NEWS: WHITLEY BAY FILM FESTIVAL | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Ten years ago Whitley Bay Film Festival launched with an inspired open-air screening of Jaws on the beach. Since then it’s become a regular event for cinephiles and film lovers throughout the North East, thanks to trademark film screenings in inspirational settings. Opening on Friday 16th August with a screening of Basil Dearden’s 1957 comedy The Smallest Show On Earth in Whitley Bay’s iconic Rendezvous Café, the festival’s mixed programme of films in site-specific locations (which runs until Sunday 1st September) is eclectic and fun-filled. Their unique approach to film screenings is perfectly illustrated by the programming of Robert Rossen’s cinematic adaptation of Walter Tevis’ The Hustler at Whitley Bay Snooker Centre (Tuesday 20th), and a not to be missed screening of Bryan Forbes’ Whistle Down The Wind starring Hayley Mills and Alan Bates (in his first leading film role) at Eccles Church Hall in Earsdon on Friday 30th. “Sometimes it’s the venue that inspires the film choice or sometimes we look for a film to suit the venue,” says festival director, Ema Lea. “Or, occasionally the venue owners suggest a film choice, like Seaton Delaval Hall did with Edward Scissorhands.” Johnny Depp will be getting creative alongside the topiary (not literally, unfortunately) for an outdoor screening at the National Trust favourite on Wednesday 21st.

Also outdoors is a double-bill (or a single if you prefer) of Mike Leigh’s painfully funny 1970’s classics, Nuts In May and Abigail’s Party on Monday 19th at The Crescent Club in Cullercoats, where you can watch the films while you sip on a Beaujolais.

Other highlights of the programme include a spine-tingling programme of horror classics at St Mary’s Lighthouse, including early supernatural horror The Uninvited (Tuesday 27th); there’s a live theremin demonstration at the screening of The Day The Earth Stood Still, with an introduction from media historian Chris Phipps at both (joined by horror expert Mark Iveson at The Uninvited); plus a screening of the original 1954 Japanese monster film classic Godzilla (both Wednesday 28th); while The Mediators perform a live electronic soundtrack during Murnau’s 1927 silent masterpiece Sunrise at the Rendezvous Café on Saturday 24th; and there’s more music in Chris Petit’s cult classic road movie Radio On at The Victoria on Sunday 25th, at which you can also see an exhibition from musician and artist Paul Harvey, artists Russ Bestley and Sarah Dryden and filmmaker Carol Lynn.

the festival’s mixed programme of films in site-specific locations is eclectic and fun-filled

For those preferring the more traditional cinema setting, the excellent and newly refurbished Jam Jar Cinema is the location for a screening of Albert Finney’s blistering and brilliant first on-screen performance in Karel Reisz’s 1960 black and white classic, Saturday Night And Sunday Morning (Sunday 25th).

Outside of the coastal locations, festival partners Amnesty International have programmed a series of events highlighting the 30th anniversary of the convention of the rights of the child, which include a one-off screening of Bryan Single’s powerful documentary Children of War at Newcastle’s Tyne Theatre & Opera House on Friday 23rd.

As well as leading several introductory talks, media historian Chris Phipps will host the fifth Kinetoscope Show – a cinematic journey through four decades of wonderful local archive from the BBC Newcastle vaults at the Crescent Club on Sunday 18th.

With over 250 events in 40 separate venues, ranging in scale from the historic St Mary’s Lighthouse to the festival’s newest mobile cinema, C-Side (the ‘smallest venue’ in North Tyneside), it’s no wonder this fiercely proud, home-grown film festival has delighted and entertained a loyal audience of film lovers for the past 10 years. Here’s to another 10!

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