Curtain rises on virtual celebration of cinema

It is a case of 'the show must go online' for the Wigan and Leigh Film Festival.

Monday, 5th October 2020, 11:18 am
Updated Monday, 5th October 2020, 11:21 am
A previous film festival at The Turnpike Centre in Leigh

The event kicked off at the weekend after the team of volunteer cinema enthusiasts behind it was determined to ensure that the coronavirus pandemic scuppering any public screenings would not mean this year’s event being canned entirely.

Instead movie fans can buy an online ticket which gives them access to a website where all the films which have been chosen can be found.

The festival is made up of three consecutive weekends of short zero-budget movies, with the initial event last weekend for young film-makers, the second for North West talent and the third and final one the general event with films submitted from across the country and further afield.

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Wigan and Leigh Film Festival chair Paul Costello said: “This year we had planned to showcase four events, two in Wigan at The Fire Within and ALRA (North) and two in Leigh at the iconic Spinners’ Mill.

“In March Covid-19 arrived and the volunteer festival team had to discover a new way to reach our audiences. It was decided to hold the festival in a new virtual exhibition sphere.

“I’m immensely proud of the festival volunteer team who every year overcome new challenges and bring the best in short films to our borough.”

In total 46 films are being screened over the three weekends, with everything from gritty dramas to animations and horror and pieces covering topics including environmental damage and mental health.

The festival team had hoped to put on an event dedicated solely to animation but this has now been combined with the main event.

Unfortunately the virtual set-up means that, unlike in previous years, the overall winner of the festival will not be selected through an Audience Choice vote.

Mr Costello praised the festival’s technical director Rob Tongeman for taking on the enormous effort of transferring an entire film festival comprised of multiple events online.

The Wigan and Leigh Film Festival is now under way. The North West event is from Friday to Sunday October 9 to 11 and the main event runs from Friday to Sunday October 16 to 18. Online tickets are £5.

To find out more, visit