FEATURE: Whitley Bay Film Festival | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Nestled amongst the dreamy seafront, the community run Whitley Bay Film Festival (now in its sixth year) returns to champion all that alternative, independent and interesting cinema has to offer this August. With a history of combining film, media and art amongst the many unique settings that North Tyneside has to offer, the festival boasts events including the ever popular secret cinema, local shorts, and its trademark awesome themed one-off screenings that are quite unlike any cinema experience you’ve had before.

After a smattering of one-off events that took place in February during the warm up to the festival, things burst into full swing on Saturday 1st August at Playhouse Whitley Bay with a special (and, unfortunately but somewhat expectedly, sold out) 40th anniversary screening of Ken Russell’s classic Tommy, hosted by film and music historian Professor Chris Phipps, introduced by festival patron Ian La Frenais, and accompanied by a guest appearance from The Who’s very own Roger Daltrey. Phipps also returns on Monday 24th for one of the festival’s essential events, the compelling Great Northern Kinetoscope Show, a showcase (in partnership with BBC Newcastle) which will explore how both filmmakers and programme makers have responded to where and how the North East lives, spanning the past eight decades.

Saturday 15th marks an unmissable date for any sci-fi aficionado’s diary, with the intriguing, recently assembled giant inflatable dome (nestled amongst the Bay’s historical Spanish City) hosting a number of space-themed events, including a captivating live lunar soundtrack from percussionist and Whitley Bay resident Brendan Murphy, which follows a screening of Duncan Jones’ compelling and acclaimed feature Moon.

Another screening that is sure to be a highlight of the festival takes place on Sunday 16th, when film fans have the chance to witness the genre straddling, time travelling classic Back To The Future. There will also be a chance for younger viewers and families to catch a matinee of Pixar’s adorable (and, at times, totally heart-breaking – just watch out for the beginning sequence) Up during the day.

an absorbing roster of events, and an admirable combination of local nostalgia and a love for the off-kilter

The nostalgia bought on by Back To The Future continues when Whitley Bay’s locally run, volunteer led Jam Jar Theatre, which champions a DIY, community aesthetic throughout North Tyneside, becomes the perfect host to Blackboard Jungle, the 1955 release that marked the birth of the rock ’n’ roll revolution and kick-started a wave of modern youth culture. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the film on Friday 21st, the screening is also followed by Steve Drayton’s rock ’n’ roll record quiz.

The festival, which continues until Sunday 6th September, is peppered with many other unmissable events, including screenings from the Newcastle Photographic Festival’s Magic Lantern and Victorian Portrait Studio at St Mary’s Lighthouse (Tuesday 25th-Thursday 27th), Wim Wender’s compelling and charming Wings of Desire (Whitley Bay Library, Friday 28th), and a number of screenings and art installations entitled Arthouses taking place in unconventional spaces throughout the town (various locations, Saturday 29th-Sunday 30th).

With an absorbing roster of events, and an admirable combination of local nostalgia and a love for the off-kilter, the Whitley Bay Film Festival is once again sure to be a testament to a place that isn’t afraid to look back into its history, as well as take on the slightly unconventional.

Whitley Bay Film Festival runs from Saturday 1st August until Sunday 6th September.

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