Monthly Archives: March 2013

Rounding up the St Albans Film Festival

A fortnight on and all the film editing  blog proof-reading and inputting videos to posts on this blog has been completed. I’ve done a little re-vamp of the blog to keep it relevant over the next year, while Leoni will be blogging from now until the next year’s festival.

Video: with thanks to Christopher Thomson for his editting skills ( and Alton Wahlberg for the original song (

I suppose that just leaves me to sign off from this blog and from the St Albans Film Festival 2013. The festival was an amazing experience, and one which I was honoured to have been able to have been a part of in its debuting year.

During the weekend of the festival, I stayed with a local family and on the second morning we discussed the surrealism cinema event at the  Clock Tower and spoke of the idea of immersive cinema. Peter Trevelyn pointed out to me that if one understands the expression of ‘immersive cinema’ as being an experience of a film outside of a conventional movie theatre, the entire St Albans Film Festival was an immersive cinema experience. Leoni actually did it – a film festival, in a city with no cinema!

Being able to engage with make-up artists, stunt men, directors and choreographers meant that film lovers could enjoy the festival for so many different reasons and on so many different levels. My only regret of the weekend is that there was so many interesting things going on at once, and this meant visitors could not experience everything the festival had to offer in its entirety. Maybe next year if could be spread out over a week, instead of a weekend? 🙂

The St Albans Film Festival is already taking submissions for next year’s film competition -details of which (and submission forms) can be found here:



Guest Blogger

University of Hertfordshire a proud sponsor of the first St Albans Film Festival

By Ayaz Ahmed Siddiqui

Opening Credits Before a Screening – Photo Courtesy Maria Navarro

Opening Credits Before a Screening – Photo Courtesy Maria Navarro

The University of Hertfordshire was a proud sponsor of the first ever St Albans film festival that took place last weekend. The festival was marked by film competitions, screenings, workshops, parties and fun filled entertainment which lasted for three days between 8th to 10th March.

The events were spread across the city and took place around cultural hotspots such as the The Maltings Art Theater, Verulamium Museum, The Clocktower, The Abbey Theater, St Albans School, Museum of St Albans and many more.

Leoni Kibbey an actress, casting director and the festival director said: “I wanted to create something in St Albans, it needed a bit of injection of creativity and life. There is so much filming heritage here.” The city of St Albans is the birth place of the critically acclaimed film maker Stanley Kubrick and has a tremendous film making legacy.

It was not surprising then that the late film legend was honoured with an event dedicated to him titled Stanley Kubrick – A life in Pictures. Among the notable people in attendance were Jan Harlan, one of Kubrick’s producers on Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut.

Students from the University Of Hertfordshire School Of Humanities took active part in the media coverage of the events and worked fulltime to capture every single aspect of the festivities.
For the residents of St Albans it was a particularly exciting affair. Events such as the sold out over 18 film screening and the surreal exhibit at the Clock Tower were very popular.

The Surreal Performers at The Clocktower – Photo Courtesy of Maria Navarro

The Surreal Performers at The Clocktower – Photo Courtesy of Maria Navarro

According to one local volunteer Debra Gaius the reason for such popularity of the events was that they were family oriented and provided people without a film background to get involved.

Regarding the future of the festival Leoni says that the proximity to London, good transport links to places all over United Kingdom and a city teeming with film makers are just the right ingredients for this festival to flourish.

For a complete coverage of the events, pictures and much more please visit:

Vinyl: Film Review

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this page are my own (Kate Snowdon’s) and not those of the St Albans Film Festival as a whole.

Vinyl Premiere

Vinyl Screening

The main film of the St Albans Film Festival this year was the pre-release screening of Vinyl. Vinyl was screened in The Maltings Arts Theatre on Friday 8th, ahead of its UK cinema release date.

As it was the first film screening of the first ever St Albans Film Festival there was a real buzz in the room as Festival Director Leoni Kibbey entered the room to introduce Vinyl, in place of director Sara Sugarman who sadly could not attend the event.

