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

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Cinephiles rejoice! For four weeks Whitley Bay is once again being turned into a movie-goers dream, as the Whitley Bay Film Festival returns to celebrate all things filmic for the seventh year running. Taking blockbusters, short film reels and everything in between to cafes, lighthouses and even business parks, this year’s event mixes the glamour of Hollywood with glimpses into the history of the North East.

For those wanting to experience a cinematic masterpiece with a twist, the Rendezvous Café provides the setting for a special screening of Fritz Lang’s 1927 Metropolis (Sunday 14th August). The tale of a futuristic city deeply divided by class will be accompanied by a live electronic soundtrack by experimental sound designers Dr Brown and Andy Eardley. Whitley Bay’s movie utopia, Jam Jar Cinema, will host a screening of the stunning 1936 adaptation of HG Wells’ harrowing vision of the future, Things to Come (Wednesday 31st August). One of the most striking features of Things to Come is its score, and after the screening media historian Chris Phipps will be paying tribute to its composer, Arthur Bliss, along with the underrated work of a number of other British composers.

Keeping on a musical theme, this year’s festival will be hosting a David Bowie Day, which includes a screening of Labyrinth on Saturday 3rd September. Dedicated to Steve Donald (brother of Viz co-creator Simon Donald and animatronics expert who worked with Jim Henson on the cult film), some of the proceeds go to St Oswald’s Hospice.

this year’s event mixes the glamour of Hollywood with glimpses into the history of the North East

At the quirkier end of the spectrum, the Crescent Club at Cullercoats will play host to a showing of It’s Nice Up North (Thursday 25th August), a hilarious mockumentary featuring Sheffield’s finest singer and organist, John Shuttleworth. He’s on a mission to find out if people really do become nicer the further up the country you go. It’s followed by a Q&A with Graham Fellows, the man behind the organ. If ghouls and monsters are more your thing, then Mark Iveson will be talking about his book Cursed Horror Stars with Chris Phipps at St. Mary’s Lighthouse (Tuesday 16th August). It’ll reveal some of the real life demons behind classic monster-movie stars such as Bela Lugosi and Peter Lorre. Also at St Mary’s on Monday 15th August, artist and musician Paul Harvey introduces Jaromil Jires’ Czech New Wave flick Valerie And Her Week of Wonders.

Of course, no Whitley Bay Film Festival would be complete without a celebration of the region’s cinema, and this year is no different. The Exchange in North Shields will host a special 20th anniversary screening of Our Friends In The North (Friday 26th August), a saga of the political and personal fortunes of four friends over three decades, and writer Peter Flannery will be talking about how the TV drama came to be on our screens. Meanwhile, BBC Newcastle are helping to bring 50 years of archive footage from the region to The Crescent Club, including footage of the late Mohammad Ali’s celebrated visit to South Shields in 1977 (Wednesday 24th August).

Whether you’re into cinematic history or just enjoy a good old blockbuster, this year’s programme once again offers something to delight the cinemagoer in everyone.

Whitley Bay Film Festival takes place across various venues between Saturday 13th August and Sunday 4th September.

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