Event review: Croydon International Film Festival 2014

By - Wednesday 5th November, 2014

Charlie Donald reports on a film festival that puts Croydon firmly on the arts map

Toasting the success of Croydon International Film Festival.
Photo by Michael To, used with permission.

It may have been a quiet Saturday afternoon in October but Matthews Yard, venue of the Croydon International Film Festival (CIFF), was full of people taking the opportunity to see short films from all around the world. The festival had drawn people into the area from across London and even from as far afield as Brazil!

Organisers Benjamin Bridges and Donna Lipowitz had narrowed down a selection of 29 films after starting with over 200. The films were split into five sets, then after each of these there was a break to talk about the films and enjoy a drink from the Matthew’s Yard bar. The first set included the winner of the experimental films category. Rolling Frames, directed by Katie Garrett, was dance-choreographed to poetry and a worthy category winner. It was beautifully filmed but I think it was the originality of the concept that really impressed.

We saw films as diverse as their countries of origin

The second set featured three of my personal favourites: Radio Life by Seidelin Ejner and Grant Glen, a quirky Danish film about two oddball characters teaching physics over the radio. It’s funnier than it sounds, and won the prize for best documentary. Also in this category, the film Like in the Movies by Francesco Faralli stood out. It was a moving documentary showing Francesco and his friends remaking famous films with disabled people as the actors. The sense of enjoyment by both cast and crew came across really well in this short film.

One of the most well-received films of the festival, Owenie Ryan’s Swansea Sojourn by Brian Manton, was the humorous story of unemployed Owenie from Ireland, who discovers that he can transfer his benefits to anywhere in Europe for three weeks. He throws a dart at a map and ends up in… Swansea! He is a colourful and thoroughly likeable character, and in the ten minutes we spend with him he manages to immerse us in his story.

The audience is listening: Charlie Donald and partner Joy Akwue-Butler at Croydon International Film Festival.
Photo by Michael To, used with permission.

Elsewhere we saw films as diverse as their countries of origin. A documentary from Afghanistan was a harrowing account from a young victim of domestic violence. Then a British documentary about an eccentric old man and his relationship with his two dogs was followed by an undersea comedy from Honduras about cleaning up after the fish. These are just some of the many short films we enjoyed throughout the afternoon.

There were Q & A sessions with the filmmakers following some of the short films, which gave the audience an understanding of their process.

The overall winner of the Festival was Bexie Bush for her film Mend and Make Do. It is the story of Lyn and her romance during wartime. Her belongings come to life to show all the happiness, sadness and humour of her life. A beautiful film visually and also thematically moving, it was a worthy winner of the festival.

All that was left was to hand out the prizes to the winners and then bring down the curtain on a successful festival. Hopefully the organisers will be able to discover as many interesting short films to entertain us next year!

Charlie Donald

Charlie Donald

Originally from Devon, Charlie has lived in Croydon for over 10 years. Although he currently resides in Caterham with his partner Joy, he still works in the heart of Croydon. His interests include cricket, football, films and visiting local restaurants.

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