“Thanks to all who have come here… It’s much better than being at work on a Friday afternoon,” Leoni said.

Vinyl, which is set in Wales, stars Phil Daniels as a washed-up ageing punk singer and guitarist, Johnny Jones. The film opens with the former front man of ‘Weapons of Happiness’, Johnny, buying drugs from a child and walking across a farm to smoke a homemade bong with a granny, next to a cow (yes, you read that right). It’s not exactly the opening I imagined, but it set the comedic tone of the film well.

Sugarman manages to deliver a serious, reflective message throughout the film, based loosely on the real life events of Mike Peter’s rock and roll hoax of 2004; it undermines the attitudes and rationalisations of today’s music industry.

Johnny Jones reunites with his band accidentally after 20 years when they find themselves at a mutual friend’s funeral. The three other band mates; Minto, Griff and Robbie have all taken different, conventional paths in life – unlike Johnny, who has never really managed to let go of his punk rocker dream.

Sugarman has a brilliant way of making you want to laugh at (perhaps) inappropriate times.The first laugh out loud moment came from an ironic comment at said funeral, and this kind of dry, ironic humour is present throughout the film.

The story really gets going when the accidentally re-formed band drunkenly record a song, which turns out to be good enough quality to be released as a single. Johnny pushes to try and get the song recognised by record labels and music producers to little avail, and so the idea of employing a group of young, good looking, teenagers to mime the songs on stage is formed. The fact that the film is based on a true music hoax adds a lot more depth to the film.

I find Johnny’s character, with his mid-life crisis coats and plastic sunglasses, a brilliantly developed character with attentions to detail spot on (such as his constantly carrying around a plastic bag – to the point where he still has it in his hands when he’s fighting). I did, however, miss the developments of his relationship with his wife, Jules: the audience witness some of their problems and struggles but the resolutions feel a little rushed.

The most developed and touching relationship of the film is that between Johnny and his hoax band’s front man (and the only one who can actually sing), Joel ‘Drainpipe’ Richards (played by up and coming star Jamie Blackley). From the regular arguments and raking over the past that we see from the Weapons of Happiness (again, these particular relationships feel a little under-developed) we quickly learn that the reason for the band splitting 20 years ago were largely due to the fact that Johnny’s father died and he received little support from his band mates. This goes a long way in explaining the fatherly moments that ensue between Johnny and Drainpipe throughout the movie.

Essentially, however, this is not a Rom Com – it’s a music film. The plot is based around music, not relationships; A music genre; the way that record companies don’t want to sign anyone over the age of 30 (as it’s “like watching your parents having sex”); the way that a music career can affect relationships. Despite being so heavily about music, I was a little disappointed that the soundtrack consisted of, mostly, one song. By the end credits, I was absolutely sick of the words “Free Rock and Roll”.

Although it was a low budget film, it didn’t notice too much. It worked; it had a charm about it (although the hand-held camera made it a little difficult to watch at times) and despite having no attachment to a major studio, Sara Sugarman did the story justice.

Kate Rates: 3.5 ***’s

Festival Winners and Closing Party.

Havana club, 7.30pm – This is it! Time to find out the winners of the festival! The grand closing ceremony was an over 18s red carpet event, with welcome drinks on arrival. The room was decorated beautifully and there was a buffet spread provided by Buongiorno Italia.

Winners and Awards


Films for Kids (made by a Professional)
Judges special mention: SKETCH – The Walker Twins
Winner: BAGGAGE – Dir. Peter Butler

Music Video
Judges special mention: FELDSPAR – “THE FLAT & PAPER SKY” – Dir. Craig Heathcote

Judges special mention: SKIN – Dir. Janina Vilsmaier
Winner: THE GUEST – Dir. Kira De Hemmer Jeppeson

Student Film
Judges special mention: DAWID AND DOMINIK Dir. Andrew Salamonczyk
Winner: ROCKET BOYS –Dir. James Button

