Top Family Picks at the St Albans Film Festival 2014

Since the programme for the Film Festival is totally jam-packed with awesomeness… we thought we would give you a helping hand and break down the weekend into the top picks for you and your little ones to enjoy. Our full schedule can be found here if you would like to browse the entire programme, otherwise read on for our tips for an awesome May Bank Holiday. 

For Families  

It can be hard to know what to do to keep the little ones entertained over a bank holiday weekend, without being bored yourselves, the Film Festival is a great mix of child friendly and entertaining for the adults!

On Friday between 10am and 12pm we have a Parent & Child Screening of ‘Mamma Mia’. You come along with your little ones and Singalong, chat along or just relax and have a brilliant morning. Tickets also include Greek treats (served from 9:30am) and tea and coffee, is there a better way to spend your Friday morning?

Saturday is full to bursting with kid friendly events. It kicks off with ‘The King and The Mockingbird’ at 10am. It’s widely considered one of the best animated features of all time for both little ones and grown ups. Tasty treats are provided by My Mustard, who are sponsoring this film too.


The first of our free events takes place on Saturday ‘Birds of Bray’ takes place from 11am – 3pm and features a whole host of birds that you wouldn’t normally get the chance to see up close and luckily they’re not camera shy so you’ll be able to take lots of pictures to reminisce.

We also have a ‘How to Fight Like a Superhero Workshop’ running between 10am and 12pm, for ages 7+ (under 12’s must be accompanied by a parent) you’ll be the coolest parents around once the kids can suitably impersonate Batman.

Our ‘Harry Potter Costume Characterisation’ event is going to be unmissable for any Potter fan. You’ll have the chance to look at the original mood boards and costumes from the Harry Potter films. The event is open to all ages but is geared towards an aged 7-12 audience. However there are plenty of adults (me) who are equally as excited to get up close and personal with the original costumes from the films.

At 1:30pm on Saturday we have ‘3D Prehistoric Birds – ‘Alive’ at the Natural History Museum’. There are exclusive clips from the series and a Q&A with St Albans based director Dan Smith and producer Mike Davis. It’s not only great for kids but for adults too, judging by the overwhelming success of the programme aired on Sky earlier this year.


The Children’s Short Film Competition will also be taking place between 4:30 and 7pm on Saturday evening.

On Sunday there are two more free events taking place, the ‘Red Arrow Falcons – Parachute Display Team’ will be performing from 11am in front of Westminster Lodge and following on immediately from that performance is a display by Skyvue Media at 11:30am who will be showcasing the gadgets used to create the amazing aerial shots we’re all used to seeing on the big screen.

Finally, at 10am or 12pm there will be a ‘Playing With Shakespeare’ event which gives 3 to 5 year olds their first taste of Shakespeare in this interactive workshop based on ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.

There’s so much for grown ups too – so book your babysitter, watch quality films and come party, the city will be buzzing!

By Lauren Smith, Official Festival Blogger. 


Sarah Cooper is a freelance film journalist and Contributing Editor at Screen International Magazine. She is sitting on the jury for the festival’s main short film competition.Image

When we moved to St Albans from North London back in November, I’ll admit that while I was looking forward to a bit less hustle and bustle, as a film journalist and mum to a 19 month old baby, I was worried that my life was about to become both a cinema and buzz free zone.

Five months later, as I’m working my way through the truly inspiring selection of short films that have been selected for the main competition of the St Albans Film Festival, whilst anticipating the opening of the city’s cool new arthouse cinema The Odyssey, I realise I needn’t have worried.

St Albans can do cinema and buzz with the best of them.

From its opening night screening of Hitchcock’s masterpiece The Birds in the city’s beautiful cathedral to its various topical panel discussions, this year’s St Albans Film Festival programme is bold, quirky and relevant.

