Film festival returns to Southend

After being cancelled twice due to the COVID pandemic, September sees the welcome return of the Southend on Sea Film Festival, an annual celebration of movie making from across the globe.

This year’s jam-packed programme is a true delight for film fans, with premieres, cinema classics and emphasis on putting independent film makers in the spotlight.

The festival’s curtain raising gala night on Thursday September 16, will see Stephen Cookson’s Brighton given the glitzy opening gala treatment.

Brighton brings together the crème of British character actors to portray Derek, Dinah, Dave and Doreen, two retired working-class couples who return to the titular seaside resort after an absence of 40 years in an uproarious attempt to relive their youth.

Flashbacks to the 1950s reveal teenage Derek and Dave as a couple of lively cockney chancers out to pull as many girls as they could, and Dinah and Doreen down from London enjoying independence for the first time.

However, strolling along the promenade in the new millennium, the aged couples present a grotesque reflection of their heady rock-and-roll years as they struggle to come to terms with the changes in society and themselves. And then their day takes a turn for the very worst.

With many of the cast and crew in attendance including lead actor Phil Davis all the ingredients are in place to make this an unforgettable evening.

Other highlights of the festival include Tales From Tin Pan Alley a documentary on the infamous Denmark Street in London’s West End, Made in Essex, a programme of 13 short films all made by film makers from Essex, Southend on Stage which looks back at the history of theatres in Southend from 1793 and the closing gala screening of Killing Dad (1990), a wonderful black comedy starring Julie Walters and Richard E Grant set in Southend’s Palace Hotel.

Commenting on the various strands to this year’s festival, director Paul Cotgrove said: We have worked extremely hard to deliver a film festival that has something for everyone in this year’s programme.

“From local history documentaries to gritty beat-em-up movies, heroes of cinema to award-winning films from around the world, the Festival represents almost every aspect of movie making.

“Of course, at the Festival’s heart is the opportunity to see new work by leading independent film makers covering a broad range of themes, subjects and genres. These elements are what makes the festival very special and essential viewing for all kinds of movie fans.”

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]