Judges special mention: PHONE SEX GRANDMA – Dir. Jack Truman

Main short film
Judges special mention: GRACIOUS AWAKENINGS – Dir Ben Jacobs, starring James Callas Ball, St Albans
Winner: TIME 2 SPLIT – Dir. Fabrice Bracq

Best Actor:
Judges special mention: Darren Kent – Sunny Boy (Main short)
Winner: Kerensa York – Lines in the Sand (Main Short)


Best mini student film:
A DOG – Oscar Simmons, Shenley, Herts

Best performance by an actor or actress:
Emily Horton-Harpin, St Albans
LOVE LETTER – Written, Produced, Directed, Edited and Performed by Emily Horton-Harpin

Best Class entry:
TRUTH OR DARE – Lydate J&I School, Kirklees, West Yorkshire

Golden Nugget award:
KILPATRICK SNOWMAN – Kilpatrick Primary School, a special needs school in West Dunbartonshire

Made in St Albans film award:
THE DETECTIVE – Jack and Ashley Campbell, Age 14, St Albans


We are delighted to announce selected films listed below will be screened at the festival. Winners in each category will be announced at the awards ceremony on the Sunday evening 10th March.

MAIN SHORT FILMS – Sponsored by Blanco

  • LITTLE ANGEL – Dir. Darren S Cook
  • THE FLYING LESSON – Dir Phil Hawkins
  • SUNNY BOY  – Dir. Jane Gull
  • LINES IN THE SAND – Dir. Michael Gilroy
  • THE PLAYERS  – Dir Benjamin Garfield
  • MEMORY SCULPTOR – Dir. Ken Ochiai
  • TIME 2 SPLIT – Dir. Fabrice Bracq
  • HOLDING ON – Dir. Jo Southwell
  • THE SEARCH FOR INSPIRATION GONE – Dir. Ashley Michael Briggs
  • PADDED CELL – Dir. Andrew Martin
  • ID – Daniel Gentely
  • THE BEST MEDICINE – Dir.Dan Smith.

DOCUMENTARIES – sponsored by XLN Telecommunications

  • 1915 – Dir. Tom Graffin
  • CAKE CREATION  – Dir. Michelle Becker
  • THE GUEST – Dir. Kira De Hemmer Jeppeson
  • GRANDPA & ME & A HELICOPTER TO HEAVEN – Dir. Johan Palmgren
  • SKIN – Dir. Janina Vilsmaier
  • PETER & BEN – Dir. Pinny Grylls
  • MY KOSHER SHIFTS – Dir. Iris Zaki
  • LAMPWORT – Dir. Alex Parkyn-Smith
  • NEWTON FAULKNER – Dir. Ben Roper
  • PARKOUR IN ST ALBANS – Dir. Ben Roper


  • VACUUM ATTRACTION – Dir. Morgan Miller
  • THE DOMESTIC – Dir. Mike Tack
  • PHONE SEX GRANDMA – Dir. Jack Truman
  • TWO PERSONS MAX – Dir. Tim Kent
  • WASTE DISPOSAL – Dir. Katherine King
  • SMILE – Dir. The Bashford Twins
  • SAW MISGIVINGS – Dir. David Lilley


  • POPSY – Dir. John Lerchen
  • BIKE SHED – Dir. Edward White
  • FIGURE #1 Dir. Chus F. Sarrión
  • MOMENTUM – Dir. Boris Seewald
  • DAWID AND DOMINIK Dir. Andrew Salamonczyk
  • ORPHEUS – Dir. James Button
  • TUMBLING AFTER – Dir. Nicholas Humphries
  • ROCKET BOYS –Dir. James Button
  • IL TOUR DE DAVIDE – Dir. Nicola Sersale
  • TRUE REPOSE – Dir. Oscar Garth
  • IN MY SHED – Dir. Agathe Dalisson
  • A SHORT FILM ABOUT KLEZMER – Dir. Janie Armour