In an industry still sadly dominated by male directors, studio executives and storylines, it is refreshing to discover a festival prepared to embrace “birds” in both senses. As well as a panel discussion on the role of women in film and media, this year sees the introduction of an award for the best short film which passes the Bechdel Test, a set of criteria which establishes how gender biased a film is. That’s something you won’t see at traditional festivals like Cannes and Berlin, not least because they know how few films would actually pass the test.

Ok, so it’s unlikely that Shiah LaBeouf will turn up to the festival’s screening of Nymphomaniac complete with paper bag on his head. But then the Berlin Film Festival didn’t have a special screening of Jaws taking place in a swimming pool, or a “how to fight like a superhero” workshop.


This is certainly a festival that knows how to have fun, and with over 500 entries from 35 different countries across its various competition sections, it is also a festival literally bursting with talent.

And given that the event is still young –this is the second year – it seems entirely appropriate that it should be nurturing young filmmaking talent too, through its Childrens’ Short Film Section, which will feature films made by children aged from 5-15 years old, many of whom are from St Albans. Who knows, we might have the next Steve McQueen right here on our doorstep.

As for me, I will try and get to as many events as having a toddler will allow. And if all else fails, I’ve always got the festival’s mother and baby screening of Mamma Mia.


For a good cause!

I promised to bring you guys updates on the goings on at St Albans Film Festival HQ and I’m here to deliver! As if she wasn’t busy enough putting together the amazing festival programme, Leoni our festival director is also going to be running the London Marathon this year for the charity Shelter! Of course we’re going to be cheering her on but she’d love your support too so read the article below to see how you can help out and what your support means for the festival! 


‘Festival Director runs for Shelter

…and not just from the relentless weather we’ve had this term. While we might all have been grateful recently to run for the shelter of our own homes, there are thousands of homeless people around the UK – and even here in ‘comfortable’ St Albans – who simply don’t have that option.

That’s where housing and homeless charity Shelter comes in. People become homeless for all sorts of reasons and sometimes even those with a home need help. Shelter reminds us that home isn’t just a roof over your head. It’s a place that provides security, privacy, and links to a community and support. Shelter is not going to stop its tireless work until everybody in the UK has access to this.

Our own Festival Director, Leoni Kibbey, won’t stop either! She is raising money for Shelter by running this year’s London Marathon on Sunday 13th April. In spite of the fact that this is her first marathon, she’s aiming to complete it in under four hours. And, incredibly, it’s all taking place just a few weeks before the second annual St Albans Film Festival, of which Leoni is the director, driving force, instigator and brains. As you might imagine, this has been keeping her pretty busy, which is why she needs your support! 

All next week Leoni will be wearing her Shelter running top around the city as she is dashing around putting plans in place for the next film festival, so if you see her, please do make a donation if you can. She’ll have a bucket with her, or you can give online via the Just Giving website:

As a thank you for your support Leoni is promising to provide some free events at the Festival – including a fantastic demonstration from the RAF Falcons – Red Arrows Parachute Display Team who will be dropping into Verulamium Park on Sunday 4th May. 

Through her work in the film industry and as St Albans Film Festival Director Leoni will be starting at the Celebrity Start at the marathon on 13th April so look out for her on the telly-box as she runs 26.2 miles for SHELTER!’


The 2014 programme is here!

Hi, I’m Lauren, I’m about to be a University of Hertfordshire Event Management graduate, which is equal parts terrifying and exciting.  I’m ecstatic to announce that I am this year’s official St Albans Film Festival blogger. Kate did a great job last year and I promise to keep you informed of all the activities going on around the festival as well as all the busy goings-on at festival HQ this year! With just ONE MONTH left till the festival weekend is upon us lets take a look what’s in store. Drum roll, please..

The festival will kick off with a screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds on Thursday evening. Is there a better way to start our 2nd annual Film Festival than with Alfred Hitchcock?

On Friday there are two all day workshops to choose between, the first is ‘Pitching & Developing Ideas’ with Sion Hughes from Rights TV. Last year this workshop was a complete sell out and this year is expected to be no different, so make sure you secure you place early if you want to attend!

