Screen Stockport

16 October
Stockport Plaza

Thursday 16 October marked the fourth annual Screen Stockport festival. Dubbed as the North West’s answer to independent filmmaking, this was a day packed with inspiring work. This year’s festival marked a departure from the usual format, as the schools and international shorts were all combined into one long day of festivities, ending with a screening of the much praised film Frank (Abrahamson, 2014). I went along to help out organiser Joe Barratt and have a look behind the scenes.

Just after 10am, Stockport’s fantastic Plaza cinema was already buzzing with life. Hundreds of students, happy to be out of school for the day, as well as filmmakers from London and beyond crowded inside the grand doors for a chance to see their films on the big screen.

Things kicked off with the Short Short Film and Short Film categories. The former was won by the delightfully coy Taking Chances, a tale of romance and heightism. The Short Film category meanwhile saw a triumph for the self-reflective An Actor Prepares from the Armagh Theatre Group. This witty piece really hit home with sentiments such as, “When the dole becomes your unofficial Arts Council grant”.

After a short coffee break, during which I manned the merchandise stall and chatted with entrants, it was onto the North West Short Film category. Taking home the trophy for this was the hilarious mockumentary The Dog Whisperer, whose leading actress stole the show. Meanwhile, the voyeuristic A Day in the Life of the Bathroom Mirror provided a very revealing insight into an otherwise unassuming household item.

Fed and watered, the afternoon consisted of the eagerly anticipated Schools and Colleges and University Short Film categories. The standard of entries for these was simply astonishing, with fascinating experimental works such as Colour Melody, alongside an emotive playground drama entitled Archie. The winners, The Residence and Delicacy respectively, both had something of the gothic horror about them, though far from Penny Dreadful. Another one to watch was 10-year-old Ethan Manley, whose commended film The Illustrated Boy was all shot and edited on an iPad.

A personal highlight of the day was hearing acclaimed director and guest judge Carol Morley speak about her career. Chatting to her and the producer Cairo Cannon after the event about succeeding as women in the film industry was really eye-opening. Carol’s newest film The Falling is due to be released in April. There are rumours of a Stockport Plaza premiere, so watch this space.

What was clear from being a part of Screen Stockport for the first time is just how important this festival is to the community. It really is a landmark event for the town, and gives the glamorous Plaza the sort of attention it deserves. So long live Screen Stockport, and here’s to the next one.

Elspeth Vischer


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