News Column

Lantern flick fest that's proved to be a shining example ; COLUMNIST Word on the Street Sarah Bond's musings on life in Tunbridge Wells

July 19, 2013


LANTERNS, CAMERA, ACTION... Eat your hearts out cinema grot spot developers - Tunbridge Wells is fast becoming the world's latest cinematic sensation as our Electric Lantern Motion Picture Festival now goes international.

I can just imagine The Pantiles turning into our own Cannes- style Croisette during festival week, and celebrity marquees popping up on the Common - like Queen Henrietta Maria's tents back in the day.

Yachts Perhaps we could even open up the River Teise to fit a few yachts on Dunorlan Lake? The festival, nicknamed ELF, has proved such a hit on the global stage it was announced this week its run at Trinity Theatre in September will be extended from three days to a whole week. Festival director Samuel Marlow is thrilled.

When word got out on the internet about this year's ELF, I was astonished to see entries flooding in from such far-flung places as New York, Brazil, Cambodia, South Korea, India, Israel, Serbia, the Phillipines and even Iran, he says.

At one point I was receiving ten films a day, ranging from 36 seconds to nearly two hours, he laughs. I've been locked away for a solid three weeks just viewing them all.

The trouble is they were all so good. Every time I put a new one on I thought 'Please let this be rubbish' because it was so hard to choose.

Sam had to whittle down 200 entries from 18 countries to 62, which will be shown on two screens from September 2-8. The final programme was revealed on Sunday - with David Essex sprinkling on a bit of Stardust in The Traveller, which is headlining in the Gala finale, and entries from several local film-makers, too.

They include author B R (Bridget) Collins and Liam Rogers, co- founder of next year's new festival Artists Unveiled.

As a film-maker, Sam has two short entries himself - Kite and Life is a Stage - but modestly claims several others are better.

On top of ELF's success, fabulous local film The Moo Man - about Hailsham dairy farmer Stephen Hook and his adorable cows - really milked it at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Cowed After its UK release last week it's wowing the critics here, too, reducing even the most hardened national hacks to tears thanks to the amusing antics of Ida, Ration and Clever Kate, who refused to be, er, cowed.

You can catch The Moo Man with a Q&A at Hawkhurst's Kino Cinema tonight (Friday) and at Hailsham in August.

And if you are kicking yourself for not entering ELF, never fear. You still can enter Tunbridge Wells' Fusion film festival up to July 27.

Yes, Tunbridge Wells is a town for films - we are already a favourite with George Clooney, and the grammar schools staged their own Oscars this year.

Perhaps we've missed a trick - how about having our own film studios on that old cinema site? &

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