Our second all day workshop is ‘The Art of Writing Screenplays’ with Robin Mukherjee. At the end of the day, certain screenplays will be performed by actors, so this workshop could be your chance to see your worked performed live! Your ticket cost covers a signed copy of Robin’s book and a free ticket to the evening ‘Birds, Books & Gin’ event at Waterstones, and yes not only do you get to see scripts performed live it also includes free Two Birds Gin and cake!

If an all-day commitment isn’t possible for you, there are plenty of other shorter events taking place over the weekend, some especially for families. The King & The Mockingbird screening on Saturday is one of our feature films; it’s an adaptation of one of Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tales and is quite frankly a masterpiece of French animation! You will not want to miss it and neither will your little ones.

If your hoping to entertain kids a little bit older on Saturday we also have a one hour Harry Potter ‘Costume Characterisation’ workshop for 7-12 year olds. A team from the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter will reveal how there is no costume without a character. They’re even planning to bring along the original mood boards and a selection of costumes from the Harry Potter film series.

We have a number of feature films spread out over the festival weekend. One of our feature films ‘Ricky’ is being screened on Friday, it’s a French language love story which is more than capable of brightening anyone’s day and finishes just in time for the school run!

Lars Von Triers ‘Nymphomaniac’ is probably one of the most controversial films on the festival circuit this year hence why it’s one of our feature films and both volumes are going to be screened on Friday. Leave the kids at home, but bring a friend because you’ll definitely want someone to discuss it with on the way home!

Let’s just admit it, we all secretly want to know what it’s like to be in a band. The Paddy Lincoln Gang, another of our feature films, gives you access to everything: the sex, drugs and the rock’n’roll. On Saturday you’ll have a chance to be a part of the UK Premier Cast & Crew Screening a month before its release date! Plus, you’ll get an exclusive performance from the band who will play live following the film & Q&A.  If that’s not value for money, what is?

Our closing feature film, screened on Sunday, is Muse of Fire follows two actors, Giles Terera and Dan Poole who directed and produced the film, that aims to demystify and illuminate Shakespeare’s work for everyone. There is a host of celebrities involved including Dame Judi Dench, Ewan McGregor, Sir Ian McKellan, Jude Law and Tom Hiddleston!

We have a whole host of panel events and workshops running throughout the festival, including ‘Alive’ at the Natural History Museum on Saturday with Director Dan Smith & Producer Mike Davis, who have just created an incredible 3D programme for Sky starring Sir David Attenborough. They even have some clips of the very first prehistoric bird!

There is also  ‘On Your Marks, Get Set, Ghibli’ also on Saturday, where you’ll get a chance to see rarely seen short Studio Ghibli films & listen to experts Colin Odell and Michelle Le Blanc who have written books on Studio Ghibli and Anime followed by a 1 hour Q&A.

We also have a panel discussion on Women in Film & Media and ‘The Bechdel Test’ on Friday evening. Where you can join a panel of filmmakers, listen to the debate and share your views on the future of women in the film industry. Even though it’s all about the girls, there is definitely a place for boys here too!

It’s great that the festival can appeal to everyone, but it also has significance for those future filmmakers out there. Last years short film programme was an undeniable success and this years looks set to beat it! We’ve had entries from 500 filmmakers from 35 countries all around the world. Not only will our shortlisted films be screened during the festival a lot of the film talent or directors will also be at the festival so you’ll have a chance to meet the stars of tomorrow and to pick their brains.



The shortlisted films and their categories are:


The programme of Main Shorts is in Two Parts: Beauty & Futility.


