Long-awaited sequel of the St Albans Film Festival

St Albans Film Festival 2014

St Albans Film Festival 2014 - Credit: Archant

St Albans has been a mecca for film and movie-makers for decades; from the very first and soon-to-be reinstated cinema on London Road, to Stanley Kubrick choosing the district as a base from which to complete his creations, or even Tom Cruise popping into a city centre restaurant for a curry – it seems the city and its surrounding villages can’t escape the cinematic spotlight.

So it should have come as no surprise at the start of 2013 when local actress and casting director Leoni Kibbey first revealed her blockbuster idea for a citywide festival celebrating all things film.

To say the festival director has brought “coolness” to the city would be an understatement.

Last year alone welcomed pre-release screenings, a famed Hollywood stuntman and even Stanley Kubrick’s widow Christiane, with 2014’s listings set to dazzle yet again – so much so the festival has been extended by a day.

From May 1 to 4 St Albans will once again morph into a movie fanatic’s playground with a programme of events ready to entertain, educate, or in the case of last year’s immersive cinema experience at the clock tower, provide some escapism.

Full length screenings being shown to the city’s cultural crusaders include an uncut version of Lars Von Trier’s newly released Nymphomaniac, the legendary The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock, and the poignant adoption drama Philomena – based on St Albans resident Philomena Lee – with the latter two films contributing to the festival’s themes of birds and women.

Each day will be a mixture of opportunities for ticket holders and Leoni insists guests will be hard pressed not to find an event that takes their fancy: “There is something for all tastes. Whether you are a general film fan who loves blockbusters with a chance to see one in a unique venue or whether you love experiencing brilliant indie films.

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“There are workshops for pro-filmmakers and for anyone wanting to try filmmaking for the first time. We have family events and special over 18s events and lots in between.”

Families will be able to enjoy a Harry Potter workshop in conjunction with the Warner Bros. studio tour in Watford, while those musically inclined can be blown away by the inimitable sounds of Cassette Boy.

The duo, that mix up samples and sound bites from TV shows such as The Apprentice, will be performing a special pre-Glastonbury gig at the breathtaking Cathedral opening party, as well as the closing awards ceremony to recognise the main film competition winners.

Happy memories of last year are still fresh in the festival director’s mind: “It was overwhelming to see screenings packed and the city buzzing with visiting filmmakers and film fans.

“I loved the buzzing festival office and it became clear we had a success when lots of the ‘in competition’ filmmakers arrived from as far as Spain and the USA.”

And with just two months until the curtain is the raised on the second festival, the mum-of-two can’t wait for all the event’s surprises to be unveiled: “We create a real festival buzz in the city and love a good party too.

“Plus we attract some great names in filmmaking so it’s a chance to rub shoulders with some very interesting people.”

The event can once again count on the support of the Herts Advertiser as media sponsor, and editor Matt Adams added: “This event has contributed so much to putting St Albans on the cultural map of the UK, and we are proud to again be giving it our full backing.

“As the only local newspaper based in St Albans, and a long-term campaigner for the return of a cinema to our great city, it’s the perfect match for us.”

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