Wigan and Leigh Short Film Festival: Hometown triumphs at borough's celebration of cinema

Wigan and Leigh Short Film Festival has recognised a number of hometown pieces of work at this year’s event.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 11:19 am
Updated Monday, 22nd November 2021, 11:20 am
Host Darren Jeffries and patron Sacha Parkinson on stage

The eighth edition of the borough’s biggest celebration of cinema returned for an in person event at a close to capacity Turnpike, following last year’s virtual meeting.

A team of volunteers were present on the night, and were helped out by TV and film students from Edge Hill University.

Wigan and Leigh Short Film Festival chairman Paul Costello said: “Following another successful short Film Festival, and our eighth year in total, I think we can safely say we have created a borough-wide film festival that delivers not only entertainment but actual support for students and young film-makers.

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The eighth Wigan and Leigh Film Festival took place at The Turnpike Centre in Leigh

“At the centre of what we do as volunteers is bringing the best in short films from around the world and eight years on we are continuing to go from strength to strength.

“Thank you to the amazing support of Edge Hill University, Owen Evans and Darren Jeffries and of course our audience.

“A special mention must go to the wonderful volunteer team as without their energy, kindness and passion for film events like this would not happen.”

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Joy France with festival development director Elizabeth Costello

Joy Uncensored, made by Northern Heart Films who are based at the Old Courts, scooped the Audience’s Choice vote.

Directed by Natasha Hawthornthwaite and produced by Scott Bradley, the documentary follows slam poet Joy France as she seeks to overturn a few ideas about older people and women by entering the confrontational rap battle King of the Ronalds.

The Covid-19 pandemic also made its presence known at the festival, as lockdown comic drama The Man at the Bottom of the Garden claimed the North West prize.

It also made it a double hometown triumph, with filmmaker Paul Blinkhorn coming from Atherton.

Meanwhile, Save Ralph, a film about the testing of products on animals, won the Animation category, while the best young filmmaker was Jovi Kerr for Fortune, which was a clever homage to the era of silent cinema.

In total 14 films were screened on the night, ranging from hilarious comedy to thought-provoking drama to hard-hitting emotional productions on serious issues to horror.

The event was hosted by actor Darren Jeffries, while former Coronation Street star and festival patron Sacha Parkinson joined him on stage to hand out the awards.

Mr Jeffries said: “Once again the team gave us an event to remember, with filmmaking talent from across the UK and particularly the North-West on screen for all to see. And all in front of a real live audience! I loved it.”

After a last-minute change of venue from Leigh Spinners Mill, there was a sense of relief that the film community could once again come together after more than 18 months.

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