Twitcher Dir. Jane Gull

Dotty Dir. Ben Edwards

Dust & Waltz Dir. Darren Bransford

Valentine Dir. Kate Herron

All of Time Dir. Ben Roper

Balcony Dir. Lendita Zeqiraj

Woodwoo Dir Jonathan Blagrove

Forget Me Not Dir. Michael Beddoes


Looking for England Dir. Matt Jamie

Dekaos Dir. Olly Ginelli

The Daisy Chain Dir. Ken Williams


Tokko Shigan (Suicide Volunteers) Dir.Kenshow Onodera

Are you Albert? Dir. Dan Hodgson

Man In Fear Dir. Will Jewell

Gift From God Dir. Merlin Merton

Traces Dir. Anthony Sutcliffe

Rab Da Vaasta Dir. Chakravarty Devulapalli

The Baron Dir. Gareth Tunley

The Futility of War Dir. Sam Barron



Monomania Dir. Ben Vokes

Cold Turkey Dir. Thor Arnarsson

Satans Parish Dir. Mathew Radway

Three’s a Crowd Dir. Trevor Hardy

Insoma Dir. Dan Poole

Battlecock Dir. Ben Mallaby


Salient Dir. Oliver Guy-Watkins

Makeover Dir.Mike Tack

Night of the Loving Dead Dir. Anna Humphries



Sun Dir. Jesse D Lawrence

Grandpa & Me Dir. Johan Palmgren

Li Wei: Weightless Dir. George Sinfield

Ô Divin Bovin (Oh Holy Cow) Dir. Alexandre Rufin

A Game of Numbers Dir. Kris Hoffman

Invisible People Dir. Michelle Becker

The Lake Dir. Geoff Tompkinson

From Care to Where Dir. Geoff Searle

Secret Garden Dir. Michelle Becker



Mothers Song Dir. Linda McCarthy

Zweibettzimmer (Double Occupancy) Dir. Fabian Giessler


Angels & Ghosts Dir. Sara Kenney

Technical Hitch Dir. Joe Blaxland

Espero (Hope) Dir. Simone Giampaolo

Me, My Wife & Our Cow Dir. Azadeh Moezzi

Mum Can You Wipe My Bum Dir. Vicky Arlidge


            Upstairs Dir. Matthias Hoegg

Another Birth Dir. Siamak Takalloo

Little Boxes Dir. Jon Anderson

Isaac & Quincy Dir. Tea & Cheese



Dear Someone Dir. Tetsuo Kamata

Masheenee Alcketiara Dir. Ema Shah

The Man Who Was Forever Haunted By His Head Dir. Claudio Sichel

Come Back to Me Now Dir. Adam Heath

Vertigo Dir. Rita Tarin

Out of My Head Dir. Richard Allen

Peace & Quiet Dir. Daniel Bahrami-Jenkins

Just Another Day Dir. Ryan Goff

River Dee Dir. Caroline Oliver

Sweetlove Butterfly Dir. Daniel Gentely

Guilty Secrets Dir. Vicky Arlidge

Every Time I See You I Go Wild Dir Paul D.

That’s St Albans Dir. Michael Dias

Big In L.A. Dir. Norman Cambridge

Shmelvis Style Dir. Michael Dias




Z Dir. Spyros Kopanitsos

Timothy Dir. Marc Martinez Jordan

Keepsake Dir. Callum Oakaby Wright

Uoldisnei Dir. Andrea Della Monica

Miles to Go Dir. Emily Coupland

Flip Dir. Rupert Rixon

Girl in Red Dir. Aaron Dunleavy



An Undertaking

Perseverance Beyond Doubt Dir. Jonathan Brough

To The New Ukraine Dir. Chris Cunningham



How Winnie Got Her False Teeth Dir. Nat Urwin

Just Like You Dir. Isabel Garrett

Cells Happen Dir. Shelley Nichols

Orpheus Dir. Jennifer Haugen

Wombmates Dir. J D Dean

Manhood Dir. John Goodhead

Aloha Oi Dir. Remus Buznea

Karolina Dir. Naomi Cant


The entire festival is filled to the brim with exciting interesting content that brings the film industry to everyone, whether you’re a child, a film student or just an avid filmgoer. Whatever event you choose to attend, you will not be disappointed!


