO STORY. The  Hastings Shorts series of short films, showing Saturday 27 April at 2.30pm at The Jerwood Gallery, is a new collection and not, as we originally reported, a repeat of last year’s Arrow In The Eye event.

As officials prepare their bid for Hastings and Bexhill to be named City of Culture 2017, they would do well to attend to the immensely vibrant and energetic community of film makers and film lovers in Hastings and St Leonards. To nail home the point, Hastings Electric Palace cinema is presenting the first ever film festival featuring films sourced from Hastings. Hastings Film Makers Festival takes place from Friday 26 to Sunday 28 April, reports HOT’s Richard Hull

I only moved here 18 months ago, but I soon realised that the towns of Hastings and St Leonards boast a film culture more suited to a very large major city. There is the Electric Palace, St Leonards Film Society, the soon-to-arrive Cult Film Archive (see HOT’s story here) and many significant events, such as last year’s Ingrid Pitt Memorial Horror Film Festival with its notorious lesbian vampirism (read Joe Fearn’s excellent analysis), the now annual Hastings Film Challenge competition, the appearance of St Leonards at the Straight8 Film Festival in Cannes and not forgetting the Trash Cannes Community Film night at the Stade.

In addition, last May the Electric Palace hosted Arrow In The Eye, a selection of short films from and/or about Hastings and St Leonards. This event was put together by film maker Mark French, who is also the curator of the 2013 Hastings Film Makers Festival. He has drawn together some exceptional talents, who have produced new works including several full-length feature films and an eclectic selection of shorts.

Still from Sharples & Bruce's film Alcina

Still from Sharples and Bruce's film Alcina.

He told HOT: “It is extraordinary to have so much talent concentrated in the locality – and although the genres are diverse, the programme aims to show how closely linked the films are in style and substance. They range from black comedy to social satire, off-beat drama to mystical experimentation, music documentary to opera re-worked as film fantasy. All the work has been created in the past year or so and many of the films will be premieres and previews.

Most screenings will be followed by a question and answer session with the directors, and early booking is highly recommended.

Opening the festival is opera film Alcina, which blends fantasy visuals with real performances filmed in Hastings and St Leonards. Adapted from Handel’s work of the same name, this is the story of an enchantress on a magical island who loses her powers of seduction. It is the fruit of an extraordinary collaboration with Barefoot Opera, an ensemble of jazz singers, opera singers and musicians directed by Sam Sharples and Nichola Bruce and based on the stage production by Polly Graham and Jenny Miller.  This will be presented by St Leonards Film Society at Christ Church Parish Centre, London Rd, St Leonards, on Friday 26 April at 8pm. See for tickets for this event only.

Still from Richard Heslop's 'Frank'

Still from Richard Heslop's Frank.

Saturday at 5pm sees a screening of the legendary Swandown, Andrew Kotting’s report of last year’s journey from Hastings to Hackney via the Olympic Park – on a swan-shaped pedalo! Earlier in the programme, there is Bindu de Stoppani’s Jump, a romantic drama set in a stunning Italian village in Switzerland, while the day rounds off with well-known Hastings director Richard Heslop’s Frank, a dark, existential black comedy about a lonely outsider who finds friends in the strangest of places.

Still from Nick Pilton's film Interference

Still from Nick Pilton's film Interference.

Sunday starts with the preview screening of Nick Pilton’s Interference, which is set in an isolated country house in the Sussex hills where a dysfunctional family confronts dangerous relationships, drug-induced paranoia and secrets that should never be heard.  At 2.30pm at the Jerwood Gallery, following the success of last year’s  Arrow In The Eye event there is a new collection of short films. 5pm at the Electric Palace sees the premier screening of Mark French’s own work, Hear Now, about the legendary free-jazz saxophone improviser Trevor Watts, a Hastings resident whose influence is recognised world-wide. The festival closes with Carol Morley’s Edge, where snowed-in hotel guests trapped in a frozen Eastbourne landscape gradually begin to thaw and find a purpose that connects them all.

For most tickets see, except Alcina (see above) and Hastings Shorts at the Jerwood Gallery, for which call 01424 728377.


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Posted 18:50 Friday, Apr 26, 2013 In: Film

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