A look ahead to the Harrogate Film Festival

Harrogate Film Festival gave audiences a taste of what was to come at a series of warm-up events – i

Harrogate Film Festival gave audiences a taste of what was to come at a series of warm-up events – including a Casino Cinema night at The Restaurant Bar & Grill - Credit: Archant

Harrogate’s newest festival celebrates the magic of cinema.

Harrogate Film Festival

Harrogate Film Festival - Credit: Archant

Harrogate is no stranger to festivals. Music, history, crime writing, literature – all are celebrated in an annual programme so packed there’s barely room for a wafer-thin mint between them.

Film fans will, of course, immediately leap on that not very subtle reference to the explosive ending of The Meaning of Life, a movie made by those very silly Monty Python boys, and on the fact that, up until now, the art of the big screen has not been part of Harrogate’s yearly cultural feast.

But that’s all changing this month as the lights dim, people start unwrapping unfeasibly noisy sweet wrappers and we all settle back for a weekend of unfettered film fun.

The inaugural Harrogate Film Festival, sponsored by Raworths Solicitors, is hosting more than 15 separate events across ten venues over the weekend of March 4th-5th.

Romance is in the air at Harrogate Film Festival

Romance is in the air at Harrogate Film Festival - Credit: Archant

Founder Adam Chandler, director of Harrogate-based video production company Reel Film, has developed the idea over the last three years and believes it could be the start of something epic for the town.

His ambition is to make it ‘one of the most loved and successful film festivals in the future’. Expanding on his philosophy further, he said: ‘Our motto – ‘join in’ – encapsulates the vision for the festival, where we look to delight film-watchers and film-makers by developing unique events, from experience screenings to showcasing the best of cinema and independent film, in different venues around this historic town.

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‘We are looking to go beyond the screen, giving film-makers a platform to showcase their work, develop their skills and learn from experts.’

The festival has struck up a prime partnership with Harrogate’s new Everyman Cinema to showcase its first ever independent filmmaker’s competition. More than 500 competitors from 45 countries have submitted entries in six short film genres: drama, comedy, thriller, documentary, romance and music.

Film fans will have the chance to vote for their favourite across the festival weekend and the Audience Choice Award will then be presented, along with all the other awards, at The Crown Hotel on Sunday evening.

Adam and his team aim to captivate the residents – and filmmakers – of Harrogate and the surrounding district by offering innovative events, new cinema experiences, film education, interactive events and competitions across one film-tastic weekend.

It’s also another prime opportunity to further cement the town’s position as a cultural hub, not just in North Yorkshire, but across the UK as a whole.

‘Harrogate Film Festival is a wonderful opportunity for the town to assert its appeal as a prime destination for enterprise and activity,’ said Zoe Robinson, of key sponsor Raworths. ‘We’re delighted to support this exciting and innovative venture.’

The inaugural festival begins with the visually stunning Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, which perfectly captures this year’s theme – the future of film and how far it has come.

Other festival highlights include an experience screening of British cult zombie movie Shaun of the Dead, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, in Harrogate’s oldest pub, Hales Bar, where audience members will be invited to share a pint or two with special guests (who may or may not be alive). And a children’s experience screening of Toy Story at Ashville College, including arts and crafts, refreshments inspired by the film and a chance for mini film fans to dress up as their favourite character and treat their very best toy to a day out.

There will also be a two-hour filmmaking workshop led by industry professionals, a short course in film acting taught by local professional actors, and a panel discussion on the future of film, taking in business video, feature films, television and digital media and ending with an audience-led Q&A.

For a full programme of events and to book tickets, visit harrogatefilm.co.uk