A bold new era as Wigan and Leigh film festival moves

Members of Wigan and Leigh Short Film Festival, are delighted to host the event at The Old Courts, Wigan, from left, Paul Costello, Rob Tongeman (both from film festival), Jess Rotherham, Jill Challinor (both from The Old Courts), Elizabeth Costello (from film festival) and Dave Jenkins (from the Old Courts)
Members of Wigan and Leigh Short Film Festival, are delighted to host the event at The Old Courts, Wigan, from left, Paul Costello, Rob Tongeman (both from film festival), Jess Rotherham, Jill Challinor (both from The Old Courts), Elizabeth Costello (from film festival) and Dave Jenkins (from the Old Courts)

The borough’s biggest celebration of cinema is taking the step into a bold new era after changing venue and expanding the programme.

The newly-renamed Wigan and Leigh Short Film Festival will bring a whole weekend of up-and-coming cinematic talent to the town centre later this year.

The event has previously been based at the Turnpike Centre in Leigh but has made the trip across the borough to its new surroundings at The Old Courts.

Organisers say this will allow them to expand considerably, with a whole night dedicated to North West film-making on the Friday night 24 hours before the main event showcases short movies from across the country and further afield.

Wigan and Leigh Short Film Festival development director Elizabeth Costello said: “Due to venue availability we will be holding the 2019 festival at The Old Courts.

“This has given us the opportunity to develop and run more events. It’s going to be an exciting change.

“We’ve been working in Wigan on different projects now for at least 12 months so it doesn’t feel any different for us to have the main event there.

“We’re hoping the entire borough will get behind us and it may even be a good event to help bring Wigan and Leigh together.

“I think the future is very promising for film in the borough.”

The festival of film starts in late October with young directors from schools, colleges and universities gathering at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (Alra) North at Wigan Pier to see which short production will go through to the main event.

There will then be two nights of zero-budget film-making in November with the regional and main events, with the creation of a whole night for North West creators representing a long-held ambition for the organisers.

Elizabeth said: “We realised with the amount of North West films submitted in 2018 that we could have held an event for them on their own. This year we are able to do that.

“Showcasing and celebrating local talent is exactly why we started out with the film festival and having this special event for them is a dream come true.”

Submissions are now open with films of up to 15 minutes permitted for consideration.

The judging panel, which includes local actor Darren Jeffries, will then whittle the entries down to create the final line-ups.

The festival also has high-profile backing from its patrons, who include former Timelord Christopher Eccleston and Wigan’s star of Shameless Ben Batt.

In four years the event has very much made its mark on the national film calendar, with stars of Coronation Street among those who have successfully shown their short movies in the borough.

The event also supports charities and this year will be no exception with collection buckets in the venue on the nights.

In addition the festival will once again be working with students from Edge Hill University and Wigan and Leigh College who will gain valuable media work experience.

To find out more visit www.wiganleighfilmfestival.org.uk