To book tickets find us on Eventbrite:

And for any other info check out the website:

Hope to see you all at the festival!


And leave us a comment to let us know what your most excited about! Hearing you guys get excited about the festival makes our day.

 Lauren 🙂





Introducing the St Albans Film Festival 2014 Character

Last year’s film festival became instantly recognisable on posters, t-shirts and online, thanks to its purple branding and Droog character, which represented the festivals’ underlying theme; Stanley Kubrick.

Kubrick lived and filmed most of his work in the area and the late film director/ screenwriter’s wife, Christiane Kubrick became the festivals first Patron after opening the 2013 debut festival, with inspiring words of support.

Christiane Kubrick, opening the festival

Christiane Kubrick, opening the festival

Each year, the festival will celebrate a new theme but keep the distinct purple branding.

birds hitchcock

As announced on our previous blog post, this year’s film festival theme is Birds, the feathered kind in – homage to Alfred Hitchcock and also women, in film and film-making and we can now reveal the character for this year.

st albans fim festival 2014 character

Expect: Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds to be screened; a ‘Birds themed cocktail bar’; appearance by St Albans Director Dan Smith, currently directing for Sir David Attenborough a 3D Animated film where Natural History Dinosaurs come to life, including the very first birds; a live demonstration of remote control heli-camera/drones that are used widely in blockbusters to capture amazing aerial shots; screenings of films featuring amazing women such as Judi Dench in the new Shakespeare film Muse of Fire, and lots lots more.



May 1st – 4th 2014 is the date for the 2nd International St Albans Film Festival and entries have already started flying in from as far as Japan, Brazil, Australia & Iceland.

If you would like to take the leap and enter the next festival you could be in with the chance of winning part of the £3000 cash prize, a crafted trophy and respect from your clan!  Anyone can enter a short film of maximum 20 mins in length into one of 7 categories, listed below:

MAIN SHORT FILM – Any short narrative film that is a work of fiction eg: drama, comedy, romance, thriller. Last years’ winner was from France – Fabrice Braq’s film ‘Time to Split’ a relationship drama which cleverly used a split screen process.

DOCUMENTARY – Any short documentary film about any subject at all from big world issues to personal stories that matter to you. We even had a beautifully shot film in year one by director Michelle Becker which showed us how to bake a really tasty cake!

MUSIC VIDEO – Any music video from any artist, band or performer around the world. The Artists from the music videos that get accepted are asked whether they would like to perform live at the festival, a great way to build your audience and fan base!

ANIMATION – Any animation short, whether it’s suitable for children, adults or both. St Albans born and bred Arthur Melbourne-Cooper made the first ever animation over 100 years ago so this category is very significant for those who enter to be part of the City’s animation heritage.

OVER 18S – Any type of film whether it’s a work of fiction, documentary, animation or music video that deals with subjects suitable for an over 18 audience only. This could be for example horror, violence, adult language, erotica. Last year’s festival saw some really great entries – an interesting one that caught our attention was ‘Phone sex Grandma!’ by Jack Truman, USA.

STUDENT FILM – Any film by a student age 16+  Perhaps you are at film school and are carving your filmmaking career or maybe you are studying something else at school or college and just have a passion for film and filmmaking?

YOUNG STUDENT FILM – A film made by a child age 5 – 15, about any subject, it can be documentary, animation, drama.. whatever you like. Last year we had films entered from USA, Scotland and all across the UK in this category and a special children’s red carpet awards ceremony.

It costs £30 to enter a film, £20 for a student & £10 for a child. If you keep an eye on the Facebook & Twitter accounts @StAlbansFF there are often chances to win a free entry. Everyone whose film gets selected for screening will get a pass worth £40 to attend the festival events so it’s really worth entering.

The deadline for sending in your short film is 1st February 2013 so get creating and see the website to find out details of how to enter and be a part of the next spectacular St Albans International Film Festival as it takes over the City once again.

