Putting the brightest and the best young talents on screen

Creative Media Production pupils Alex Hermon and Alex Parnell are creative advisors at the Suffolk F

Creative Media Production pupils Alex Hermon and Alex Parnell are creative advisors at the Suffolk Film Festival founded by their teacher from Suffolk One Darren Meitiner-Harvey, which will have special screenings at the Ipswich Cineworld on July 15 and 22. - Credit: Archant

As Suffolk’s cultural provision grows ever stronger we need to start investing in the future. Arts Editor Andrew Clarke salutes a new grassroots film festival based at Ipswich sixth form college Suffolk One.

Suffolk-based director of photography Steven Hall who is supporting the Suffolk Film Festival based

Suffolk-based director of photography Steven Hall who is supporting the Suffolk Film Festival based at Suffolk One

As Suffolk becomes increasingly confident about its place in the arts world and as it consistently delivers events which attract national and international attention, it needs to make sure there is another generation waiting in the wings, ready to move the county’s cultural offering up to the next level.

That process takes a significant step forward this weekend when Ipswich sixth form college Suffolk One plays host to the first Suffolk International Film Festival.

It truly is an international festival with organisers having to select a programme from more than 430 short films submitted by young film-makers from around the world.

Darren Meitiner-Harvey, director and founder of the festival, said that Suffolk students were also invited to enter into the competition, allowing local talent to show their work alongside their peers from across the globe.

The event is being organised by One Film Society, a voluntary group who are dedicated to education, developing local film making, and the notion that film making can enrich both culturally and economically.

Darren and One Film Society are to be congratulated for persevering with this wonderful initiative because it is exactly this sort of event which will throw up the next Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, Alan Parker or Stephen Frears.

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Out of the 400-plus submissions the judges, including film critic Mark Adams and arts journalist Caroline Jowett, have created a short-list of 40 films which will be screened during the festival.

These films, which represent the cream of the crop, ranging from animation to drama to documentary, will be eligible for 11 awards including best narrative film, best student short and best documentary.

Darren rightly observed that there is a hunger for an event that shines the spotlight on young, upcoming film-makers and the talent is certainly there.

He said: “I was very surprised by the number of entries. It’s quite tough to get something like this off the ground so we thought we might get about 200 films. It has exceeded our expectations.”

With the quality of entries incredibly high, it will also maintain Suffolk’s reputation as a home for high-class arts events. Providing close attention is paid to keeping the standard high then it could quickly become the film equivalent to HighTide.

Darren is already thinking about how to make next year’s event even more ambitious.

But, as any film-maker, writer, musician or artist will tell you, creative imagination is never enough. You need to know how to sell yourself and know exactly what goes into creating an entertaining, polished piece of work. You have got to know how to get a film made and what pit-falls you are likely to encounter along the way.

In order to provide practical help Darren has recruited Suffolk-based director of photography Steven Hall to not only act as one of the judges but to come in and run practical workshops.

Steven said: “It’s all about investing in grassroots talent. It’s about supporting the next generation and giving them the tools they need to realise their tremendous talents.

“I will be hosting a workshop about film-making and will be executive-producing a 15 minute student film in September.

“Suffolk One will be providing the location and the equipment. It will have a zero-budget but the students will write, produce, film, edit and star in the film. The idea is that they will get first-hand experience of what goes into making a film.

“I think they have got a really good film festival here. It’s been a little bit seat-of-pants but you expect that for the first one. It’s about learning from experience.

“But, the bottom line is that they have got some stunning films in the competition and this will attract equally good or even better entries next year and the year after and I think that this event deserves to get much, much bigger.”

He said that he applauded the festival’s ambition and the fact that it was centred around students. “I think the film will be an opportunity for those who are keen to make something and put their stamp on something. A short-film is a calling card which you can take with you and it can lead to new opportunities.”

The Suffolk International Film Festival awards evening will be held tonight between 6.30pm and 9.30pm at Suffolk One.

Tomorrow there will be a children’s workshop on practical stop motion session and animation screening. Also all the award-winning films will be played in full throughout the day at UCS, as well as on Monday July 15 and at Cineworld on Monday July 22.

On Saturday at UCS’s Waterfront Building there will be a public question and answer session from 11am with Suffolk-based producer Richard Johns from Corona Pictures, maker of the crime thriller The Liability, and from 6pm to 8pm there will be a screening of festival films and a Q&A with composer Michael Price and Tammy Riley-Smith

If you are interested in attending any of the events, email suffolkfilmfestival@hotmail.co.uk For more information visit www.suffolkfilmfestival.com