12th Portobello Film Festival
1 – 21 August 2007
The Speed Of Light
We screened over 750 films this year, around 364 from
London, 135 from other parts of UK, and the rest from
all over the world: Nigeria, Iran, USA, France, Spain,
Ireland, Italy, Australia, Israel, Palestine, India,
Sri Lanka, Scandinavia, New Zealand, Columbia, Canada,
China, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Brazil, Portugal and
The biggest thrill in a high profile event packed festival
was seeing full houses for non celebrity, non special
events, like documentary nights, animation sessions,
horror and extreme cinema, London filmmakers days. That's
really why we do the Festival. These guys are making
some great movies and for some mad reason there's nowhere
else to see them. Most of the films are better than
mainstream film and TV.
Among the bigger films UK premiered were Woody Allen’s
Scoop – great seeing Woody being funny again,
Rahul Dholokia’ s controversial Hindu/Muslim clash
Parzania, and Barney Platts-Mills’ Moroccan romantic
comedy Looking For Tomorrow which kicked the festival
off to an overflowing crowd at Westbourne Grove Church.
Particularly popular was Johnny Oddball's 24 Hour Film
Challenge...our second biggest audience ever after Chris
Cunningham in 2005. We loved the Star Wars stormtrooper
security guard (against enraged losers) and the kindly
way John helped some of the filmmakers finish off their
films. Also standing room only were Julien Temple’s
Joe Strummer bio The Future Is Unwritten – reminding
us of our punk rock roots, Black Eye’s hilarious
urban satire comedy shorts, John Maybury and Molly Parkin’s
Boozing With Bacon reminiscence plus screening of Love
Is The Devil – John’s Bacon biopic with
Daniel Craig and Derek Jacobi, Filmmakers Against The
War Showcase with Michael Franti’s moving I Know
I’m Not Alone, and the music movies on the last
Saturday featuring The Godfather Of Disco and Caroline
Catz's Jesse Hector doc A Message To The World.
Masterclasses In Front
Nicky Kentish Barnes – Scoop’s producer
– and Steve Mallet – Julien Temple’s
producer - gave fascinating insights into producing
independent films at the top of the industry. Apparently
distributors are the main financiers of films and will
rarely touch anything original or risky. Woody Allen
is one of the very few independent US or UK filmmakers
who still has complete control over his work.
Greg Hall, producer of The Plague, recently aired on
BBC 2 as part of their Brit cinema season, gave a masterclass
on no budget filmmaking. Just pick up your camera and
start filming. At last an up and coming filmmaker with
integrity who started out at the Portobello Film Festival.
The film collective, supported by Matthieu Kassovitz
and Vincent Cassel from La Haine, Koutrajme from Paris
banlieu showed their angry and eloquent movie 365 Days
In Clichy Monfermeil about the 2005 riots and talked
about how the media is reluctant to confront the truth,
especially with an election approaching, how they were
tear gassed, beaten, imprisoned and had their camera
broken during filming.
The enigmatic magician Aladin gave a mad mash up of
magic, movie, art, fashion, theatre with Tunde Jegede,
Marcus Tomlinson, Ishmail from Rice N Peas, and others
called The World’s Greatest Magicians in keeping
with our 2007 Magic theme.
Paul Kieve from The Magic Circle gave a lecture on magic
in film from the Lumiere Brothers to Harry Potter (for
which he created some of the tricks).
The lovely Dawn Westlake came over from the USA and
discussed the indie scene in America.
Martin Robertson from Canada presented two nights of
his International Environmental Film Festival, Ideas
In Motion, including a follow up on the story of the
island that is literally sinking from global warming
in the South Seas.
4Docs (purveyors of those wonderful short docs after
the Channel 4 News) hosted a lively debate on the future
of short films featuring representatives of Shooting
People, BBC and Halloween.
Phil Ilson from Halloween (soon to renamed London Short
Film Festival) presented their greatest hits as did
Soho Rushes Shorts…a week after their Award Ceremony.
The State Of The Art
After previous covers from Jamie “Gorillaz”
Hewlett and Ralph “Fear And Loathing” Steadman,
this years programme cover was designed by ex-OZ Magazine
designer Richard Adams.
The courtyard outside the cinema at Westbourne Studios
was graced with specially commissioned work from Pictures
On Walls and Banksy cohorts: Inkie, Eines, Snug, Sickboy
and Zeus. This was where graffiti finally went mainstream/fine
art. Also featured was Visual Magic from Nick Reynolds,
who also did a great acoustic set with Zoe from Alabama
3, and Mark Jackson - local leading light and PFF t-shirt
On the video art tip we had some wonderful work submitted
this year including a rather gruesome film from Italy
about body piercing as an art form, and Kevin Whitney’s
fantastic 2 screen Psychedelia from the early 70s featuring
Syd Barret and attended by the Chelsea Arts Club posse
including Dougie Fields and Andrew Logan.
We premiered ITN's new score for The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari
in it's full majesty with the wonderful Westbourne Studios
360 degree sound system.
Rose Cupitt from Film London gave a talk on their Artists
Moving Image Network initiative and showed some films
featuring Ian Sinclair.
Photography was heavily promoted at the Festival with
a pronounced local slant featuring Rough Trade’s
Shoot Portobello Rock And Roll landmarks expo at Westbourne
Grove Church and Ray Roughler’s Memories Of The
Warwick Castle at the new Craze Gallery on Portobello
Road with portraits of all the usual suspects: Joe Strummer,
Mick Jones, Will Self, Andrea Oliver, Sean Oliver, Keith
and Kevin Allen, Shane McGowran, Jock Scott. Roughler
also presented an evening of film, music and karaoke
at The Inn On The Green with Roger Pomphrey’s
Who The F*** Is Pete Docherty.
Molly Parkin had a colourful and exciting show of her
paintings at The Muse Gallery which was heavily featured
in the National press.
And wonderful if controversial local art gallery Louise
T Blouin Foundation offered an exclusive 2 for 1 entry
offer in the Festival brochure.
Mixing It Up: Arts Lab
Other arts in the 2007 Magic Portobello Film Festival
mix included Theatre, Poetry, Comedy, Music, Dance &
We proudly previewed The People Show show for Edinburgh
2008 in a bus that was parked outside Westbourne Studios.
We presented the Grand Old Man of Beat Poetry Michael
Horowitz reading from his magnum opus The New Waste
Land. We had a wonderful Poetry Slam masterminded by
Tony Knock from Knockabout Comic (UK publishers of Robert
Crumb and Alan Moore) at The Inn On The Green.
Courttia Newland curated a spellbinding evening of African
storytelling The Sarungano Sessions at The Inn with
Sharmilla Chauhan, ShortMan, Patricia Fraser and Dorothea
Smart. Ken Campbell previewed his 2007 Edinburgh show.
BBC2 Culture Show comedy fave Ted Chippington and sexgod
and musical genius Earl Okim had them rolling in the
aisles at The Inn, where on another occasion JC from
The Members regaled us with one off musical history
of Portobello Road and Lepke from DBC proved he is still
the best DJ in town with the sweetest old school reggae.
The Magic theme was held together by members from the
Inner Circle of The Magic Circle - Michael Vincent,
Nigel Mead, Adam Keisner and the great Richard McDougall
(who has performed for the Queen and the late Queen
Mother) - with close up magic at the opening gala and
a special show at the Inn On The Green on the last night.
Admission to all events at the Portobello Magic Film
Festival was free.