If you don’t live in London, or one of the UK’s other big cities (hi Birmingham and Manchester), you may think there’s not much of a chance you could ever go to a Film Festival.
Eastleigh – just a 5-minute train journey away from Southampton’s city centre, if you’re not familiar – hosted its fifth annual Film Festival last week.
Movies were screened all over the place for Eastleigh Film Festival; in theatres, sewing shops, churches and even the rooftop of a shopping centre (!). The Festival’s hosts, The Point, kindly invited me along to see a couple of films I’ve been itching to see!
First up for me was Lady Bird on Tuesday, as part of the Strong Women in Film mini-series. I missed this acclaimed film when it first came out so was very excited to see it, especially since it was preceded by a Q&A with cinema experts and academics Dr Shelley Cobb and Sarah Smyth.
The discussion was very interesting and engaging and helped me to think about the film a little deeply; something you wouldn’t get at an ordinary cinema, or at home with your DVD!
I absolutely adored Lady Bird itself. Beautifully shot, funny (I love it when the audience laughs out loud in a screening!) and poignant. Though coming-of-age tales are nothing new, this one certainly has a life of its own and true character. Saoirse Ronan was utterly brilliant as the protagonist, and every member of the cast stood out as well. I loved it all.
The Point, I think, is a lovely location to see a film; it’s just that little bit different to a big cinema; plus, at the Film Festival, you get complimentary popcorn!
The next night, I was off to Royal Victoria Country Park for a unique screening of Journey’s End.
Journey’s End is a play by R C Sherriff originally written in 1928, following a group of men in C Company over a number of days on the front line in 1918. This was adapted into a film last year, but I missed it in cinemas, which broke my heart.
What better place to watch this poignant film, than a renovated chapel on the site of a hospital which would have healed those wounded in the Great War? Royal Victoria Country Park is not only a beautiful outdoor space on the shores of the Itchen, but it was also the location of Netley Hospital, which played a huge role in both World Wars. All that now remains of the Hospital is the chapel, which, after a £3.5m restoration project, makes for an impressive sight over the trees.
The chapel is lovely inside and made for a great space for the screening; it was such a novelty! We were able to browse the exhibits beforehand and settled down with a cup of tea and our popcorn ready for the film.
Journey’s End was moving, as you would expect, and true to its theatrical origins. Often adaptations of plays can be a little slow, which was the case with this, but I think it suited the story as it focused on some intense emotion and the sheer trauma of being on the front line. I felt myself welling up many times and thought that the casting was utterly brilliant. Sam Claflin as Stanhope was spot on in particular.
The only slight negative for this screening was the sound. It hadn’t occurred to me that the chapel setting would mean that the audio would be a little echoey, but once the film began it was sometimes a little tricky to hear everything that was said on-screen. Perhaps subtitles would have been useful!
I say this, but I still managed to keep up with and enjoy the film and, considering it was the first time an event had been held at the chapel, so there were bound to be things that needed ironing out! It didn’t make the evening any less exciting.
A beautiful setting for a beautiful film.
Both events that I attended were well organised, exciting and very special. There were so many more films being shown throughout the week, including Steel Magnolias, Romeo and Juliet, and The Greatest Showman.
I had a great time popping into the Eastleigh Film Festival, and it’s been added to my list of reasons why you don’t miss out on culture just because you’re not in the capital!
Sadly, the Film Festival has ended for this year, but keep your eyes peeled for 2019 – I highly recommend getting yourself a ticket or two! Who knows what they’ll have up their sleeves next?!
In the meantime, The Point also shows films throughout the year, so you don’t have to wait too long to enjoy the silver screen.
I was given complimentary tickets to Lady Bird and Journey’s End by The Point, but as always all views are honest and completely my own.