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Commonwealth Film Festival wrapped

Commonwealth Film Festival Celebrates Most Successful Year Yet

Opening gala presentation of Australian–British co-production, Oyster Farmer, had set the scene for what was to be a stimulating, energetic and extremely exciting 10 days. With more than 200 feature films, shorts and documentaries, the fourth Commonwealth Film Festival drew to a close with the UK Premiere of South African drama Forgiveness and the Audience Awards ceremony. A marked increased in audience participation was witnessed at this year’s Festival, not only at screenings and events, but also in the record number of votes received for the Audience Awards. The Commonwealth Film Festival has undoubtedly built on the successes of previous years, and has already gained fantastic feedback from delegates, partners of the Festival, and audiences from Manchester and beyond.

This was programme director Mathieu Ravier’s fourth year programming the Festival: “I am thrilled with the event’s success, both in reaching a large and diverse audience and in being able to attract top names to Manchester: award-winning actors and filmmakers, festival programmers, buyers and industry representatives from the world over. Many of our international guests were seduced by Manchester: they discovered a vibrant, multicultural city with a prodigious capacity to host world-class cultural events”.

Day events such as masterclasses and debates were hosted by respected industry insiders and commentators, creating a forum for new and established filmmakers to converse and exchange ideas. Countless screenings received enthusiastic receptions from the audience, with many of the shorts and features selling out in advance, amongst which previews of A Good Woman and It’s All Gone Pete Tong. Several films had their UK or European premieres at the Festival, including hit Canadian comedy Sabah, Fiji’s first ever feature film The Land Has Eyes and the epic Princess of Mount Ledang, which headlined this year’s special focus on Malaysia.

Audiences were given the chance to meet some of the 150 filmmakers and industry representatives in attendance. Amongst them were local heroes Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce, in town to present a special preview of Millions. Visiting filmmakers from Canada (Pink Ludoos), Scotland (Funny Kinda Guy), New Zealand (Sheilas: 28 Years On), India (Hari Om) and Pakistan (Women of the Holy Kingdom) were thrilled by their visit to Manchester and the warm reception of the city’s film-savvy audience.

British filmmakers were equally impressed. Juliet McKoen, winner of the BBC Audience Award for Best Feature for her Lancashire-shot thriller Frozen, confessed she was “a great admirer of Commonwealth Film Festival”. She said: “Even though it's a relatively young festival, it pulls in a great audience and I'm impressed by the way the programme of screenings and events has an energy and relevance to both film makers and public alike.”

Special events incorporating musical and new media perormances, and strands focusing on gay and lesbian cinema, dance films and diaspora communities widened the scope of programming and ensured there was something on offer to suit everyone.

While screenings, parties and industry events were going on, Kabaret05 was taking place all over Manchester. Montreal filmmakers teamed up with local participants from the monthly Filmonik nights and set themselves the task of shooting 30 short films in no more than a couple of days. Over three Kabaret events throughout the Festival, and audiences were amazed at what was achieved is such a short space of time, culminating in the final screening drawing sell-out crowds of over 200 spectators.

The Commonwealth Film Festival can celebrate its success this year thanks to the support of all its sponsors, venue partners, volunteers, delegates, as well as new and existing audiences. The Festival’s education programme is now in full swing in the Greater Manchester area while plans for a national tour and an exciting programme of year-round events have already begun. News of next year’s 5th anniversary Festival will be revealed in the coming months.

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