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Q&A with Derby Film Festival Director Adam Marsh

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Credit: Derby Film Festival

Despite a global pandemic, the well-established Derby Film Festival is now underway - taking place entirely online. Although film fans can't watch each film on a glorious big screen, there is still plenty for audiences to enjoy from the comfort of their own home.

IndieVisible talks to Adam Marsh, the festival's director, about what people can expect from this unique event.

Why should people buy tickets to the festival?

Firstly, you are getting two festivals for the price of one! Derby Film Festival is in its usual November timeslot but because of the first Lockdown we have had to delay our Paracinema Film Festival from its original slot in May.

Secondly, I usually answer this question by saying it is a rare opportunity to see a whole bunch of films that haven't been released yet; they are not available on Netflix or Amazon Prime and you get to experience them in a cinema with a respectful and engaged audience. Of course, in the current climate, two out of three isn't bad.

You can still get to see a wide range of feature films and short films that are not available on other streaming platforms. As we are halfway through lockdown two, people are getting Netflix fatigue - here is another option packed with rare and unusual gems. There is everything from French family dramas, retro VHS comedies and acid westerns from Columbia and Kidderminster!

What are some of the highlights for people who might not be able to watch everything?

Luz: The Flower Of Evil is an interesting Columbian acid western / horror that is heavily influenced by the filmmaking of Alejandro Jodorowsky. It's about a preacher in a remote town who has claimed to foretell the coming of a child saviour. But as the months pass and no saviour appears, his naive followers start to lose faith in him. It's unlike any film you will see this year.

The End Of Heroes is a French family drama about a young girl who believed her neighbour is a superhero because of the electronic bracelet on his ankle. She decides to befriend the grumpy man to help her find her father. A delightful drama with a great central performance from the child actor.

There is a number of short films that are unmissable. In our DFF Genre Programme, The Babysitter is a short tense horror thriller about Babysitter, alone at night, who starts to receive disturbing messages on her phone. I won't spoil it but it is far from cliche!

And we have a collection of short films called Caribbean Calling. The digital revolution in filmmaking has opened the floodgates for filmmakers and the same is true in the Caribbean. We present five short films from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Guadeloupe.

Independent films are the life blood of the industry

How has it been putting on a festival in the middle of a pandemic?

Complicated. Mainly, in navigating the online streaming technology and all that behind-the-scenes stuff. The festivals themselves are not all that different from what we would have presented to audiences in our cinema at QUAD. We open our film festivals to submissions each year and are always delighted with the breadth of talent that is out there. This year is no exception. We have really been able to focus on shining a light on these films and filmmakers this time.

DFF has a long and very successful history. How will you channel the DFF energy and culture into an online festival?

We are fortunate to have a few years under our belt where we have fostered and developed relationships with the filmmakers that have screened at our festivals in the past. These relationships are vital to help festivals grow and build their reputations. This year doubly so. We welcome films from around the country and the world and many times fans of the films are unable to make it to Derby to experience the festival. Now, they can get a taste of it online.

How important is it to promote independent films, especially at such a difficult time for the industry?

It's always important. Independent films are the life blood of the industry and too many years have gone by where they have been suffocated and kept out of cinemas and the spotlight. Now is a perfect opportunity for audiences to see and experience the wonderful talent on the independent film scene. It is a unique chance for independent films to experience an environment that isn't packed with seven or eight big budget film releases per week. They have the pitch to themselves in many ways and hopefully audiences will be more inclined to take a chance on new visions of cinema.

Check out the full Derby Film Festival programme.