In 2021, we are delighted to bring you the best of independent cinema with our new “At Home” strand of Cheltenham International Film Festival. At Home complements the main film festival programme with an alternative selection of films streamed online direct into the homes of audiences unable to attend the festival.
At Home was borne of Cheltenham International Film Festival 2020. It was back in mid-March 2020, our festival programme had been confirmed, the venues were booked and dates announced. All changed on 23rd March when the British government put the country into a nationwide Covid-19 lockdown. We had quickly to consider our options; to postpone the event or to cancel. We decided the Festival would go ahead. On 8 June, one week later than had been planned, the entire festival of 40 films and 10 Q&As with filmmakers from around the world was streamed into the homes of audiences around the country; the first international film festival in the UK to go online and subject to a British Film Institute (BFI) case history.
Y O U R S C R E E N
The critical and commercial success of the online festival also led to the launch of YourScreen a year-round “virtual” cinema, screening new films and/or films unavailable on any other digital platform. YourScreen was created to support and to partner with independent cinemas and local film societies.
The 2020 CIFF Festival was proud to curate a programme with many new films from emerging women directors, which included:
Antigone, the award-winning Canadian film, directed by Sophie Deraspe and Canada’s entry to the Oscars; Sophocles’s Greek tragedy was re-worked by Deraspe to focus on modern-day immigration. Son-Mother, directed by Mahnaz Mohammadi, filmmaker and Iranian women’s rights activist, tells of the struggles and sacrifices made by a woman bringing up a family in a society dominated by institutional male prejudice. The Festival screened two highly-praised documentaries: Scheme Birds, winner of Best Documentary Feature at Tribeca, directed and written by Ellinor Hallin and Ellen Fisk, and Rock Against Racism, Rubika Shah’s film about the movement of the same name
The Festival introduced, Polish director, Bartosz Kruhlik to British audiences. His debut film, Supernova, turned the narrative of a simple road accident in a country lane into a statement on human behaviour and how opinions and actions can be changed in an instant. A light touch was needed in the comedy-drama Ladies of Steel, the Finnish film directed by actress turned director, Pamela Tola. And the Festival had the opportunity to interview and conduct a Q&A with our own Honorary Patron, Simon Pegg, who starred in the debut film of director, Katherine O’Connor, Lost Transmissions.
The festival also screened a programme of shorts which opened with Wings, directed by British-Caribbean director, Jamie Weston, a touching tale of gay love across decades starring two of Britain’s most popular actress, Miriam Margolyes and Virginia Mckenna.