Portobello Film Festival Report
1st – 21st August 2003

The biggest free film festival in the world by films shown and numbers attending.

Portobello Film Festival presents every film submitted: an open platform for new filmmakers and their audience. This year over 700 films were screened at 31 separate events from the digital megascreen in Emslie Horniman’s Park to the Westway Sports Bar Video Café, from hot Westbourne Studios to the legendary Elgin pub on Ladbroke Grove. Entry to all events was free.

Two weeks of evening themes, crafted from open entry contributions to our website - advertised on radio, in Time Out and BFI publications - and interesting work sourced by the Festival team itself, featured Multimedia, John Malkovich, Italian Shorts, New Features, Music Videos, Contemporary Iranian Film, Local (London) Directors, Dutch Movies, Documentaries, Funky Fast Shorts, Bring Your Own, Extreme Sports, Joe Strummer, Black Humour, Turkish Films, Film Council Films, and Family Features on the megascreen.

The Festival presented a kids interactive day in association with Third Place/Playstation 2.

Especially popular throughout were the Funky Fast Short programmes-independent shorts hot off the edit suite, the bread and butter of the Portobello Film Festival, with new ideas and attitudes, fresh, removed from the dull mainstream.

The Italian Cultural Institute hosted a wonderful evening with films, directors and an opera singer. BowieArt premiered their latest work. Dutch filmmakers from Mama Rotterdam brought over their work.

Cabaret act Pinkypoos were a big crowd puller, as was the amazing Documentary day featuring films on subjects as diverse as 80s nightclub Kinky Gerlinky, middle aged swimming pool skaters in California, the origin of the song The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Rastafarianism, and deaths in Police Cells.

Apple Europe and Connections presented a Final Cut Pro Demonstration.

Local record label Wall Of Sound hosted a question and answer session with top video directors. And on the Joe Strummer Tribute night at The Elgin a member of the audience brought along some Super 8 footage of Joe playing on that very stage with the 101ers in 1975!

Many films were attended and introduced by the Directors and crew. As usual a Party atmosphere prevailed throughout with special events at The Cobden Club, The Elgin, Westbourne Studios and The Electric Cinema. Full houses were the order of the day with twice as many people as usual attending the two week run up at the local venues leading to Emslie Horniman’s Park.

Over three days in the Park (15-17 August) the biggest Megascreen at Portobello, in it’s eight year history, played Family Films all day from Spider Man to Scooby Doo, from Treasure Planet to The Matrix Reloaded, from

Shrek to Lord Of The Rings to a large park that was full every afternoon and evening, with food and drink from local caterers, and a chillout tent courtesy of Revelation Gogo Broadcasting bringing a taste of Glastonbury to Portobello featuring independent work from local and international film makers.

Also featured on the Megascreen were classic and contemporary films from Cartoon Network and latest Digital Shorts from the Film Council New Cinema Fund/Short Circuit.

Awards 2003

The Gala Award Ceremony was held on Thursday 21 August at The Electric Cinema, 191 Portobello Road.

The winning entries sponsored by JVC, Apple Europe, and Seriously Vodka were:

BEST FILM JVC DIGITAL CAMERA AWARD Shooting Blanks (Liam Gavin)/ Cupid as an alcoholic/ 10 mins

FINAL CUT EXPRESS SPECIAL AWARD Aqua Gym (Simon Green) /Dizzy underwater ballet/ 5 mins

BEST ANIMATION Extension 21 (Lizzie Oxby)/Delerious mix of live footage and animation based on telephone frustration/ 10 mins

BEST SCREENPLAY Ned Walking (Gurchetan Singh)/ Mocumentary about a dead man/ 15 mins

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY Big Hair (Alex Reuben)/ Supermodel secret agents philosophise on fate/ 5 mins

BEST MULTIMEDIA Parellines (Anthony Gross)/ Clips from Rocky 1 and 2, the same sequences in each film/ 5 mins

SPECIAL INDEPENDENT FILM AWARD Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment (Cliff Homow & Midge Devitt)/ Mad scientist fuses Abba and The Ramones/ 5 mins

MOST POPULAR FILM The Pinkypoos Experience (Angelica Campion & Marcus Dadorm)/ Movie spoofs from local cabaret queens/ 5 mins

BEST MUSIC FILM Resistencia (Tom Feiling)/ Hip Hop Street Life in Columbia/ 5 min

BEST DOCUMENTARY A Lions Tale (Francois Verster)/ The story of The Lion Sleeps Tonight, a South African Buena Vista Social Club/5 min

SPECIAL MENTION Coming Through (Oliver Mallah)/A walk up Portobello Road with some very strange things happening along the way/ 10 mins

SPECIAL MENTION Daylight Robbery (Tom Balogh)/Trailer for definitive West Londoners behaving very badly feature/ 10 mins


Many many thanks as usual to our partners, supporters, sponsors and funders without whom such a large Festival would not be possible: Arts Council, Royal Borough Kensington and Chelsea, Campden Charities, Film London, the Film Council New Cinema Fund, Digital Outdoor, Time Out, JVC, Westbourne Studios, Workspace Group, The Electric/Soho House, The Cobden Club, The Elgin, Westway Sports Bar, The Station Tavern, Cafeteria, Connections Hammersmith, Apple Europe, Third Planet International, Golbourne United, LBC, Italian Cultural Institute, BowieArt, Seriously Vodka, ACAVA, Cartoon Network, Filmbank, Wall Of Sound, Bella Freud, Third Place/Playstation 2, Bayram Fazli, Mama Rotterdam, Don Letts, Smash, Black Eye Magazine, and all the volunteers whose hard work and dedication turned a programme into a reality.

Future Plans.

Portobello Film Festival will stream a selection of short films from this years Festival on our website with a prize going to most popular film.

Watch out for a Winter season of Family Films starting on 2 November at The Venture Centre, Wornington Road, London W10, every week at 3pm, entry Free, featuring Ice Age, The Grinch, Toy Story 2, Lilo and Stich, The Castle Of Cagliostro and Bugsy Malone.

The weekly Video Cafes will start soon with themed evenings, bring your own strands and talks from top TV and Filmmakers.

Audience Demographics
Emslie Hornimans Park/
Friday: 2000
Saturday: 4000
Sunday: 4000
Westbourne Studios: 13 X100=1300
Elgin: 6X 100=600
Cobden Launch: 150
Westway Sports Bar: 5X50=250
Electric Awards: 80
Total: 12380

Time Out, The Guardian Guide, The Times Knowledge, The Independent Information, The Observer, Kensington Times, SX Magazine, LBC-Angela Rippon & Steve Allen, London Live-The Danny Baker Show, Metro, and a feature on BBC TV News, plus numerous websites.

Jonathan Barnett 1 October 2003

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