2015 St Albans Film Festival is an out of this world success

St Albans Film Festival

St Albans Film Festival - Credit: Archant

A St Albans filmmaker beat off competition from as far afield as Russia and Mexico to pick up the short film award at the 2015 St Albans Film Festival.

Former Sandringham pupil Ben Roper was presented with the Main Short Film award for his short Final Spin at Sunday’s awards ceremony in the Odyssey Cinema.

Ben’s award was the second award for local talent, as St Albans schoolgirls Ella and Saoirse Bettison picked up the Best Young Student Award for their short film The Polytunnel.

His film, shot entirely in woodland in Hertfordshire, explores what happens to the things we throw away and tells the story of a washing machine abandoned in woods, that goes in search of a new life.

The filmmaker collected his award from actor and star of Channel 4’s Cucumber, Vincent Franklin, who lives in St Albans and called the film “beautiful” adding: “It tells its story without any dialogue, purely with the power of the visual image.”

Ben said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have won this award in our home town, and incredibly grateful for the enthusiastic support we’ve received for our film.

“Living in St Albans feels like living in a bubble in a positive sense - It’s just removed enough to let you look back at the world, and perhaps this is what has made the area so attractive to filmmakers.”

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Student winners Ella Bettison, 14, from St Albans Girls School and her 11-year-old sister Saoirse, from Garden Fields primary said they were both amazed to see their film projected onto the massive Odyssey screen.

It’s a long way from St Albans to Hollywood, but the Best Animation winner was in LA only three months ago where she narrowly missed out on an Oscar. Daisy Jacobs took a year to painstakingly craft her film The Bigger Picture, which tells the story of two brothers struggling to take care of their elderly mother.

The Best Actor award went to Elizabeth Boag for her performance in I Only Have Eyes For You, written and directed by Daniel Bayle, which will screen at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

Festival director Leoni Kibbey said: “Every year I can’t believe how high the standard is, and this year was no exception. We received more than 500 entries from 40 countries this year and our panel were genuinely hugely impressed by the quality of filmmaking, creativity and talent.

This year’s festival was based around the theme of space and many local businesses and organisations got into the spirit by holding themed film events, including a screening of Alien and Aliens in the garden of Ye Olde Fighting Cocks and a swim-in cinema at Westminster Lodge. Nearby Bayfordbury Observatory put on a special star-gazing night as part of the event, and Oaklands College students organised two days of space-themed workshops.