Film Festival Takes Off!

Film Festival Director, Leoni Kibbey, shares with us her thoughts on the Film Festival last year and what she has in store for 2014.

ImageIn early March this year the fledgling St Albans International Film Festival soared onto the calendar of St Albans. Visitors in their thousands flocked from as far as the USA to attend the inaugural event. Greeted by over a hundred smiling volunteers (made up of enthusiastic St Albans city folk & students from University of Hertfordshire) film fans were guided to one of the twenty-two venues across the city, where they could immerse themselves in a multitude of events. These included; feature film premieres, ‘in competition’ short films selected from around four hundred entries (..and sent in from thirty countries around the world!) or to take part in fantastic creative workshops.

Alongside the programme of films and educational workshops was a plethora of culture and entertainment; the Clocktower became an immersive cinema experience, the Culture Cart’s very own Tom- a  posh gentleman on a bike, had people lino printing film themed artwork; local poet Anthony Adler helped our festival go-er explore the inner mind of a film character; live music was performed by a selection of the bands from our music video competition, guests sampled the special ‘Mothers Milk’ concoction served by a seven foot tall Droog at our Clockwork Orange themed ‘Milk Bar’ and there was even a film pub quiz that lasted a marathon 5 hours!

The glamorous closing ceremony hosted by DJ Martin Collins of Magic FM awarded over £3000 worth of prizes and the sponsors; University of Hertfordshire, Blanco, XLN Business Services & Top Talent Acting agency gave out awards to the commendable winners.

It was an astonishing sight to see screenings packed full, working relationships and friendships being forged and most of all to see the community come together to create the solid foundations for a successful annual cultural event. We had spread our wings and successfully flown.

St Albans Film Festival is important for many reasons. Not only does it celebrate local filmmaking talent, but it promotes tourism and boosts local trade. It also educates and inspires the next generation of filmmakers as well.

The festival recently won the St Albans Mayors Pride ‘Cultural Innovation Award,’ which is a huge boost to moral as we gear up for festival number two.

May 1st – 4th 2014 is the date for the Second International St Albans Film Festival and we are delighted to announce that the theme for next year’s festival is BIRDS:  by birds we mean women in film as well as the feathered kind! We will be announcing the programme over the coming months.

If you would like to take the leap and enter the festival, then the deadline for sending in your short film (max 20mins– but the shorter the better) is February 2013. Anyone can enter a short film into the competition and we welcome films of any genre and about any subject. Our categories this year include: Short Films, Music Videos, Animations, Student Films and there is a special category for films made by budding film makers aged between 5 – 15! As we all know, the months fly by, so get creating!

For more information on the upcoming festival or to find out details of how to enter and be a part of our next festival head to

St Albans Film Festival 2013 wins Cultural Innovation Award

24th October was an exciting day for St Albans Film Festival. We attended the St Albans City and District Mayor’s Pride Awards 2013, having been nominated for the Cultural Innovation Award, and being whittled down to one of three finalists, alongside: St Albans Girls School – STAGs in Colours and St Albans International Organ Festival.


It was a fantastic evening, with nine different awards being presented in total. The Cultural Innovation Award was the second award to be called and each finalist’s nomination video was played on a large screen onstage to introduce each nomination and why it had been put forward for its category.

St Albans Film Festival had received two nominations, from Imogen de la Bere and Sophie Banks. The video message played was Sophie Banks’ nomination and Festival Director Leoni Kibbey’s reaction to the news.

All finalists were invited to the stage before the golden envelope was opened and the winner announced: we got it!

Sincere congratulations to all those nominated for this category, and our two fellow shortlisted finalists. Thank you also to St Albans Mayor; Councillor Annie Brewster JP, and the judges of the St Albans City and District Mayor’s Pride Awards.


Congratulations Leoni, on your award-winning festival! We’re looking forward to next year’s events!

Nomination details in the programme

Nomination details in the programme