Sunderland to host international film festival

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LIGHTS, camera, action – Sunderland is to host its own film festival.

International film-makers will head to the city next week to launch the Sunderland Shorts Film Festival.

The latest in a string of joint creative projects between Sunderland and Washington DC, the Sunderland Shorts Film Festival will work in tandem with the DC Shorts Film Festival in order to provide a platform for North East film-makers to showcase their work to international audiences.

The Sunderland launch event, which takes place Sunderland University’s St Peter’s campus on Friday, January 9, will feature 16 films from the DC Shorts Film Festival 2014.

In return, the best short films from next summer’s Sunderland Shorts Film Festival will be shown at the DC Festival.

Jon Gann, DC-based film-maker and programming director of the DC Shorts Film Festival, will travel to Sunderland to launch the event.

He said: “At the launch, we’ll be showing films from the best of the DC Shorts Film Festival from September 2014. There are two different shows; each show lasts about 90 minutes and shows 8-10 films from all over the world, featuring tons of different themes and subjects.

“I have programmed the launch event in such a way that it takes audiences on an emotional journey, kind of like a rollercoaster. You will see a drama and a comedy, something that is local, foreign, animation and films that are happy alongside films that are sad. But in the end, you will leave thinking wow, I have just spent 90 minutes, instead of seeing one feature film, seeing ten slices of life from all over the world.”

A number of directors will also be attending the event and taking part in a Q&A session after the screenings – giving the audience an insight into the world of film making and the thought process behind some of the shorts being screened.

One-Minute Time Machine directed by Devon Avery, which has won a host of awards including the Audience Choice Award at the DC Shorts Short Film Festival 2014, will be making its UK premiere at the Sunderland Short Film Festival launch event.

The six-minute film tells the story of nerdy scientist, James, who puts his one-minute time machine to use in an attempt to win the heart of Regina. His quest for love does not run smoothly, however, as he soon discovers that his actions have unexpected consequences.

Devon, a UK-based film-maker who will be attending the launch evening, said: “I am really looking forward to bringing my film to the Sunderland Shorts Film Festival. Much like the festival, my film is a collaboration of talent from the US and the UK, so it is somewhat fitting that Sunderland Shorts Film Festival will host the film’s UK premiere.

“Following a year of travelling to festivals all over the world with this film, I am looking forward to witnessing a British audience perspective, especially the brutal honesty and discerning taste of the North East.”

Other films that will be shown at the launch event include My Milk Cup Cow, an animation by Yantong Zhu; Love Notes by Leo Baker, Verbatim by first- time director Brett Weiner, and Lambing Season by Jeannie Donhoe.

The festival is funded by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, alongside support from Sunderland City Council.

l Film lovers can attend screenings on January 9 from 9pm and January 10 at 7pm and 9.15 pm. Tickets can be purchased from Eventbrite and the proceeds will go towards supporting the July 2015 Festival. Visit www.sunderlandshorts.co.uk.