Independent filmmakers take center stage at this year’s Southend Film Festival

Movie List – There’s Always Hope

We will soon be seeing the welcome return of the Southend-on-Sea Film Festival from May 26-29, where there will be a program filled with film classics, documentaries and insights into the history of Southend.

This year there will be a focus on putting independent filmmakers in the spotlight.

The black curtain of the festival lifting the gala Thursday night, May 26th, will see acclaimed Irish actor Colm Meaney in Southend for the screening of the fantastic 2021 drama There Always Hope.

He stars alongside Kate Ashfield in director/screenwriter Tim Lewiston as successful author Jonathan Stack, who has been so obsessed with trying to write his own successful novel that he has left his marriage to fall apart. Frustrated, wife Samantha announces that she is leaving him. Shocked and stunned, Jonathan drives his old Jaguar XK150 to the family’s villa in Portugal. Enter Hope (Hannah Chinn), their young daughter, who is after her father to find out what went wrong. However, she discovers that the truth is more complex and unexpected than she thought.

Fans of classic Hollywood movies will be able to enjoy treasures all weekend including Rock Hudson and Doris Day in Lover Come Back (1961), Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in The Vernon Story and Irene Castle (1939) and the always-cute George Sanders in Bluebeard’s Ten Honeymoons (1960).

There is plenty of international cinema to enjoy with films from Germany, France, Japan, South Africa and Norway. Finland represents Inspector Palmo’s fault – a notorious businessman is found dead in his indoor pool, and Inspector Palmo is called in to investigate. This brilliant and suspenseful black comedy from 1960, the first in a prestigious series, was voted the best Finnish film of all time by the country’s film critics in 2012.

For those who enjoy real-life stories, there are plenty of documentaries to explore, including A Long Story, an all-new documentary that charts the history of Southend’s most famous landmark – the world’s longest fun pier. Rebel Dread (2020) is a fantastic documentary about the legendary Don Letts, musician, DJ and film director who has emerged as a videographer on The Clash and many others. The wonderful Italian documentary Pescamare (2019) tells of fishermen who sail from small ports in Italy to meet the challenges of the oceans – and who otherwise wouldn’t be able to. Magnus – a 2016 Norwegian film – explores the drive, passion, and individuality of chess prodigy Magnus Carlsen who became a major expert at the age of 13 and world champion in 2013.

Local filmmakers are well represented, including an event called Made in Southend with twelve locally made short films for people to enjoy. As Conversations at Lockdown – filmed in Essex by Elyza Mells – are featured in this powerful study an intimate and honest discussion between the filmmaker and people close to them revealing their thoughts and feelings about the UK’s first pandemic shutdown in summer 2020. At By the Dome It Is Known: The Kursaal Story Local film historian Chris Izod will use films and photos from the archives to explore the history of our world-famous theme park, including memories of Eric the Will, Al Capone’s famous “killer” car, the world-renowned Tornado Smith and the Wall of Death.

The closing ceremony on Sunday, May 29th is a celebration of the fair’s 50th anniversary of festival sponsor, famous actor Phil Davis. There will be a show for the powerful Drama Identifier, which he directed in 1995, which follows four cops in disguise to infiltrate a gang of football hooligans, hoping to get to know their leaders. However, for one of the four, the line between “job” and “yob” becomes more blurred than ever. Phil will be joining the gala party, and will be speaking candidly about his amazing career in a Q&A after the show.

Commenting on the different tracks of this year’s festival, director Paul Cutgrove said: “It may be a cliché, but I think there is something for everyone in this year’s programme. From documentaries to blockbusters, champions of cinema to award-winning films from around the world. , the festival represents nearly every aspect of filmmaking. Of course, at the heart of the festival lies the opportunity to see new work by leading independent filmmakers covering a wide range of subjects, themes and genres. It is these elements that make the festival so special and essential to watch for all kinds of movie lovers.” .

For full lists and details on venues and where to buy tickets, go to

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