Blackpool’s very own film festival takes place at the Winter Gardens from Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th February. The event now in its third year features a diverse programme of black & white presentations in the Opera House and Derham Lounge alongside social events, schools’ activities, guest speakers and new this year, a competition for the best short film. Festival director Catherine Mugonyi said, “We’ve been working hard to create a diverse programme for 2017 and we feel that there is something for everyone. This year’s film competition is truly international, we have attracted entries from across the globe – as far afield as Japan, Canada and Iran. Along with all the volunteers, I can’t wait to welcome people into this truly amazing space to experience and share great film.” The programme includes drama, documentary, musicals, comedy and horror and while the theme is black & white there’s also room for a splash or two of colour. Friday sees a special schools’ presentation supported by film education charity Into Film. Hundreds of young people of coming to the Wizard of Oz (1939) with its memorable switch from monochrome to Technicolor. The Festival will also host an “exception to the rule” colour film on Sunday; a sing-along version of the 1953 musical Calamity Jane in association with Blackpool Pride Festival to celebrate LBGT History Month. The official opening is on Friday evening with a gala screening of You Were Never Lovelier (1942) starring Fred Astaire & Rita Hayworth with an option to attend the 1940’s style swing party afterwards with music for dancing from The Billionaires band. There’s more live music on Saturday with a new take on two classic horror films. Acclaimed ensemble Minima perform their unique soundtrack to the 1925 horror Phantom of the Opera starring Lon Chaney while the Lancaster Millennium Choir will present a highly entertaining, interpretation of Frankenstein (1931) in abridged form. The day’s line-up also includes Buster Keaton short films (1920-1922), one of the most popular British movies of all-time: Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), Japanese crime drama Rashomon (1950) and Embrace of the Serpent (2015) an Oscar nominee for best film in a foreign language. Sunday will see the first winner of the Festival’s Golden Seagull awards with the screenings and awards in the short film competition. Feature presentations are Sunrise (1927) with a live accompaniment of contemporary popular songs from Wurlitza and a preview screening of The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki (2016), the award-winning, true story of Olli Mäki, a Finnish boxing hero and his attempt to win the 1962 world championship featherweight title.
The Winter Gardens Film Festival is delivered by the Winter Gardens Trust and Blackpool based voluntary arts group, Aunty Social supported by Blackpool Council, Burbage Holiday Group, Into Film, Blackpool Entertainment Company and The Granada Foundation. Tickets for individual screenings are on-sale now through the website www.wintergardensfilm.co.uk, from the Charabanc store on Coronation Street at weekends or from the venue during the Festival. A wristband for the full programme of events is also available.