Words by Helen Knott
On Friday 25th November, the inaugural Birmingham Film Festival (BFF) opens at The Mockingbird Cinema & Kitchen. Events run across the weekend, including screenings, seminars, panel discussions and a special Gala Awards Ceremony at the Park Regis Hotel to close the show.
Film screenings will be shown in ‘blocks’ across the weekend – featuring up to 10 short films, or one feature film, in each block. Admission to each block is priced at £5.00, with Day tickets also available for £20 and a weekend pass priced at £50. For direct festival info, including full programme and online ticket sales, click here.
Historically Birmingham’s relationship with film and TV was largely defined by shows made at Central Studios on Gas Street and at Pebble Mill in Edgbaston: Crossroads, Doctors, Tiswas, Bullseye…
How things are changing. Earlier this year, Steven Spielberg was spotted shooting scenes from his new movie, Ready Player One, in the Jewellery Quarter and Digbeth, joining a growing number of film and TV production companies shooting work in the city (other recent examples include The Girl With All the Gifts, Hustle and Kingsman: The Golden Circle).
The BBC’s perceived lack of investment in the region continues to ruffle feathers, but it seems that organisations such as Film Birmingham are doing a sterling job of attracting production companies to the city. It’s a fitting time, therefore, for the launch of Birmingham Film Festival – a new festival dedicated to giving local filmmakers an opportunity to showcase their work alongside international contemporaries.
But BFF is also a resurrection of sorts, filling the void left by the annual Birmingham International Film and Television Festival which ran from 1985-2002. Of course, Birmingham still has some brilliant film festivals, such as Flatpack, Shock & Gore, Behind the Curtain, Black International Film Festival, and it seems that BFF aims to work alongside these existing events, creating more opportunities to nurture local talent.
BFF has reportedly attracted features, shorts and documentaries of all genres from over 20 countries. Screenings take place at The Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen in The Custard Factory and are open for anyone to attend, though details on the actual films on show are rather sparse at the moment (the BFF’s Twitter and Facebook profiles appear to be the best sources of information). The BFF film programme is accompanied by seminars, Q&As and an awards gala.
But having Oscar-nominated screenwriter, creator of Peaky Blinders, and all around top Brummie Steven Knight as patron is a clear signal of the festival’s ambition. Knight has grand plans to open large new studios in Birmingham; hopefully as Birmingham’s TV and film industry continues to grow in stature, BFF will develop alongside it.
Birmingham Film Festival runs at The Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen from 25th to 27th November. For more on the Birmingham Film Festival, including a full festival programme and online tickets sales, visit www.birminghamfilmfestival.com
For more from The Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen, visit www.mockingbirdcinema.com