It's all Greek for movie fans as Leigh Short Film Festival goes international

Last year's festival
Last year's festival
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One of Leigh’s most successful arts events returns this weekend and is heading further afield than ever with an international element.

The Leigh Short Film Festival, which takes place on Saturday at The Turnpike, has developed a continental link with the town of Alexandria in Greece after meeting lecturer Yannis Koufonikos from Edge Hill University in Ormskirk.

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An audience of culture enthusiasts in Europe will watch the films at the same time as the movie buffs in the borough and the Greek viewers will also participate in the audience’s choice vote for the best film on the night.

Organisers are excited about the potential opportunities in the continental link and about the quality of the short movies, ranging from just a couple of minutes to around 20 minutes, which have been entered this year.

Leigh Short Film Festival chairman Paul Costello said: “The opportunity to screen the film festival in Alexandria is exciting.

“It would be great to expand this relationship with films from the local area submitting into the Alexandria Film Festival and vice versa.

“This is our fifth event and we hope people will get behind it and come along to support short film as well as put the borough on the map for cinema.”

The annual celebration of cinema in the borough is already under way as the Leigh festival held its second young film-makers’ event at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (Alra) North in Wigan last week.

Hindsight, a gritty drama set in a prison in which a criminal has to choose between a life of drugs and maintaining contact with his family, won the event to take its place in the main line-up alongside 12 other short movies.

The line-up includes films backed by some of Britain’s top cultural and cinematic organisations such as the British Film Institute (BFI) and Creative England.

Last year the event enjoyed a little soap stardust as the audience’s choice prize went to Taubman, directed by former Coronation Street actor Ben Price and starring Jack P Shepherd, best known as David Platt from the Weatherfield cobbles.

Price is returning to Leigh this year with his new film Hope Dies Last, set during World War Two and starring Wigan actor Tarek Slater, who previously went to Byrchall High School in Ashton and Winstanley College before graduating from Alra North in 2015.

There is also plenty of local talent on the bill with the night including a showing of riotous comedy Eric and the Barbarian, created by Envelope Films which has an office in Ashton and is produced by Judith Chan who was brought up in Atherton.

Crowd-funded by arts fans and featuring Brian Blessed, the film tells the tale of a nerdy man suffering a miserable existence working at a debt agency but is taken pity on by Odin who sends his warrior son to put things to rights in outrageous fashion.

The film festival is also showing Nick, a tense chiller by Standish film-maker Jack Levy about a couple who go to see a poet and end up in the company of die-hard fans where the stakes are higher than they expected.

The young film-makers’ night also showed off the borough’s up-and-coming talent, with short films from slapstick comedy to bleak post-apocalyptic works produced by Alra North students .

Fred Longworth High School in Tyldesley also made March of the Hares, a somewhat surreal and sinister drama which featured pupils as young as 11 in lead roles.

The event also gets young people into the culture industry with a team from Edge Hill filming and students from Wigan and Leigh College photographing the festival.

Some of the directors will travel to Leigh to see their work on the big screen and will also take questions from the audience and host Alexi Papadopoulos, an Alra North student who also fronted the young film-makers’ event.

As ever there will also be a charity collection on the night with film buffs’ donations this year supporting The Brick, which runs homelessness services in the borough including the new hub for people living rough in Leigh.

The Leigh Short Film Festival is backed by four patrons and two of them, Leigh MP Jo Platt and former Shameless star Ben Batt, have confirmed they will be there on the night.

The event also has a number of prestigious sponsors on board, including the Granada Foundation.

Tickets for Saturday’s event, which starts at 7pm, are still available priced at £5 for adults and £3 for concessions.

To book or find out more visit Leigh Short Film Festival's website