St Albans Film Festival prepares for second year

The second St Albans Film Festival will take the theme of Birds

The second St Albans Film Festival will take the theme of Birds - Credit: Archant

The second St Albans Film Festival is gearing up to take flight with a brand new theme drawing inspiration from birds and a longer weekend slot in May.

Entries are now open for the competition and can be sent in until February 1, with submissions already flying in from as far as Japan, Brazil, Australia and Iceland.

This year the festival will run over four days from May 1 to 4 and will host a series of screenings, including the legendary The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock, alongside the main film competition.

Festival director Leoni Kibbey said: “As a member of the RSPB I wanted to choose a theme that I was passionate about and that had loads of scope for fun as well as promoting themes of environmental issues that are close to my heart.

“I love birds and find my own peace during the intense preparations of the film festival by taking a moment to look up at the majestic Gorhambury Kites which fly over the city every day.”

The casting director went on: “The festival will be buzzing with things to do for all ages and we are planning some outdoor events with the festival this year being in the warmer month of May.”

St Albans director Dan Smith, who is currently directing a Sir David Attenborough nature show which explores the very first birds on Earth, is slated to make an appearance and share his experiences in film-making.

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But it won’t just be birds that fly that take centre stage at the festival this year, as Leoni explained: “Our festival theme for this year is BIRDS – as in the feathered kind and women in film.”

To honour women at the festival all of the non-competition films selected for screening will have to adhere to the “Bechdel Test”. To pass the test pictures have to feature at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man.

Leoni said: “Many contemporary works fail this test of gender bias and it’s amazing what we have got used to watching on screen. I personally love watching great male roles on TV, Luther and Breaking Bad are my two favourite shows of 2013, but neither passed the test. In real life women can also be intelligent, independent and strong too and for the festival this year it’s about encouraging that fair representation.”

She added: “There are lots of talented women in St Albans with brilliant entrepreneurial ideas, creative and business skills and drive. I feel a great spirit in St Albans of women supporting women – a lot who are juggling families and careers. In life I believe women and men are of equal importance.”

The Film Festival is offering half price entries exclusively to Herts Advertiser readers residing in the county who quote HERTSAD on their application form, which can be accessed at Champions of each category, which include best short film, documentary, music video and best actor or actress, will win a share of the £3,000 pot up for grabs and a crafted trophy.