  • THE ZEN HUSSIES “ANGELINA TOUT” – Dir. Sarah Mallabar
  • FELDSPAR – “THE FLAT & PAPER SKY” – Dir. Craig Heathcote
  • DARIA KULESH “TOM TOM” – Prod. Daria Kulesh
  • COLUMBIA “ON THE RUN” – Dir Chris Dundon.
  • LOUISE PETIT BAND “DEMONS” – Dir. Mark Wooldridge
  • 8:58 “ACROSS THE UNIVERSE” – Dir. Chunky Nelson
  • ZERO T “ROXY MUSIC” – Dir. Andrew Clunie
  • MAKSIM – THE GODFATHER – Dir. Ben Roper


  • HIGH ABOVE THE SKY – Dir Kim Noce & Shaun Clark.
  • HOMEY – Dir. Benjamin Garfield
  • SPROCKETT – Dir. Hazel Meeks
  • ROW ROW ROW YOUR BOAT – Dir. Derek Holder
  • BAGGAGE – Dir. Peter Butler
  • SKETCH – Dir. The Walker Sisters
  • LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE – Prod. John Ryan.
  • A SHADOW OF BLUE – Dir. Carlos Lascano
  • FORGET ME NOT – Dir Kim Noce & Shaun Clark.


  • Darren Kent – Sunny Boy (Main short)
  • Flora Brunier Time to Split – (Main Short)
  • Kerensa York – Lines in the Sand (Main Short)
  • DenDen – Memory Sculptor (Main Short)
  • Opal Dockery – Phone Sex Grandma (Over 18)
  • Billie Vee – Two Persons Max (Over 18)
  • Patrick Hanna – Momentum (Student)
  • Jake Talbot – Rocket Boys (Student)
  • Ethan smith – Rocket Boys (Student)
  • Edoardo Natoli – Il Tour De Davide (Student)


  • HEDGEROW TALES – Buchlyvie Primary School, Stirlingshire.
  • FUEL THE FIRE – Sandaigh Primary School, Glasgow.
  • A DOG – Oscar Simmons, Shenley, Herts.
  • PIRATES OF THE INDIAN OCEAN – Northampton Bangladeshi Association Youth Club & Wind and Foster, Northampton.
  • DREAM BOY –   Young people from The Switch Project and filmmakers My Pockets.
  • VIKINGS – Lydate J&I School, Kirklees, West Yorkshire
  • TRUTH OR DARE – Lydate J&I School, Kirklees, West Yorkshire
  • FOX HUNTING – St Vincents Primary School, Mill Hill.
  • LOVE LETTER  – Written, Produced, Directed, Edited  and Performed by Emily Horton-Harpin, St Albans.
  • ANTI-BULLYING – Beauchamps High School.
  • THE VILLAGE IDIOT – Beauchamps High School.
  • KILPATRICK SNOWMAN – Kilpatrick Primary School, a special needs school in West Dunbartonshire
  • CTRL-Z – The Hills Lower School, Bedford.
  • STRICTLY KITCHEN DISCO – Johanna, Mandeville Primary School, St Albans.
  • GHOSTS IN THE WILD – Louis Holding, Surbiton, Surrey.
  • 10 THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU ARE BORED – William and Salim, St Albans.


  • THE DETECTIVE – Jack Campbell, Age 14, St Albans.
  • A DREAM & A WISH – Iorwen Ellis, Age 8, St Albans
  • THE WEDDING – Tatiana – Mandeville, St Albans
  • THROUGH THE CHRISTMAS PORTAL – Laura. Martha, Nala Ages 8 & filmed by Will age 12, St Albans
  • A SPARK – Oscar Simmons, Age 12.
  • STOCKWOOD PARK MUSEUM –Reception Class, St Peters School, St Albans.
  • EDOARDO – THE HORRIBLEST BOY IN THE WORLD –  YEAR 3 St Peters School, St Albans.
  • THE PIANO – YEAR 5 St Peters School, St Albans.
  • THE ESCAPE (Legoman) – Benjamin, Mandeville Primary School, St Albans.
  • PICNIC ON THE HILL – Ages 7 – 10 Fleetville Junior school, St Albans.
  • MEMORY OF JUSTICE  – Oakwood Primary School, St Albans.
  • THE MURDERER – Jack Cate,Age 9 St Albans
  • SHOES & BIN – Fred Cobb, Age 8, St Albans.
  • SOMETHING – Rupert Williams, Age 9, St Albans
  • FOOTSTEPS FOR THE FUTURE – St Alban & St Stephen Junior School.

