The second New Cross and Deptford Free Film Festival is bringing cinematic experiences to venues across Lewisham this week. The festival will be screening a diverse program of free films for residents and visiting film buffs.
Local residents started the festival last year, making it the fourth in a similar series of events organised by the south east London community group Free Film Festivals.
Despite being a non-profit event, the group has managed to set up 26 screenings topping the 20 films shown last year.
New to the festival this year is the presence of B movies, like Them — a 1950s sci-fi thriller about giant killer ants being shown at The King of Hearts Tattoo Parlour, and The House on Telegraph Hill shown at the venue on Telegraph Hill.
One of the coordinators for the festival, Andrew Clarke, said any donations collected at this year’s festival is going to help bring film back to the borough.
“Part of the funding that was got from the two outdoor events was also meant to go to community organisations to buy a screen and projector so they can put on their own events,” Clarke said.
This year’s festival kicked off 26 April with the screening of City Slacker, a romantic comedy that was partly filmed in Deptford. The film’s writer and producer Michael Müller, a former Hackney resident, did not know much about the area before his team started filming there, but said that there were challenges and advantages to shooting in Deptford.
“In our film there’s a hell of a lot of extraneous sound,” Müller said, “which I actually like. You know when you’re on the street you can hear a taxi brake squeaking even though you can’t see the taxi. It’s an urban sound and I think it works very well, but we had to do a lot of work to make the dialogue stand out above all the extraneous noise.”
Müller said he “loved the ethos of [the festival]”, particularly the eclectic mix of films and locations used for screenings.
“We had a full house in the back of what I think is an old, converted lorry,” he said. “I’ve never even seen a film in a location like that, let alone had my own film playing there.”
As one of only two Boroughs in London without a cinema, Lewisham is not short of people looking for an affordable film experience. East London Lines talked to locals at the opening night.
Viktor, 19, a New Cross resident had not heard of the festival before the opening night and felt it might be lacking exposure.
“I think it’s a really good idea,” he said, “but it should maybe be more advertised.”
South east London resident Sasha, 28, said he recognizes the value of keeping a low profile on local events.
“Part of the charm is that it’s under the radar,” he said. “That makes the fun of discovering it more interesting. You wouldn’t want people from all over London coming here necessarily.”
Pointing out that events like these must be “accessible, but not too accessible”, he also sees the festival as a local asset worth investing in.
“As residents we can invest in these things,” he said. “I’d gladly pay the price of a beer if that means we can have this sort of thing.”
The free films will continue to court moviegoers in south London throughout all of May at Free Film Festivals other events.
For full listings and more details about the New Cross and Deptford Free Film Festival, click here.
Listen below to hear what locals hope to see at this year’s festival.