The New Cross + Deptford Free Film Festival – photos and words by a volunteer

You wouldn’t believe how much fun it was to be involved with this year’s New Cross + Deptford Free Film Festival.

Re-phrase.  If you attended the outdoor screening in Telegraph Hill Upper Park of Grease, you might believe how much fun it was to be involved with this year’s New Cross + Deptford Free Film Festival.

Hundreds of people (really) squished into the park, reciting words, singing lyrics, doing actions, some dressed up, some chomping on jerk chicken and many drinking booze and/or hot chocolate. Some pedalling bikes to power the film. And all watching the free screening of Grease.

It’s not even two weeks since it all ended and it feels a bit like a dream. A dream full of kind, clement weather, days and evenings crammed with FREE events, screenings to cater for most tastes and events in some venues I never even knew were there.

I decided to volunteer at this year’s Festival without knowing how or if I could be useful. I went to each meeting and was reminded on a monthly basis that I knew nothing about putting on a film festival and was bringing absolutely nothing to the (pub) table. But gradually I realised what my job would be: social media.  It’s fair to say I have sent a few tweets before, but as myself, never on behalf of a ‘thing’ before.  Luckily I had a communications ‘guru’ on hand to teach me some very exciting stuff about how to do it (thank you Ken!).  I like to think that our word spreading helped to spread the word.  Rumour even had it that audiences came from OTHER PARTS of London. From the East and even WEST sides.  (OK I will let Time Out London and Londonist have a shout out in this – big thanks to them for their support).

I won’t waffle on.  There are more than enough photos to tell the tale.  However I will just say that the freedom given to all participants to show whatever they wanted gave this festival its heart. No censorship, no limitations, just advice, support, encouragement and help.  All for free, of course.

Below are photos from some of the screenings which I attended. There are a couple in there which I didn’t take, including the very last one from up a tree at Grease (more below).

Supermen of Malegaon – opening event in a container at the Big Red Pizza

What a start. Two packed screenings of warm, touching film Supermen of Malegaon about a community’s passion for film, a documentary which ended by screening its film to the townspeople in a small dark space much like the container where we (townspeople) were sitting.  The Big Red Pizza did the start of our Festival proud.  Perfect location, pizza, beer, free heartwarming cinema. No wonder we had queues of people jostling for space to crouch or sit down, and then afterwards to give their happy feedback on post-it notes.

Attack the Block – outdoor & DJ & bicycle powered in Fordham Park

On our first ‘Super Saturday’ we totally went for it with 6 wildly varying events. Quite a feat to choose which to attend. My vote went to Fordham Park for the bike powered outdoor screening of Attack the Block, complete with DJ set.  The turnout was great and the film went down brilliantly. Volunteers kept the power going by pedalling on the bikes rigged up by Electric Pedals.  Just a couple of days later, the protagonist Moses (John Boyega) was named as a cast member of Star Wars Episode VII. Big up South London!

The Hustler – screened at former cinema Shades Pool Hall while players carried on playing around us

I can’t explain how brilliant it was to watch a film of this calibre, set in the world of pool playing, whilst sitting in a pool hall ourselves, and hearing the sound of the balls hitting each other in the background. I had also forgotten how totally handsome Paul Newman is in this 1961 classic. It was a joy to walk into this venue on the High Street, which looks like a bog standard sports bar from the outside, and find this spacious cool interior full of green baize and serious looking players inside.  Funnily enough, Shades started its days as a cinema in 1910 and remained as one until 1954.  Thank you to Ingrid Projects Film Club for this gem of an evening.

O Brother Where Art Thou? – live music in the cells in the Old Deptford Police Station & free ice-cream & free popcorn & free beer

Not only did we get a free screening of this enjoyable crowd pleaser in an unusual place (the former police station in Deptford), but we had live music in the cells beforehand and very generous helpings of Jude’s ice-cream (most delicious), Warsteiner beer (most refreshing) and Propercorn popcorn (so right when watching a film).  All for free.  You don’t usually get all that thrown in down the local Odeon.  This was a fab evening put on by Salt and Pepper Cinema, I can’t wait for their next extravaganza.

Grease – outdoors & bicycle powered & all still for free

Massive thanks again to Colin Tonks and Electric Pedals for this one. It is Colin who you see up a tree in the photos and it is Colin’s photo at the end (taken from that tree) of the whole wonderful experience.  Many more beautiful pictures on their Facebook and Twitter profiles (details below).

With my pictures I tried to tell the story of the whole set up of the event from the early evening onwards.  It’s a fair amount of work. I say it was worth it. What do you think?  You can also see just how many people came (we estimate up to 800).  Can you see yourself?  Please do leave a comment if you want to, and not just to request a toilet next year. It is already on the list!

 

As well as the above, and to name just a few, were intellectual discussions around statelessness, octogenarian ping pong players, a Vietnamese film shown outdoors on real 16mm film reels, premieres by local filmakers, The Harder They Come shown from inside Honey’s, the Caribbean takeaway shop, and (drum roll) a real life appearance and discussion with director Ken Loach after the screening of his film Spirit of 45 at New Cross Learning.  For an interview with Ken Loach and other good stuff about the Festival, you can listen to the South London Hardcore podcast at their website or on iTunes.

I waffled on like I said I wasn’t going to.  Hope you enjoyed the pictures anyway… if you got this far you deserve an orange bucket with the NXDFFF logo on it.

To avoid missing anything next year, keep up with the Festival on Facebook or Twitter.

You can also find out about all the amazing human powered events devised by Electric Pedals on Facebook or Twitter.

Big thanks go to Lewisham Council for some of the funds and to our cousins at Free Film Festivals for the support and encouragement.

You can be sure the New Cross + Deptford Free Film Festival will be back in 2015 and boy I hope they let me help out again.

 

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