A feast of film

If you love watching films or if you love making films, you’ll love the first ever Guernsey Film Fest. Shaun Shackleton spoke to the organisers, Lars Janssen and Charlotte Dawn Potter of Guernsey Filmworks, about what movie lovers can expect...

Some of the films which will be shown at Guernsey Film Fest. Les Travailleurs De La Mer, Whisky Galore and L’Histoire D’Adele H. (31142154)
Some of the films which will be shown at Guernsey Film Fest. Les Travailleurs De La Mer, Whisky Galore and L’Histoire D’Adele H. (31142154)

GREAT news for film lovers – the inaugural Guernsey Film Fest takes place in October.

The brainchild of filmmakers Lars Janssen and Charlotte Dawn Potter of Guernsey Filmworks, the festival will feature local and international films, both mainstream and independent, from shorts to features of all genres. It will take place at the Mallard Cinema over a weekend.

‘We always wanted to put on a film festival, an event for the whole community, and for it to be accessible to everyone,’ explained Lars. ‘So the Guernsey Film Fest is completely free. We have funding through local companies who are paying for the rights of the films being shown. It’s a completely not-for-profit film festival.’

The organisers have worked closely with Daniel Phillips, general manager at the Mallard.

‘We’ve worked with Daniel before and the Mallard was where we held the premiere of Lorelei,’ said Charlotte.

‘The festival is taking place in October, which is the tipping off edge of the tourist season, but there’ll be Tennerfest happening and there is a restaurant at the Mallard and a pub next door.’

‘And of course, there’s popcorn,’ added Lars.

The films chosen fit into different segments – local, international and LGBTQ+, the latter in collaboration with Liberate.

‘For the local segment we have The Blockhouse from 1973,’ said Lars. ‘They recently did a restoration of it.’

The film stars Peter Sellars and Charles Aznavour and is about a mixed group of forced labourers held by German forces who take shelter from a D-Day bombardment inside a bunker, but are entombed when the entrances are blocked by the shelling.

‘It’s a dark film, both in content and visually, but we think it’s an interesting and important one.

‘We also have 1975 film, The Story Of Adele H., which was directed by Francois Truffaut and filmed in Guernsey.’

‘In fact, we were filming at Pleinmont a couple of weeks ago and we realised we were in exactly the same place as a scene in the film, and it hadn’t changed a bit,’ said Charlotte.

‘We also have the 1917 film Les Travailleurs de la Mer by director Andre Antoine. It wasn’t filmed in Guernsey, but it’s ironic that the director lived in exile whilst making the film, just like Victor Hugo wrote his book in exile in Guernsey. An explanation reads: “Fleeing Paris during the First World War, Andre Antoine took advantage of his exile in Brittany to transpose the story to Camaret-sur-mer, where he had bought a house in 1902, rather than Guernsey”.

‘This is the first time that it’s been shown outside of France. It’s our opening film for the festival and it was quite a challenge to get permission to show it.’

Two films were selected by the organisers simply because they are their favourites.

‘I chose Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks because I love it,’ said Charlotte. ‘Lars chose M Night Shyamalan’s The Village. If you know Lars’ work, you can see how inspirational the director is.’

Other films include Whisky Galore (the 2016 version); Cowboys, about a father who runs away with his trans son into the Montana wilderness after his ex-wife’s refusal to let their son live as his authentic self; and Rhino, a Ukrainian crime drama chronicling the rise and fall of a gangster nicknamed Rhinoceros.

Local, national and international filmmakers are also being encouraged to submit their own films to be shown at the festival.

Awards will be available for more than 12 categories and one film from each category will have the chance to win the audience choice Golden Donkey Award.

Lars and Charlotte will be at the festival over the weekend introducing the films and handing out the voting cards to audience members.

‘We are still looking for sponsors, both individuals and businesses, so if you would like to get involved, please get in touch,’ said Lars.

‘We are hoping that the Guernsey Film Fest will be an annual event.’

  • The Guernsey Film Fest takes place on Saturday and Sunday 1 and 2 October and is free. To find out more about the festival, and how to submit your film, visit filmfreeway.com/GuernseyFilmFest. A complete festival programme will be released in due course.

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