Portobello Film & Video Festival 1998
Attendance monitored by the bouncers clickometers was around 5000.

The Festival (all admissions and film submissions free) kicked off with the popular Video Cafe at the Venture Centre, Wornington Road. This is for film makers who have missed the deadline to bring their work along and show it on the day. It is a sociable, freestyle event and attracted a thousand people over two days in a geographically obscure venue. One film, "Cuddles" by Merlin Massaura, even made it to the Golden Boot Competition, and with two screens the programme was further brightened by previous years hits, Massive Videos recent work with disadvantaged kids, and some rare early Shane Twentyfourseven Meadows shorts. The real meat of the festival was three days at Subterrania, a local nightclub that we converted into three cinemas using blackout and soundprooofing material. We had no technical difficulties in showing 250 new films in three cinemas over three days all bang on schedule. So apart from the wonders on offer to the general public, the festival was something of a feast for new film-makers to meet, show and compare their work, get new ideas, network and enjoy themselves.

We feel we achieved much in those three days for the future of British and London film. In addition to the films submitted we also presented local poets Jock Scott and Selina Saliva, authors reading live from the accliaimed Disco2000 compilation, DJs and VJs mixing sound and pictures-a new art form as yet in its infancy: the VJ Convention, a session of local films including extracts with commentary from Tom Vague, of everything from Bedknobs & Broomsticks to Performance, to a discussion about Art Or Porn?

Overall the technical quality of the submissions was higher than previous years. A case of practise making perfect for the growing army of independent film-makers liberated by the arrival of the camcorder and cheap technology. Filmmaking is the new rock and roll. Perhaps the greatest fun was moving between the three cinemas, channel hopping as it were. The film-makers represented a global cross section but mostly from London as our main appeal for films goes out in Time Out.

The Festival Grand Finale was at the magnificently restored Tabernacle. In the afternoon we concentrated on local films by YCTV, NKVDP and Massive Videos on the main screen with talks and workshops for young film-makers. We had a kids circus from Albert & Friends. We showed Jacques Tati's Jour De Fete for all the family. We presented the latest animation, experimental and Video Art on a second screen upstairs which was surprisingly popular including work from the Royal College of Art and alternative news agency,Undercurrents.

In the evening Andrew Borge of Dr.Martens presented the Golden Boot Award, selected by votes and festival projectionists; the winner decided in a clapometer ceremony MCed by Dr. Stewart. Short listed nominees included hip London gangster epics (always a favourite theme for audience and directors alike) Blood Brothers and Snap, the dark Panico comedy Hammerman,17 year old Massive trainee Kae Iden's Da Baby Fada, Goldiggaz, a pop video from New York, and the eventual winner Marie Pascou's moody handmade animation Un Jour.

The evening continued with Golden Boot nominees from 1996 and 1997, and closed with Don Letts' Audio Visual Bashment, a kaleidscope of fast cut images and state of the art dub previously only seen at the ICA. A thousand people attended over the whole day. On the following day, we wound the festival down at the North Pole pub/ restaurant, with higher budget films from local production houses including Portobello Pictures' Toy Boy, Illuminated Films' wonderful animated dramatic art deco puzzle Transit, and Mike Hakarta's local full length feature In A Blue Room (made for 4,000 and looking like 4,000,000). Some 500 film fans attended, bringing our total bums on seats to 7,500.