Megascreen Courtney Love, Pam Hogg & pal FX Screen at Emslie Horniman's Portobello Pirate TV

for a more detailed programme of films for 2000 click here to see more pics from PFF 2000 click here




2000 was the year the Portobello Film Festival came of age. Featuring three days and nights in Emslie Hornimans Park, Kensal Road, with a megascreen, two cinemas in a big top, funfair. bar and dancing robots, three days of premieres in the luxury of John Brown Publishing's viewing cinema in Bramley Road, Screen West, two nights of Palm Pictures and Funky Fast Shorts at Subterania and 10 evenings of Video Cafe at the Beat Bar, Portobello RoadÄ this was by far the most ambitious and successful Portobello Film Festival in its five year history. Every one of the 350 films in the programme was shown (more or less!) on time. We showed 144 hours of new films to some 12,000 people. The two nights at Subterania drew 500 people per night. The ten nights at the Beat Bar attracted over 100 people each night. Screen West pulled 200 for each of its three evenings. And the day and night sessions over the Friday, Saturday, Sunday at Emslie Hornimans Park saw attendances of over 3000 each day. As usual every film submitted was shown and admission to all events was free.


We launched the Portobello Film & Video Festival 2000 at the well known Cobden Club three weeks before the Festival. An audience of 200, comprising funders, sponsors, film-makers, press and local celebrities watched highlights from the forthcoming programme and danced to local DJs into the small hours fuelled by complimentary drinks from sponsors Morgan Spice and Galliano. Jade Jagger, Anita Pallenberg, Jenny Runacre, Danny John Jules and Duggie Fields were spotted amongst the throng. We shared the party with local Dot Com company Portowebbo who designed our website and programme.

The first evening of Subterania was dedicated to two features, "Dancehall Queen" and "Third World Cop", from local firm Palm Pictures: Chris (Island Records) Blackwell's new film company making digital films in the Jamaican ghetto. Introduced by Don Letts (director of "Dancehall Queen") who championed the usefulness of digital video as a democratic creative medium, and likened the current explosion of independent film-making to the early days of reggae and punk rock. The second evening featured a selection of short films from disaffected industry professionals and included several films -"Bob A Job", "The Balloon" and "7 1/2" - that were later selected for the Dr. Martens Golden Boot Award.

We held the Video Cafe at the Beat Bar in Portobello Road. As well as showing programmed films every evening between 6pm and 11pm, this was also an opportunity for film-makers to bring their films along on the night and present them to a wider public. It is an intimate space, perhaps the nicest bar on Portobello, and has it's own buzzy vibe. A feature was shown every night for two weeks along with the shorts. Often directors introduced their films. The films create the atmosphere and it is a great place for networking and test screening work. Attendees have the option of watching the films in front of the screen or socialising by the bar. It attracted the interest of film buyers, film-makers and the local community. Highlights included "The Social Club" a love story by and about disabled people from New York, "We Love You John Salt" a hilarious Shane Meadowsesque story about an awkward lad in Liverpool and Robert Hertner's "Amazing Crap Video. Com" about his career as Ambassador for the Independent State of Texas. The Video Cafe was a lively environment with the accent on fun.


This was the highlight of the Portobello Film Festival. Three days in a park in North Kensington, opposite Canalot Studios, with a 30 foot megascreen, funfair, bar, cafe, and big top split into two cinemas. Local artist Joe Rush brought his dancing and drumming robots which inspired kids from the next door adventure playground to make their own ("we can do better than that"). Friday afternoon kicked off on the megascreen with latest work from the National Film & Television School and the London Production Fund followed by more Funky Fast Shorts. The main movie in the evening was "The Matrix" which was especially magical with its special effects set against day turning into night with a new crescent moon rising behind the screen. The 70 foot Big Top (courtesy of Glastonbury Festival) was split into two cinemas showing less mainstream work. Comedy, local films, dancing movies, documentaries played alongside a Gay & Lesbian programme in the evening. Saturday saw the biggest crowds lured by non-stop music movies on the megascreen from Bob Marley to Metalheadz, from The Clash to the Sex Pistols. A complimentary programme in the Big Top multiplex featured unseen work from Mute Records including Moby and Add N to X, Carol Morley's "The Alcohol Years" featuring New Order and the Buzzcocks, a Rock Art section which Courtney Love turned up to watch, and a VJ programme featuring Mutoid Waste Company, Portobello Pirate TV and Red Dog mixing images live to drum and bass, techno and garage DJs. On Sunday afternoon we showed "Notting Hill" on the Megascreen followed by the Golden Boot Awards selection. In the Big Top we had a particularly impressive screening of work by local film-makers including Futura 3000 and a fantastic International programme from US, Japan, Isreal, Spain, Holland, Yugoslavia, Poland and France of exceptionally high quality. Many international film-makers travelled to Portobello to visit the Festival. Especially good were "Think Of A Game" from Spain, "Wojaczek" from Poland And "Observations in Holland" which won the coveted Dr. Martens Golden Boot Award. Other films selected for the Golden Boot were the 3D animation "The Last Road Trip" also from Holland, "The Ballad Of Clara Two Shoes", "Accelerator" by Pam Hogg featuring Primal Scream, and two hours more mad bad wild Portobello style footage. Mr Andrew Northwood from JVC came along to present state of the art digital computer friendly JVC video cameras to Sean Garland for "Abbotts Approach" (Best Cinematography), "Mutoid Waste Company" by Joe Rush & Uli Happe (Best Documentary) and Wilf Macdonald and Nic Marc for "The Real Notting Hill" (Best Direction).


A large number of feature films were submitted to the 2000 Portobello Film Festival, six of which were premiered at Screen West, John Brown Publishing's luxury viewing cinema under the Westway near Latimer Road tube. Highlights included Brit Lit superstar Tim Willock's "Bad City Blues", a labyrinthine thriller set in New Orleans and starring Dennis Hopper, "The Rook" a Sci-fi Gothic detective story starring Martin Donovan, the supernatural "Abbott's Approach" by Sean Garland which won a JVC camera for best Digital Video cinematography and Stephen Lenhoff's gay comedy "Rhythm And Blues" which was especially well attended.


The Festival wrapped with a three course Grand Feast at the Belgo Restaurant, Ladbroke Grove, for Dr. Martens Golden Boot and JVC Award winners, sponsors, funders and Film Festival workers. A great time was had by all and plans were made for the future.

The Festival was - as in the past four years- organised entirely by mostly unemployed local unpaid volunteers. All monies raised were spent on the Festival itself and not on wages. The Portobello Film Festival runs a year round Event Management Course sponsored by North Kensington Arts and Fighting Unemployment in North Kensington (FUNK) which offers Practical Festival Promotion Work Experience and Training for local unemployed people, many of whom have gone on to get jobs in the Media. Festival workers and Festival attendees reflect the multicultural nature of North Kensington (one of the most culturally diverse areas in UK and the poorest part of Kensington & Chelsea) with a complete cross section of racial origins and age groups.