Friday, 16 July 2010

Crystal Palace International Film Festival (19-29 July)

Crystal Palace’s long-association with the film industry will be marked in high style this summer, with the first Crystal Palace International Film Festival, running from 19-29 July.

The festival, brainchild of local producers Neill Roy and Roberta Gallinari from Harlequin Productions, has already attracted some big names, with actor and comedian Johnny Vegas and local comedian and writer Mark Steel signing up as judges. 

They will be joined by local animation and special effects director Quentin Miles of Cinesite whose many credits include the new Clash of the Titans and the Harry Potter and James Bond series.

Neill Roy said that the idea for the festival was less a “lightbulb moment”, rather “a year or more fanning the original flame. I’ve lived here for seven years and loved it from the start. It is a hubub of all kinds of art from music to paint, sculpture and film/TV. 

"There is already a music festival here and live music every week in lots of bars – it just seemed perfect to complete the cycle. Since my company, Harlequin Productions, is local and produce commercials, video and TV we are the logical organisers.”

Crystal Palace is no stranger to moving images. Nearly a century ago Motograf films were based in the area, making such early features as The Cup Final Mystery, The Last Days of Pompeii and Big Game Hunting in the North Pole Icefields. 

In the 1930s a young film producer called J. Arthur Rank operated a studio near what is now Jasper Road, while TV pioneer John Logie Baird sent the first colour TV signals from the original Crystal Palace building. 

Larger-than-life director and former Big Brother house resident Ken Russell lived on Church Road, and is said to have shot one of his earliest films at Crystal Palace train station. 

One of British cinema’s most often quoted scenes -  in The Italian Job where Michael Caine utters the words: “You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” – was shot in the park, within sight of the television transmitter.

“Transmitter” awards will be given for best feature, short film, comedy, short comedy, horror/sci-fi, foreign-language, animation and music video, with one finalist being chosen as the ‘Best in Festival’. 

The festival may also boost the long-running campaign to re-establish a working cinema in the Crystal Palace triangle, at the site of the former Rialto/Granada cinema, later a bingo hall, and now lying empty after the rejection of a planning application to turn it into a church.

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