The Romford Film Festival’s fourth annual event went ahead last week despite industry scepticism of viability of physical festivals in the age of Covid-19. In a time where events are succumb to mask wearing and social distancing, even the largest, most world-renowned film festivals have been shuffled online.
Showing over 200 films on three screens to a reduced audience of c.1000 over seven days. The Romford Film Festival team created a logistical timetable suitable for a maximum of 30 guests per screen and showed other festivals that it can be done with the right vision.
“We felt that we had a duty to our independent film-makers and regular festival attendees to ensure quality movies were shown on a big screen as soon as possible” – says festival director and film maker Spencer Hawken. “This year we have had our best submissions ever and were lucky enough to show over 60 national and worldwide premieres. These fabulous productions would not have been given artistic justice through a computer screen”
To ensure safety of guests, networking events were replaced with presentations, and live interviews were taken to a special ‘greenroom’ and published at the end of each day on social media channels. The awards ceremony and opening evening were also live-streamed so that film-makers who were unable to travel from abroad could experience their films winning awards and enjoyment of spectators.
“Of course it hasn’t been easy creating a viable experience for festival goers, especially as we are the first to humbly envision how it should work! We have spent months implementing safety procedures and ensuring revenue was subsidised by sponsors as ticket sales would ultimately be reduced with a smaller audience.”
The Festival was sponsored by Premiere Cinemas, The Mercury Shopping Centre, Axis Security, Warnstar Print, NRA Roofing, Time FM and The Romford Recorder. As well as in-kind supporters ‘Galaxy Chocolate’ and ‘Captain Kombucha’. Instead of pulling out due to the changes the sponsors instead increased their support and sent goodies to attendees in the form of goodie bag contents!
The team also spent months deliberating how they would keep the atmosphere of the festival alive and did so with an enhanced hospitality team and the continual presence of film experts to discuss movies with both audience and film makers. Towards the beginning of the festival the team also found that large budget films such as ‘Kings of Mulberry Street’ and much larger festival picks such as ‘Blind’ and ‘Puppet Killer’ were forgoing festivals’ ‘exclusivity rights’ and trading the likes of the BFI and The London Film Festival to show in a real cinema in Romford.
“We are so pleased that we went ahead with the festival, both for our community of film makers, and our local audience which has grown significantly this year” says Natalie Bays, Festival Designer. We have had such great feedback from people that have been pleased and excited to enjoy film in a cinema again and a huge pat on the back from film makers who didn’t think they would see their work on a big screen this year.”
Concluding the festival on Tuesday evening, 12 awards were given in a black tie event attended by London dignitaries, including the cultural attaché of Russia to the UK and The Mayor of Havering – with a couple of awards even being received by a selection of film makers who were able to attend the ceremony from the UK.
The winners were:
Best Director – Nikola Bozadjiev – Shibil (Bulgaria)
Best Actor – Colin James O’Gorman – Eugene Vs Humanity ( USA )
Best Actress – Saara Runtti – Marras ( Finland )
Best Supporting Actor – Victor Von Schirach – The Duckpond (Sweden)
Best Supporting Actress – Georgie Flores – Cactus Boy (USA)
Best Score – Shibil (Bulgaria)
Best Short Film – Powerless (UK)
Best Cinematography – Marras ( Finland )
Best Local Film – Farside (UK)
Best Screenplay – I’m Listening (Finland)
Best Documentary – High Flying Jade (Vietnam)
Best Feature Film – Shibil (Bulgaria)
Jury Prizes – Choker (UK) / Paper House (China) / Seconds Out (UK) / Anne ( USA ) / Parka (USA)
The Romford Film Festival is now open for its fifth year, and will be showing five days of international, independent and ingenious film in May 2021.
Film makers from all over the world are invited to submit their film to show through: https://filmfreeway.com/RomfordFilmFestival.
To find out more information about The Romford Film Festival, please visit: