Chelmsford Film Festival 2017: A Review

The Chelmsford Film Festival (CFF) firmly grounds itself as one of the up and coming events in the Chelmsford cultural calendar following an insightful, eclectic and overall inspiring look at the short and independent film scene.

Starting strong, the four day extravaganza began with the Everyman cinema throwing its doors open for both filmmakers and the public to enjoy a common medium. Setting a casual tone early, the festival organisers’ welcomed the audience with their own unique style, taking a more personal approach to the spectacle rather than outfit it with a strict schedule.

As the evening matured, we were regaled with insights from different roles within the industry, given a sneak peak at the up and coming film Solis and charmed by the first recipient of the CCFF Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema Award, Alice Lowe. Putting an end to the first night of festivities was an exclusive screening of interactive movie The Late shift.

Taking advantage of mobile technology, the events of the film played out depending on what the audience decided. From the minor to the life changing, every decision was put in the hands of the viewer, with the eventual end determined by the events of ‘key’ plot decisions. As an interactive experience goes, this was certainly eye opening but whether it is the future of cinema is up for debate. For our full run down click here but on the whole, it was successful enough to what it intended – getting the audience talking!

Continuing in its informality, the second night of the festival served as an opportunity for the respective audience and other filmmakers to shoot the breeze and get to know one another. As directors met producers and up and coming studios met orchestras, the drinks were flowing just as freely as the conversation.

As the sun came up on the third day, it was crunch time as the shortlisted entries were shown for the first time. A veritable smorgasbord of music videos, short films and mini-shorts (yes, that is a thing!), viewers were treated to a tasting platter of local and independent film that even Gordon Ramsey would have been proud of:

Session 1: Session 2: Session 3: Session 4:
Gone Balcony A Game of Chess Save
Weather the Storm* Hollow – Desperate journalist* In Retrospect Trial
Cure* Plane The Birthplace of Radio* Lifeline
Impact Dog Days Padlock Late Request
Gift of Life Whoever was using this bed A Hidden Stone* School of Shock
The Lock-In Felix Sweet Maddie Stone
Homer Breathe

*music videos have not been reviewed

For our reviews on each of the sessions, just click on the session name!

Split into four sessions of around 5-7 films each, the ambient, relaxed vibes were felt again as those both behind and in front of the camera were encouraged to socialise and share their stories in each of the intermissions. As the bell rang to begin another round, handshakes promised a later convergence as everyone took their seats for another batch of filmmakers to present their achievements.

There was a wide selection of films on offer with many falling under the drama/thriller genres. While most short films generally lend themselves to these genres, it really made the field much harder to select as all fought to do something different. With some real highlights scattered over all the sessions, check out our showcase to see the films we thought really stood out.

Closing things down nicely was an award ceremony set on the backdrop of local events house, The Transition. With a cheeky red carpet lighting the way, the crowds gathered to see which films packed the biggest punch from the previous day. With awards ranging from Best Short Film to the People’s Choice Award, there was a mix of everything to interest anyone who took part over the preceding three days. A big thanks goes to the organisers as we were even give the honour of presenting an award ourselves!

For a list of award winners, click here.

Once all was said and done, the inaugural Chelmsford Film Festival was successful in its mission to unite local film fans together to share in the delights of the short/independent film scene. A laid back atmosphere paired with passionate leads not only provides a strong foundation but also set the scene for a promising festival in its infancy. While there is certainly space for expansion, the local and social threads that weaved through this year’s gala were by and large one of the strongest facets the festival had to offer – let’s just hope for more of the same upon its return next year!

By Ian Morton

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