Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Salfordians want this Festival …and deserve this Festival…

By Mike Knowles, co-founder of the Salford Film Festival and director of Made Up North Productions

I am passionate about the Salford Film Festival. It originally grew out of our short film Talking With Angels. Yousaf Ali Khan and I were keen to put something back into the community where we both worked and where he had grown up (and which had inspired his film). With this in mind we put together an initial training programme around the film and, growing a little more ambitious (and with a view to focusing attention on the region), a festival. That first festival’s success, with over 4000 people attending, was phenomenal and moving, and beyond our wildest expectations. This was something unique and special.

Whilst the broad support for the festival was evident from the first (from both the public and the powers that be), our key aim was always that the event would continue, without the founders if necessary, and take its place and develop from within the community. The focus, therefore, for the second year was simple: to have one member of staff in place to scope the filmmaking activity in the region and to plan for a festival which would highlight this work: showcasing Salford as a centre of excellence and also building links with London, Europe and beyond.

Unfortunately despite jumping through numerous hoops, meeting the great and good and having business plans coming out of our ears, this (financial) support was not forthcoming and, once again, we had to call on favours to make the festival happen. Once again, the people of Salford responded in the droves and voted with their feet (over 4000 people in attendance).

We are now in the fourth year of the festival and, to put it simply, have run out of favours to keep this going. (We are also very very tired and have our real jobs to do!). However, personally I would still love to be a part of a festival which expands to reflect the growth of the city and develops to incorporate TV (and digital) in the wake of the BBC’s planned arrival, but keeps the community heart.

I would still like to think this support is out there but after all this time you do begin to lose faith. I am however a born optimist (a City fan you see) and hope that, in true Hollywood fashion there is a fairy god person out there who will help rekindle the festival and harness the goodwill, energy and vision that remain. And give the people of Salford the festival they so clearly want and truly deserve.


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