All films above are suitable for Children age 5 + There are two super films who made our shortlist but are not suitable for Primary School age so we will have a special  screening them with restricted access for age 11+ during the day on 9th March.

  • CLOSED EXITS – Rupert Rixon, St Albans
  • DEAD MAN WALKING – Jack Gentle Age 14.

After the awards came one of the most touching moments of the night, when Leoni’s family joined her on stage to pay tribute to her hardwork in organising the festival. Given that it was also Mothers Day, having her children join her on stage made the moment all the more poignant .

AFter the awards and thank yous were over, it was time to get on with enjoying the good food and good drink! The night even ended with the St Albans Film Festival Harlem Shake…

My unsung heroes of the weekend

As I write this, my last post before the closing party (please see my previous post for the list of content still to come though) I realise I have some thank yous to say, to the people that kept me sane this weekend…

The Starbucks team, who were lovely to me and leech off their wifi (my favour #missionwifi suggestion was "make them famous and try get free coffee. No free coffee I'm afraid, but they are awesome!

The Starbucks team, who were lovely to me and let me leech off their wifi (my favourite #missionwifi suggestion was “make them famous and try to get free coffee.” No free coffee I’m afraid, but they are awesome!

Student film leader Abu. For his motivational speeches

Student film leader Abu. For his motivational speeches

The University of Hertfordshire Students that filmed the event, who were there at every event I went to!

The University of Hertfordshire Students that filmed the event, who were there at every event I went to!

...Even when times got hard!

…Even when times got hard!

Herts Student Blogging Network for the support and extra publicity.

Herts Student Blogging Network for the support and extra publicity.

The Trevelyan family for letting me stay - their son Julian has a piano recital in St Albans this month

The Trevelyan family for letting me stay – their son Julian has a piano recital in St Albans this month.

An Afternoon Celebrating Stanley Kubrick at The Maltings

I spent the afternoon at The Maltings Art Theatre celebrating the life and films of Stanley Kubrick. The two screenings at this location for the afternoon were Staircases to Nowhere and Stanley Kubrick – A Life in Pictures.

The documentary, Staircases to Nowhere is a series of interviews and previously unheard stories from behind the scenes of Stanley Kubrick’s Tehe Shining (based on the novel by Stephen King) collected as part of ‘The Elstree Project’. The Elstree Project is a collaboration between Elstree Screen Heritage and the University of Hertfordshire. It is hoped that to celebrate the centenary of Elstree Studios, the Elstree Project will have collected 50 interviews in total.

Director (and University of Hertfordshire lecturer) Howard Berry introducing A Staircase to Nowhere

Director (and University of Hertfordshire lecturer) Howard Berry introducing A Staircase to Nowhere

Howard Berry, who directed the Staircases to Nowhere film, introduced not only the documentary, but also explained a bit more about the Elstree Project itself (see He spoke of how there is often misconceptions about the nearby ‘Elstree Studios’, where huge films such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones were filmed. Elstree Studios actually refers to a collective of six studios, most of which are no longer in existence . Eastenders and Holby City are filmed at a remaining Elstree Studio.

Julian Senior talks about cutting the end of The Shining post-screening

Julian Senior talks about cutting the end of The Shining post-opening

Staircases to Nowhere gets its name from a quote from Julian Senior who disagreed with Kubrick over the ending. In one of the interviews Julian explains that at first he didn’t get the end of the film and didn’t know “if Jack frozen in the snow was a great ending”. It was only after a while that he realised that it’s the hotel that is alive (I kind of remember having this same issue with the end of the film myself when I first watched it, quite a few years ago) and found somethere eerie about the set and its staircase to nowhere. Julian also speaks of having to make phonecalls at 5am and sending someone to the theatre to cut the film reel (post-screening) when Kubrick infamously decided to change the ending (shortening it by 2 minutes) after the film had been release to the cinema.

