Review: St Albans Film Festival 2017 open-air cinema success

An ariel view of the St Albans open air cinema

An ariel view of the St Albans open air cinema - Credit: Archant

Set against the picturesque backdrop of St Albans Cathedral at twilight, a huge screen casts purple shadow across the Abbey Orchard.

The open air cinema was a success. Picture: Mark Sims

The open air cinema was a success. Picture: Mark Sims - Credit: Archant

It is the first ever open-air cinema erected on the Abbey grounds, given permission as part of St Albans Film Festival 2017.

This year’s theme is The Mind - accordingly, I jumped straight in with the first viewing of the week, The Man with Two Brains, staring Steve Martin as genius surgeon Dr Michael Hfuhruhurr who falls in love with a brain in a jar.

Upon arrival, the door staff were welcoming, accommodating of the boyfriend’s bike, and there was plenty of space to lay out a blanket and set up shop.

Food options included £6 slice of pizza and a pint deal from the Ye Old Fighting Cocks, Jon’s Streat Food, The Pudmobile from the Pudding Stop, OMG Street Food, and prosecco and popcorn from the Abbot’s Kitchen.

St Albans Ukulele Club were half way their pre-film entertainment set when we arrived, strumming happily away while we got comfortable, and before musical comedian Vicky Arlidge came to cringe everybody crazy by making a poor crowd volunteer sing. All good fun.

The film turned out to be a pun-tastic cult comedy which felt similar to cult classic Airplane, with cringey jokes like, “is that her?”, *pointing to a figurine*, “no, that’s a small statue of her”.

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Although it was introduced as the festival’s “wild-card”, and the crowd congratulated on choosing the “cool film” of the schedule, it was a great addition to the programme, aptly selected.

Apart from the midges, which seemed to target only us throughout the entire film, it was a lovely evening, wonderfully pulled off.

The film festival schedule also included virtual reality at St Albans Clock Tower, various film workshops, speakers and discussions throughout the city – many of them free of charge – and a drop-in Mind Cafe.

There was also an international short film competition and an all-day screening of all of the finalists in the short film competition at The Odyssey cinema. Winners of the competition were announced on Sunday, July 9.

This is the fourth annual St Albans Festival and in the past there have been more than 1,500 short movie entries submitted from 40 countries.