Kingston International Film Festival (KIFF) showcased nine short films at the Rose Theatre on Sunday ahead of the main festival in June 2022.
The festival is dedicated to providing a new supportive platform that allows young and independent film makers the opportunity to get their work out into the industry and kick-start their careers.
Festival leader David Cunningham, a writer and producer at Blue Elephant Films, introduced the shorts which were all produced by independent filmmakers.
“One of the things that concerns me most in our industry is the alarming decline of the low budget British film,” Cunningham said.
“The small independent production companies that make these films are vital to our industry. They provide the vehicles for our emergent talent to cut their teeth, to learn their trade, and above all to gain confidence to move upwards in our profession.”
The film viewings were followed by a Q&A with a panel made up of film makers and festival organisers, including BAFTA award-winning director Mike Newell, best known for directing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Four Weddings and a Funeral.
“You can make a film out of the world that goes on around you or some particular case within that world. […] If you know something – if you have a real visceral knowledge of something – then the chances are you will make a decent film of it,” Newell said.
Newell was not the only famous face supporting KIFF on Sunday. Marina Sirtis, best known for her role as Counselor Deanna Troi on the Star Trek television and four Star Trek feature films, is also an ambassador of the film festival.
“This film festival is actually about making films and about opening up the media to people who may not necessarily think that they have it in them,” she said. “I think this is going to be really good for the area.”
The Rose Theatre will be the hub of the festival, which is scheduled for June next year. But the organisers hope to involve the Odeon, the Curzon and the Townhouse, as well as parks community centre across the borough, in the three day event.
The festival will also host a programme of workshops, masterclasses and Q&As, for those that want to develop their talent.
“KIFF is coming, and for three days in June next year KIFF is going to light up this town,” Cunningham said.
About the films
The audience asked questions to Canadian director Katia Shannon, who wrote and produced Standstill which was played during the evening. Shannon went into detail about her motivation for making the film, an intense 12-and-a-half-minute feature which conveyed the terrifying reality of diabetes.
“I was setting off on my journey as a director and I wanted to give myself the challenge of conveying something which is profoundly internal and make it visible externally,” said Shannon.
Crossing the boundaries between the internal and external experience of illness was a common theme of the evening. Invasion, an entry from Australia directed by Pete Majarich, depicted a cancerous lymphoma as a mysterious alien entity and had some audience members close to tears during the film, which was just three minutes long.
The final film of the evening, titled Endo, was directed, written and produced by British filmmakers and used comedy to convey, unapologetically, the stark reality of living with endometriosis. It was a clever and emotionally engaging way to raise awareness of the disease and its effects.
The evening also included some brilliant examples of animated short films. Mr. Virus versus The Internet modelled the importance of internet safety for children through clay illustrations. It was directed, animated and narrated by 11-year-old Oliver, proving Newell’s view that “anybody of any age can make a decent documentary.”
If the film festival next year meets the same standards as Sunday’s prequel event, it will put Kingston on the map in the world of arts and entertainmaint.