Watersprite festival director Marianne Styger recalls her days at Altrincham Girls’ Grammar School

Marianne Styger

Marianne Styger - Credit: Archant

A student from Timperley has played a starring role in a film festival packed with big name.

Marianne Styger

Marianne Styger - Credit: Archant

Jim Broadbent, Rob Brydon, Victoria Wood and Richard Curtis were all part of the stellar cast put together by a student from Timperley for an international film festival.

Marianne Styger was the director of the Watersprite festival, which is staged annually by students at the University of Cambridge and which this year featured films made by students in 48 countries.

The former Willows Primary School pupil is studying French and Italian at the University of Cambridge and she said: ‘The festival has grown remarkably quickly and we had a huge number of impressive speakers. It’s a great weekend and it’s always a bit sad when it finishes.

‘The festival’s patron is Hilary Bevan-Jones, a filmmaker and former chair of Bafta, and it has been down to Hilary and her contacts that we have been able to attract so many star names.

‘We adore our speakers. They aren’t paid for their involvement but they’re happy to spend time talking and answering questions. It’s obvious that they are as passionate about developing the next generation of talent as we are.’

The festival doesn’t just attract star names, it helps create them too. The first winner in 2009, William McGregor, went on to develop his short into a full length feature with the BFI, and direct the E4 series Misfits.

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The 21-year-old has fond memories of Friday nights spent at home with her family watching movies and she developed her love of film at Altrincham Girls’ Grammar School.

‘It is from watching foreign language films in class in preparation for my French and Spanish A-Levels that I developed a love of cinema and its ability to tell stories from around the globe, which is what drew me to Watersprite given its international reach,’ she said.

She signed up to be involved with the festival at the freshers’ fair where she also had her name down for Ultimate Frisbee – ‘I signed up for all sorts of things that I ended up never going to,’ she added. ‘I came on board with the festival as head of finance and sponsorship and fell in love with it.’

She served as head of events for the 2012 festival and after missing a year while her studies took her to Quebec, she returned for this year’s event in March as festival director and is hoping to retain an involvement after she graduates in July.

‘I hope to pursue a career in film upon graduating, and it’s very encouraging to see the opportunities now available in the North West with the development of Media City but a few people are going to carry on working with the festival in advisory role and I hope to do that too.’

This summer though, Marianne will be heading back to Canada for a road trip which she’s considering capturing on camera. ‘I was just going to take a stills camera, but I could make my first foray into film making.’