What to expect from Eastleigh Film Festival 2015
PUBLISHED: 16:41 20 August 2015 | UPDATED: 16:42 20 August 2015
Eastleigh Film Festival takes over the town next month, transforming every-day venues into unique film screenings. Natalie French speaks to Owen Calvert-Lyons, Artist Director of The Point, Eastleigh & The Berry Theatre to find out more
Embracing the Secret Cinema ethos, yet a little less hush-hush - Eastleigh Film Festival returns for the second year to offer locals something a bit different. But what is it all about? “The festival is about screening films that you love in spaces you wouldn’t expect to see them. It’s about introducing people to great places that they’ve never been to before,” explains Artistic Director, Owen Calvert-Lyons.
Last year’s highlights included screening The Big Lebowksi in the AMF Bowling alley, Owen continues: “We built a screen across the lanes and set-up a White Russian Cocktail Bar (the lead character’s drink of choice). Loads of people came dressed as ‘The Dude’ in dressing gowns and slippers with drawn-on goatee beards – it was great fun”
Other screenings included Baz Luhrmann’s - Strictly Ballroom and Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie at The Point. Another success was French Cinema Night, curated by Head of Film at Southampton University, Lucy Mazdon. The evening included a talk about the history of French film in the UK and a rare UK screening of Sylvain Chomet’s, Oscar-nominated, The Illusionist.
“Perhaps the most iconic evening of last year’s festival was Dawn of the Dead,” remembers Owen. “We built a cinema inside The Swan Shopping Centre after it had closed. Audience’s watched George Romero’s legendary zombie movie and as the credits rolled a swarm of zombies appeared at the end of the corridor and chased the audiences out of the building – terrifying and exhilarating in equal measure.”
The Film Festival was designed to attract more people to explore the centre of Eastleigh in the evenings, as Owen explains: “We have some great restaurants, bars, cafes and entertainment venues in this town and we wanted to work in partnership with these organisations to make Eastleigh a destination for a great night out.”
More than 1000 people took part in the week-long festival of events last year and after an overwhelming response from customers and businesses alike, the festival is back for 2015 from 21 to 26 September.
Whilst, at the time of writing, many of this year’s events are still under wraps, I did manage to eke a spoiler out of Owen that will delight foodies.
“We will be creating a food and film evening again after the success of last year’s Big Night at La Fenice Italian restaurant. This year we will be bringing Helen Mirren’s: The Hundred Foot Journey to The Mumbai Lounge restaurant, so audiences will be able to eat a beautiful Indian meal before watching a film about a young boy from Mumbai who grows up to become a great chef.”
He also hints at an 80s classic: “all I can tell you is that ‘there is something strange, in the neighbourhood…’”
BBC Film 2014 critic, Danny Leigh, helped to shape last year’s festival and is a great supporter. Danny’s shortlist of three films offered the public a choice of what they wanted to watch on the festival’s Opening Night Gala at Vue Eastleigh. Horror classic The Shining was the top choice and made a rare return to the big screen.
“Coming to 2014’s Film Festival was a blast,” says Danny. “It was great to be at a festival where such imagination had been put into the films being screened - and where the target audience was the town itself. I’m sure 2015 is going to be even better.”
This year, Danny will be choosing his favourite films from the 1970s, 80s and 90s. These will then be put to a public vote and the winning films will be screened on a single evening during the festival.
Whilst the screenings epitomise the festival, there is also a programme of events planned to inspire 15-18 year olds to work in the film industry, explains Owen: “Our film careers day, which takes place on Thursday 24 September, is a great way for young people to find out about all the amazing jobs that exist in the film industry. Through hands-on workshops, meet-the-experts and advice from industry professionals, young people get a real insight into how the industry works and how they can be a part of it.”
Those with a passion for film-making, who don’t meet the age criteria - fear not, the festival’s industry day is not limited to young people. “Throughout the afternoon and evening of the same day we have a range of training, learning and networking events for film makers of all ages,” says Owen.
• Eastleigh film festival puts the magic back into cinema - Ever wanted to run from zombies in a real shopping centre? Hit the lanes and bowl in your old dressing gown? Or even share a ballroom with your favourite stars? Then the inaugural Eastleigh Film Festival is for you.
• Town or County - Southampton and surrounding villages - If you work in Southampton you can live in the lively thick of it all or escape to surrounding villages, as Emma Caulton finds out.