Podcast. Portobello Film Festival
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Hello, I’m Callum Robertson and this is Entertainment. Our topic today is
films and film festivals. You may have heard of the Venice Film Festival and
the Cannes Film Festival, glamorous occasions with A-list celebrities from the
movie world turning out to promote their latest projects. A festival you might
not know is the Portobello Film Festival which is currently taking place in
Portobello an area of West London. It’s had its own independent film festival
for a number of years and to learn more about it I spoke to the festival’s
director Jonathan Barnett. I first asked him when and how it started.
Jonathan Barnett
Well it started in 1996 because even back in those days there were people making very low
budget films often using video equipment and there wasn’t really anywhere for them to show
their films so we thought it would be nice to provide a platform for these filmmakers. We had
the mad idea at the time of showing every film that was submitted and we also decided not to
charge because I suppose at heart we weren’t rabid capitalists.
Callum: It started in 1996 as a way of giving independent filmmakers somewhere to
show their films. As Jonathan said, to give them a platform. These films he
described as low-budget films which means they were made without very
much money. He also talked about their policy on which films to show in the
festival. He uses the word submitted, the past participle of the verb ‘to submit’.
In this case it means to send in. People send in or submit films to the festival
organisers hoping they will be part of the festival. Which films does Jonathan
say they show and how much do the filmmakers have to pay to submit their
films? Listen again.
Jonathan Barnett
We had the mad idea at the time of showing every film that was submitted and we also
decided not to charge because I suppose at heart we weren’t rabid capitalists.
Callum: Jonathan says that they show every film that is submitted. They also decided
not to charge. So it’s free for filmmakers to submit their films and it’s also free
for people to go and see the films during the. This he describes as a ‘mad idea’
but he explains it by saying that they are not ‘rabid capitalists’ which means
they are not doing it to make money. After hearing this I wondered just how
many films are being shown and where they do get the money from to run the
festival. Listen out for that information. How many films are being shown and
how do they manage to pay for it? He mentions some sources of funding from
different organisations, but what else does he mention is a financial support?
Jonathan Barnett
This year we’re showing 700 films. The money comes in from funding, we get money from
people like Film London and the Arts Council and also we get a lot of ‘in kind’ support from
sponsors. So we don’t have to pay for advertising, we don’t have to pay for launch parties, we
don’t have to pay for prizes.
Callum: 700 films are being shown this year and as well as receiving money from
different arts and local organisations the festival gets ‘in kind’ support from
sponsors. This means that sponsors of the festival get publicity from their
involvement with it and therefore don’t charge for the goods and services they
Over the first three weeks of August 700 films are being shown as part of the
Portobello Film Festival. What kind of films can be seen? Are they just short
student films or does the festival attract big names as well? Here’s festival
director Jonathan Barnett.
Jonathan Barnett
The actual films we’re showing are a lot better than anything you’ll see mostly on the tele or
in the multiplexes and it’s everything from student films and we also get stuff from top
filmmakers like, for instance, John Malkovich. So I think because we’re a festival that has a
reputation for a certain amount of integrity and also being a little bit out on a limb we attract
the big names as well as people who are just starting out. The first year of the festival we had
Guy Ritchie’s first film which was called the Hard Case, which was fantastic, it’s exactly the
same as Lock Stock and Snatch but he was kind of formulating his ideas and it was a short
Callum: Jonathan believes there is a very high quality of films from new student
filmmakers to established and well-known artists such a John Malkovich. He
also mentioned the British director Guy Ritchie who had international success
with the films Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. In the
festival’s first year Ritchie submitted a short film called Hard Case which
Jonathan said was fantastic, and it showed Ritchie formulating or developing
the ideas that he would later use in those mainstream films. The Portobello
Film Festival runs until the 21 of August and as well as films there are other
arts events as well. Jonathan wants the festival to be more than just for film.
Jonathan Barnett
Yes, what we want it to be is, we want it to be a bit like a kind of cross between Glastonbury
and Edinburgh, but for free and set in Portobello Road.
Callum: They would like it to become a big arts festival, something like the huge
Glastonbury music festival and the Edinburgh international arts festival, only
free and set in Portobello Road.