I found the documentary’s details about the technical side of creating The Shining particularly interesting.  Hearing Kubrick described as a “frustrated technician” helps to piece together the story of the way that a new type of camera, mounted on a trolley, was able to film the boy’s tricycle continuously round the set.

Staircases to Nowhere is available to watch in full here:

The closing film of the festival, Stanley Kubrick – A Life in Pictures, ran back-to-back against the Elstree Project documentary, looking at his life and career as a whole. The film was directed by Jan Harlan, Christiane’s brother and one of Kubrick’s producers on Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut.

A snapshot from the closing film

A snapshot from the closing film

Speaking about the significance of the St Albans Film Festival, Jan says: “This lovely city of St Albans is anaemic when it comes to film culture – and this is the city where Stanley Kubrick lived for 20 years. I applaud the efforts of Leoni and her team of organisers and will certainly take full advantage of the rich offering.”

I was surprised to hear that in the beginning of his career, Kubrick lived off of 30 dollars a week unemployment cheque. There was a brilliant moment in the film where an actress speaks of working with Stanley and, after he continually gave her lifts home, she once asked him: “why are you always so nice to people?” He answered: “honey, the only person who is going get anything out of this movie is me”.

Tom Cruise narrates the journey of Kubrick’s career, looking at pictures, film clips and comments from his c0lleagues, including an interview with his producer partner, James B. Harris. Kubrick is, at one point, described as “smart, and incredible chess player, with not much education.”

a Harris-Kubrick film

a Harris-Kubrick film

It was good to have such a strong focus on Stanley Kubrick to close the film festival events, not least because of the local element, but it also rounded up the festival activities nicely, after the way that Christiane Kubrick, the wife of the late, iconic filmmaker had officially launched the festival. It brought the whole event full circle.

Christiane Kubrick, opening the festival

Christiane Kubrick, opening the festival

Christiane said, at opening party in the city centre, that Kubrick foresaw the way the Internet would change filmmaking and viewing.

“He knew it would all change and that people would make and view films in a completely different way,” she said. “You have to ‘find the film’ nowadays, and that’s why these festivals are such a good thing for filmmakers.”Leoni Kibbey, Film Festival Director said: “I [was] thrilled to be welcoming Christiane Kubrick to open our festival, especially on International Woman’s Day. The Kubrick name is legendary in the world of film, and to have the family’s support of this Festival is amazing.”

Stanley and Christiane got married in 1958 after they met on the set of the Paths of Glory, which Stanley directed. They moved to England in the early 1960s finally settling in Childwickbury Manor, just outside St Albans.

Christiane trained as an actress before pursuing a career in painting, going on to become an highly accomplished artist. Her work was featured in two of Stanley Kubrick films, A Clockwork Orange and Eyes Wide Shut.

Stanley created some of his most famous work in the St Albans area. His house, Childwickbury Manor, was used as a nerve centre for his film productions: The Shining was finished there, and Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut were started and completed there.

Student Film Competition Finalists

The Pioneer Club

The Pioneer Club

Next on my agenda was the Student Film Competition Finalists’ screening at The Pioneer Club. Judging by my map, it was a long way out, so I set off early to make sure I’d get there on time. As it happened, I was a few minutes early and caught the end of the Online Video Success seminar, which was a surprisingly interactive and personal session, from the looks of it.

Online Video Success

Online Video Success

The Pioneer was a cool venue with a big screen on a stage and plenty of seating for the screenings. I didn’t get to watch all of the films, but the ones I did see were pleasantly surprising: this category is just as talented and creative as any other – and sometimes even more professional-looking (perhaps students have more to prove).

Screenings at the Pioneer

Screenings at the Pioneer

Well done to all the entrants in this category, the level of work was outstanding and had me cringing, laughing or down right creeped out in all the right places. Awesome job!

A full list of student finalists

A full list of student finalists