As regular readers of this blog might remember, around this time last I year I wrote about my first trip to Filmstock International Film Festival, which I attended as a screening filmmaker with my short film Canbury. I wrote about the 'friendly, passionate and supportive ethos with which the festival was run' before talking about some of the great films that I'd seen while there. Well, this year I was fortunate enough to have two of my shorts selected: Hungerford: Symphony of a London Bridge and Paintbrush (which, I'm thrilled to say, also picked up the audience award for its session). Getting into any festival is always a good feeling, but I was especially excited about being invited back to Filmstock. After my experience there last year I'd have attended the festival even if they'd have kicked my films back, but I have to admit that the fact they selected them added to my enjoyment and gave the trip more of a purpose (other than just that of having fun!). However, as pleased as I was to be returning to the festival, I also knew that the trip would be tinged with sadness: shortly before the festival began it was announced that this would be the last ever edition of Filmstock.
The poster for this year's festival.
Given this fact, I'd like to focus more on the festival itself rather than the films, though I did see many that liked. I doubt that what I write here will be able to capture the frankly indescribable experience of attending Filmstock, but hopefully I'll at least be able to express something of what I feel. Returning to the festival was like returning to a family fold, as warm and as welcoming as one could hope for – as well as being able to pull together a strong festival programme, it seems like organisers Neil and Justin have a knack for finding great people to work with. To restate my friend and collaborator Rahim Moledina's comment from last year, you can really 'feel the love' (this year's festival poster, as seen above, says it all). Clearly, I'm not the only one who feels this way; many people that I spoke to had returned from previous years and those who were new to the fest seemed agreed that they'd come to the party too late. I don't feel I can write much else without slipping into hyperbole, so I'll finish here, but I'd like to add that I feel immensely proud and grateful to have been a part of this festival for the last two years. I saw some great work and made some great friends, and I'll never forget my Filmstock experiences.
Finally, although this is the end of Filmstock, I'm sure it isn't the end of Neil and Justin, and I can't wait to see what they do next – both with their filmmaking and with any future festivals or events that they put on. As I said before, Filmstock is like a family, and I can't wait for there to be some kind of reunion – in whatever form it takes. So here's to Neil and Justin and whatever their future holds! Goodbye Filmstock, we'll miss you.
Me with Rahim (right) and festival organisers Neil Fox (left) and Justin Doherty (second from right).