Manchester Film Festival is set to unite student and professional movie-makers from across the UK in a celebration of all things film.
Opening at the Whitworth Art Gallery on April 13 and continuing at the Zion Arts Centre in Hulme for the following two days, the festival will also offer a number of workshops, seminars and debates designed to give students an insight into what it takes to break into the world of film.
The event director, 21-year-old University of Manchester student, Andrew Oldbury, says he organised the event as he felt isolated as an aspiring filmmaker and wanted to create an opportunity for people of all levels to present their work and learn what they should do next.
Andrew, who is currently studying for a master’s degree in American Literature, said: “A lot of other festivals tend to show student work separately, and whilst it's pivotal to have a platform for it there needs to be some notion of how filmmakers can progress to the next level.”
He added: “If people come away from the festival feeling like it's possible to achieve their ambitions or that Manchester has so much more still to offer, then I'll be thrilled.”
Entrants were offered the opportunity to submit films in one of four categories: Student shorts; Student short documentary; UK shorts (open to students and professionals alike); Manchester shorts.
The latter competition is open to short films (under 30 minutes) set or shot in Manchester and is designed to highlight the city’s vibrancy and diversity, as well as recognising its relevance as a national media centre.
“We wanted to reflect the dynamic and iconic nature of the city. It felt wrong to have a festival based around collaboration and looking to build a future without in some way acknowledging the rich heritage and filmmaking legacy of Manchester,” said the festival organiser.
“There are so many amazing groups, like Filmonik, that nurture local talent that Manchester really does feel that it could become a world class media player and redefine the industry as we know it.”
And Andrew’s project has no shortage of support. Along with Filmonik and the universities of the Greater Manchester area, the upcoming festival is in partnership with national institutions BAFTA and the BBC.
The festival will screen the BAFTA 2012 nominated short films and short animations, while Henry Swindell, New Writing Manager for the BBC Writersroom will be holding a workshop offering advice on how writers can break into the industry.
One of the aspiring filmmakers keen to make an impression at the festival is Katie Blagden, an English and Film student from London currently attending the University of Manchester.
Katie, aged 21, said: “As a Manchester film student, the film festival is massively important to me. Not only is it an opportunity for me to showcase my own films and receive feedback and criticism, but it's also going to be great to meet other likeminded students and filmmakers.”
Her film, titled ‘Left Behind’, is a music video about a soldier who gets lost in the woods and struggles to find out where he is and what happened. The film was originally entered in the Mike Marlin Competition and she won fourth place.
But despite her achievement this is the first year the young filmmaker has started entering competitions and she is not without pre-show anxiety.
“I'm really looking forward to the festival as a spectator, but having my film in the festival as well will be great. I'm a little nervous about seeing what people think though!”
The festival is sponsored by Your Manchester Fund, an annual giving programme established by the University of Manchester that aims to raise money for scholarships, research and community projects around the campus.
Ellen Robotham, Donor Relations Officer for the organisation states that although creative projects often suffer in times of financial hardship they are no less important to students and praises the festival director for his commitment.
She said: “Projects such as The Manchester Film Festival would not be possible without the leadership of the staff and students who conceive them and we are grateful to Andrew Oldbury for juggling his postgraduate studies with creating this amazing event which we believe will become one of our flagship student activities.”
For more information on the festival, including event listings, locations and ticket prices, go to: http://www.manchesterfilmfestival.org.uk
And make sure you check out Katie’s film ‘Left Behind’ below.