St Albans Film Festival announces open air cinema programme for Cathedral’s Abbey Orchard
PUBLISHED: 19:43 18 June 2017 | UPDATED: 16:31 25 June 2017
Open air cinema will take place in the grounds of St Albans Cathedral for the first time as part of this year’s St Albans Film Festival.
The outdoor cinema in the Abbey Orchard will run from Wednesday, July 5 to Saturday, July 8 as part of the city’s mind-blowing 2017 movie fest.
Among the movies to be screened are cult classics, Hollywood blockbusters and family favourites, including the recent Kong: Skull Island.
There will be a Prosecco and popcorn marquee on site, and food and drink stalls as part of St Albans’ fourth international film festival.
This year’s overall festival theme is ‘the Mind’
Festival director Leoni Kibbey is excited about the Abbey Open Air Cinema, in the Abbey Orchard.
She said: “This will be an absolutely magical setting in which to enjoy some fantastic films, in the shadow of the stunning cathedral and we are very grateful to the cathedral for helping us to do this.
“One of the reasons we wanted to set up the festival was to create a vibrant community event; an event which enables the community to come together, and celebrate the talent and creativity of the world of film, and connect with each other, in person, over some fantastic story-telling on screen, and escape from the pressures of every day life.
“Our cathedral is at the heart of Hertfordshire and I cannot think of a better place for the community to gather over a summer weekend to enjoy some brilliant filmmaking.”
The Abbey Open Air Cinema season will open with Steve Martin comedy classic The Man With Two Brains on Wednesday, July 5 at 8pm.
Directed by Carl Reiner, the hilarious 1983 American sci-fi comedy also stars Kathleen Turner. Tickets cost £10.
The following night’s movie, on Thursday, July 6, will be 1991 American road movie Thelma and Louise – the ultimate chick flick.
Directed by Ridley Scott, this thrilling crime drama stars Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon.
It starts at 8pm and tickets cost £10, plus fees.
Pixar animation Inside Out is the Friday lunchtime treat.
It will be screened at 12.30pm on Friday, July 7, with tickets costing £10, and £3 for children. It is free for under-twos.
That will be followed at 4.30pm by Kong: Skull Island.
A reboot of the King Kong franchise, the 2017 American action-adventure film stars Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L.Jackson and John Goodman.
Tickets cost £8.
Friday’s third and final movie will be six-time Oscar nominated Lion at 8pm. Tickets cost £10.
The Blues Brothers – Jake and Elwood – will bring the Abbey Orchard season to a close on Saturday, July 8.
The cult American musical crime comedy directed by John Landis and starring John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd starts at 8pm.
Tickets cost £10 and there will be a prize on the night for the best fancy dress.
This will be the fourth film festival to be held in the city that opened one of the first cinemas in the country a century ago.
Other highlights will include Virtual Reality at the Clock Tower, various film workshops, speakers and discussions throughout the city – many of them free of charge – and a drop-in ‘Mind Cafe’.
There is also an international short film competition and an all-day screening of all of the finalists in the short film competition at the beautiful Odyssey cinema.
The grand awards ceremony for all the winners will be held on Sunday, July 9 from 8pm.
In the past four years, the St Albans Film Festival has earned its place alongside the bigger international film festivals, gaining credibility by attracting over 1,500 entries from filmmakers from 40 countries into its short film competition, and also securing Christiane Kubrick, widow of film directing legend Stanley Kubrick, as its patron.
Festival director Leoni Kibbey added: “In our first three years, we have established a reputation for putting on an innovative and ambitious programme of events, and using the festival to look at a particular theme. This year we want to use film to explore the importance of the mind.
“I really want to explore both the power and beauty of the mind, and also look at the darker side of minds portrayed on film and also the issue of mental health.
“The issue of mental health is a really important topic, which affects us all at some time or other.
“I was so encouraged to see the younger members of the Royal family speaking out about these issues now as well, and really encouraging people to talk. We hope the film festival will also encourage conversation about this topic.”
The St Albans Film Festival’s lead sponsors this year are University of Hertfordshire (UHArts), Willmott Dixon, Oaklands College, and Gabriel Square.
Ray the Gorilla, the St Albans Film Festival mascot for 2017, was designed by University of Hertfordshire student Isobel Evans.
Isobel, who is studying illustration, won a competition to design the character for the fourth Festival.
She said: “I chose a gorilla mostly as a nod to classic movies like King Kong and Planet of the Apes, but gorillas also have associations with the mind as, since they are so similar to us, their intelligence is often compared with ours.
“Mostly though I just wanted to draw something that would make people smile, so I gave him a Rubik’s cube.
“I think we all know what it’s like to struggle with solving a difficult problem, so hopefully people can identify with him a little bit – even if he is a purple primate wearing a brain hat!”
• For more on the festival, visit www.stalbansfilmfestival.com