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The extra-terrestrial international Film Festival

(March 30, 2015)

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Swim-in cinema one of a number of quirky venues for film screenings at festival just north of London from 1 - 3 May


Visitors to the St Albans Film Festival, just 20 minutes from central London, will get the chance to take in a movie while they swim or while they drink real ale under the stars, as well as in the luxury of a newly restored turn of the century cinema this year, as the third festival kicks off over the first weekend of May, with a number of Space-related film events that are out of this world.


The historic city's third Film Festival, taking place over the weekend of 1 - 3 May, is screening films in a newly restored art deco cinema which was one of the first cinemas to open in the UK, at a state-of-the-art swimming pool, in the old Georgian Town Hall and in the garden of the oldest pub in the country, as part of a programme of film-related events throughout the City, director Leoni Kibbey has announced.


Since the first event in 2013, the St Albans Film Festival has earned its place alongside the bigger international film festivals, gaining credibility by attracting over 1,000 entries from filmmakers from 40 countries into its short film competition, and also securing Christiane Kubrick, widow of film directing legend Stanley Kubrick, who lived and worked in the area, as its Patron.


The Festival is holding its grand launch event and closing awards ceremony at the recently restored Odyssey cinema, which first opened in 1908, and has taken Space as its theme this year, coinciding with the centenary of Einstein's general theory of relativity (gravity), and also the current general release of The Theory of Everything; the Oscar-winning movie about the St Albans educated famous scientist and cosmologist, Stephen Hawking.


The team will also be managing a central ‘hub' based at the St Albans Town Hall, a Grade ll listed Georgian building which is to be transformed into an exceptional new museum and art gallery in 2017, having received first phase funding from the HLF.  This historic building will hold the official screenings of the finalists in the short film competition, and run a selected number of events about filmmaking.


All other events at the festival will be organised by local partners in addition to the Odyssey, including Westminster Lodge leisure centre which is once again holding its swim-in cinema, following the huge popularity of last year's event, on Saturday 2nd May.
The leisure centre is again installing state-of-the-art equipment to screen a film for swimmers: Monsters vs Aliens is being shown in the afternoon for children and Alien Resurrection in the evening for adults. Last year's swim-in cinema sold out within days of the tickets going on sale, and with inflatable loungers to sit on and a drink included, the same demand for tickets is predicted again this year.

The oldest pub in the country, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, also has plans for an alfresco pop-up cinema and barbecue, showing popular space themed feature films on the Wednesday 29th and Thursday 30th evenings preceding the festival. 

Leoni Kibbey, festival director, says: "I am so excited about this year's theme - and have been blown away by how filmmakers have engaged with and interpreted it!   2015 is a fitting year for this futuristic theme of space, with some amazing new technologies pushing the boundaries of what film can achieve into brave new worlds.  


"In our first three years, we have established a reputation for putting on an innovative and ambitious programme of events and this year we are hoping to take this a giant leap forward with city residents and businesses taking more ownership of their festival by putting on more of their own events and initiatives to celebrate film."


Tickets go on sale next week, and further details about the festival can be found on the website


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About St Albans Film Festival

  • The film festival as it has become an important annual cultural event for the city since the first event in 2013

  • There are around 30 screenings, workshops and film related events happening over the weekend.

  • The Town Hall in the centre of the city will be screening the finalists in the Short Films competition throughout Saturday, before the winners are announced on Sunday at a closing ceremony in a central location. Films that have made it to the final include CENTURION RESURRECTION:  by Hollywood filmmaker Richard Bazely, GHERKINS, directed by St Albans BAFTA winner Dan M Smith, and HIM UPSTAIRS starring Gwen Taylor & Ricky Tomlinson.

  • St Albans has impeccable fimmaking credentials: as well as the Kubrick connection, filmmaking pioneer Arthur Melbourne-Cooper was born and bred in the city and opened one of the first cinemas in the country 100 years ago (which has just reopened). He was already at the forefront of the development of the first British 35mm moving picture camera by the time, in 1908, he opened what is cited by The Shell Book of Firsts to be one of the first cinemas, as we know them today, in St Albans. 

  • This cinema is now the newly restored Odyssey cinema, and this beautiful art deco building will be co-hosting some events with the festival this year, such as the opening feature film and the closing event. 

  • St Albans is near to major studios like Pinewood, Elstree and Leavesden.

  • Hertfordshire has always been an attractive proposition for filmmakers, from historic rural estates like Ashridge (Harry Potter, Les Miserable, Stardust) and Hatfield House (Band of Brothers, Batman Begins, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory) to Stevenage Bio Park (The Bourne Ultimatum's CIA headquarters) and St Albans Cathedral (Johnny English, Incendiary, First Knight), the county's locations have attracted the industry's biggest blockbusters for decades.

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