Marion Cotillard and her starring role in Bedford Film Festival

Marion Cotillard

Marion Cotillard and her starring role in Bedford Film Festival

French actress Marion Cotillard may never know how much of a catalyst she was for getting Bedford Film Festival into a working idea.

We’d often wondered why the film variety in Bedford was so poor. We’re not all film fanatics or experts and we controversially enjoy Hollywood blockbusters but we’d also like to see a variety of genres. We’d spoken to the hard-working staff at our local Cineworld a number of times, both publicly and privately, about the lack of genre variety and as with all chain businesses, local choice is usually dictated by a far away head office. During these conversations we developed a good online relationship with Ben Smith.

A true film fan, Ben sympathised with the frustration other film fans in the town had and promised to help as much as possible.

A few months passed and out of the blue we received this tweet.

Rust and Bone Tweet


You can read the full story of what happened next here. However, the main result was that it showed there was a desire to show a wider variety of films in the town. Of course the Bedford Film Society already do sterling work with this, showing a number of films throughout the year, but what about something more? What about an event that could be even more accessible and could also encourage young film makers and local film fans to really get involved with film variety? Why not host our own film festival?

It seems like common sense and so we contacted Bedford community champion Kayte Judge (TedXBedford, We are Bedford, Cash Mobbing) to ask her thoughts. She was very encouraging and set us on the right track, ensuring we were organising this for the right reasons and that the right people were involved. Since then we’ve had further encouraging support from Erica Roffe (The Bedford Clanger, We are Bedford, #CitizenBedford), James Pharaoh (Bedfringe), Naomi Barnwell (Movie Farm) and a whole host of other local people who love the idea of a film festival in our town.

So what next? Well we have some plans for the summer which we’ll announce in more detail soon but the festival itself will happen in September 2013. To manage your expectations it won’t be a huge event. We need to start small to make sure we learn how to deliver a festival of quality and strong foundations are laid for a long-lasting event. We do also want to stick to some core values which will be based on the following:

  • We want to involve local people, after all the festival is for them, they may have a chance to choose some of the films we show.
  • We want to celebrate local talent. We hope to work with local film makers of all ages, styles and experience. We want to give them a chance to show their work to a wider audience.
  • We want to give all local venues and businesses the chance to be part of the festival. We don’t want ‘obvious’ venues to be the only options for screenings. The quirky, different, and small venues should add as much variety and fun to the festival as the films themselves.
  • We want to support and encourage other community groups to host screenings at anytime. Already the likes of Bedford Creative Arts show films as part of their programme and BeLGBT and Happiness Matters have also hosted screenings, we’d like to see more. Bedford Film Festival will not just be about the films we show, we’re also about supporting film screenings in the town everywhere.
  • Our film choice will be varied. We may show mainstream cinema, we may show an unheard of foreign short film. There will be no rules to our choices other than that they must be as varied as the tastes of those who will come and see them.

As time goes on we hope the festival will evolve, will attract more people, and will truly reflect the desire of people in Bedford to support film variety. Please do watch out for future news and if you want to be involved either as a venue, volunteer and most importantly a film maker, then please do get in touch.

Follow Bedford Film Festival on Twitter @BedfordFilmFest.

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Photo credit: Lucie_Ottobruc