Interview by Jonathan Peters
Responses by Hugh Memess
Tell me about the Durham Film Festival. What is it and when is it happening?
It’s a chance for student and professional film makers to showcase their talent, and get their work seen by people from across the world. It’s an opportunity for anyone interested in film to see new ideas and innovations, with many funny, emotional, exciting and though provoking films on offer. Durham University’s annual film festival is to be held 20th and 21st February. Friday is devoted to viewing the best of the local and international entries. Saturday is dedicated to workshops and seminars with experts on the film making craft, working in the industry.
How long has the festival been running?
Over the past three years, the Durham Film Festival has received outstanding examples of student film from all over the world. Now in its fourth year and, the festival is open to both student and professional film productions through unique award categories.
Who are the judges this year and what are they known for in the film industry?
Chris Terrill and Richard Edwards-Earl are among this year’s judges. Chris is a documentary film maker who has worked on the front line in Afghanistan and Richard is a freelance film maker who has worked on Edge of Tomorrow and Paddington. Chris has seen the real depths that humanity can sink to in Afghanistan – so our showings will need to be good to impress him. Paddington has been credited with providing a major boost for the British film industry, and Edge of Tomorrow noted as one of the best films of 2014.
How did you manage to get in contact with those guys?
Richard is part of Durham’s Alumni and says that at Durham he found he enjoyed filmmaking almost as much as his Classics degree!
Chris did a degree in Anthropology and Geography at Durham in the 1970s and since then has had an amazing range of international experience, he lived with the Acholi tribe of southern Sudan and went on to join the BBC as a documentary producer – he uses film as a research tool for anthropology field work. He won an Emmy for his movie Ape Trade on the illegal trade in Orang-utans.
Have you seen the entries yet? Any ones to look out for?
There are a wide range of films being shown, from the hilarious to the heartbreaking. We’re still in the process of judging at the moment, but I can say that there are a many very fine movies and such a variety that everyone will have their favourite.
What is the process for selecting what gets shown?
The Durham Film Festival committee and the Durham Student Film (DSF) society exec watched through and discussed the films to choice the ones to be shown.
What are the ambitions for the festival in future years? Do you envision the growth of Durham’s film scene, or the town becoming a real hub for independent British filmmaking?
Durham is a magnet for television and film makers. The City and its environs makes it a wonderful setting for all kinds of production. From Inspector George Gently to Harry Potter. The Centre for Film and Digital Media at the University of Newcastle means there is a real regional centre for film in the North East and cultural initiatives such as our Film Festival create a loci for innovation which attracts yet more talent. We hope to see the festival expand in scope and breadth in the next few years. Durham students continue to prove themselves as talented filmmakers, with many fine films being made through the filmmaking society, DSF.
For the schedule and more information visit http://www.durhamfilmfestival.org/programme/