Derby Film Festival – 9th to 18th May 2014


QUAD - Credit: Archant

‘Putting film fans first’ is the philosophy behind the latest event being launched this month. Nigel Powlson reports...

David Morrissey Photo: Graham Lucas Commons

David Morrissey Photo: Graham Lucas Commons - Credit: Archant

Derby is hoping to claim a place on the film festival map by hosting its own 10-day event which it aims to grow in stature over the next five years.

Adam Buss (left) and Adam Marsh (right) with Brian Blessed at a previous QUAD film event Photo: Graham Lucas Commons

Adam Buss (left) and Adam Marsh (right) with Brian Blessed at a previous QUAD film event Photo: Graham Lucas Commons - Credit: Archant

The QUAD arts centre has hosted its own ID Fest, an annual themed film event, for the last three years but is now organising its first fully-fledged film festival which it wants to expand year on year to become citywide, attracting big names from within the industry.

The first Derby Film Festival will see more than 50 screenings over 10 days in May and will feature special events, question and answer sessions with leading talent and previews of new films well ahead of their general release.

Adam Buss, one of the festival organisers, says: ‘It’s about celebrating Derby and film culture. This is about saying film is a brilliant medium and we want enthusiasts, film fans, academics, whoever you might be, to come to the festival and for general audiences to get a chance to see the breadth of what’s out there in film that they otherwise might miss.

‘In the future there will be more partnership working. We are looking at events like the Leeds Film Festival which operate across a number of venues and organisations. They have an almost Argos catalogue size brochure of things going on. But it has taken 25 years to reach that level. This year for us, it is about establishing the event, setting a marker and then exploring lots of ideas going forward.’

The Derby Film Festival will not be genre specific, like the annual documentary film festival in Sheffield. Nor will it be academically driven.

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Adam says: ‘We will be putting fans first. Festivals like Cannes, London and Edinburgh are trade festivals first. I have been lucky enough to go to Cannes and 90 per cent of it is a trade fair, like a big event at the NEC. That skews the relationship with the fans, who are really on the periphery. It’s hard for fans to engage with the films and the talent. But our pecking order is film fans first.

‘Even if we involve academics, which we want to, we will want them to come at it very much from the perspective of a film fan.’

The festival will feature at least three big names who will take part in the showcase events but there will be a lot of other screenings and activities.

Co-festival organiser Adam Marsh says: ‘I think that the festival is going to be a lot of fun this year as we are exploring the theme of technology through a strand of the programme that will incorporate trains, cars, computers, and how they have been represented in cinema.

‘Plus we will even be celebrating that much-loved format VHS with a night dedicated to the impact home video had on the world of film.

‘But it won’t all be retrospective as we will be gathering some of the best previews and premieres to screen in Derby for the first time. Among the already confirmed previews are the Mexican Cannes Award winning film Heli, the excellent documentary The Punk Singer and new film from Japanese auteur Takashi Miike Lesson Of The Evil.’

QUAD has always been successful in attracting major talent to the venue for special events with stars like Brian Blessed, Terry Jones, Ken Loach and Burton actor-director Paddy Considine making personal appearances.

The first Derby Film Festival hopes to attract similar talent and has already signed up David Morrissey as its patron; it is hoped he will be able to make this year’s festival.

Adam Buss says: ‘David is brilliant. His stock is continually rising. He does a huge amount of charity work as well as being always busy on screen. He’s also very craft orientated. He’s fully involved and on-board with the festival, he’s a massive supporter who is always championing us behind the scenes and opening up doors for us.’

Full details of the programme were still being confirmed as Derbyshire Life went to press but will be available on the festival website. There was a last minute announcement that QUAD Patron John Hurt CBE will be appearing in conversation, discussing his career in show business with writer and broadcaster Tony Earnshaw on 10th May at 8pm.

Adam Buss says: ‘One of the things we are very excited about is a personal appearance by Marcus Clarke. He’s a leading puppeteer who has worked with Jim Henson on Little Shop of Horrors and a couple of the Muppet films. He’s very well respected in the industry. He also makes his own puppets and has won BAFTAs for his work. He’s the main driver being the Bookaboo series on Channel 5.

‘He will lead one of a number of film-maker workshops. He will talk not only about the high end animatronic puppets but entry level stuff that can be part of a new film-maker’s armoury. He will also talk about working on the Muppets, so there’s something for film fans as well.’

The three ID Fest events were held over four days but the Derby Film Festival will run over ten.

Adam says: ‘I imagine we will screen up to 50 films and we will be looking to have four or five special guests, three of them being big names that everyone will know.’

QUAD also has ambitious plans to grow the festival so that it can be to film what the FORMAT festival has become to photography.

‘In the early days when QUAD opened we had to do a lot of proving ourselves and it will be the same with the film festival,’ says Adam Buss. ‘But once you get through that period you get people coming to you and your programme develops.

‘The FORMAT photography festival is at that level with its international partnerships and reputation, we are trying to take that route with the Derby Film Festival. If in five years’ time we can get the film festival to where FORMAT is now, I will be very pleased.’

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The Derby Film Festival takes place from 9th-18th May 2014

It will feature around 50 screenings, plus special events, workshops, Q&A sessions with leading talent and film-related activities.

Among the star names backing the festival is actor and director David Morrissey.

Having agreed to be patron of the festival the star, recently seen in the cult zombie series The Walking Dead and BBC TV drama The 7.39, said: ‘I wanted to be involved with Derby Film Festival because I believe in its ethos of inspiring people of all ages to engage with and celebrate film. The programme is always full of surprises and great quality and another thing I am in full support of is the commitment to ensuring that there is something for all ages, it is never too early or too late to be inspired by a visit to the cinema.’