Whitley Bay film festival sets sail for finale

A film festival is sailing into uncharted waters, inviting movie lovers to take to the seas

Whitley Bay Film Festival and Film Cruise to Amsterdam
Whitley Bay Film Festival and Film Cruise to Amsterdam

On Thursday, the credits will roll on this year’s Whitley Bay Film Festival - now in its fourth year and winner of the Best Event Tyneside at The Journal Culture Awards 2012.

But not before the event’s inaugural Film Cruise, which will leave North Shields for Amsterdam on Tuesday. Both outward and return journeys will be soaked in cinematic experiences, although some of the two-day screening programme remains under wraps.

“The Secret Cinema screenings are always the most popular,” says deputy festival director, Simon Fitzpatrick of the events which require the solving of clues to discover what will be shown.

“So they won’t know what’s going to be shown until they get on board. People seem to enjoy that element.”

I’m guessing it won’t be Titantic or the Poseidon Adventure... although you never know with WBFF, its debut outing in 2010 included a beach-screening of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws.

“We’re always looking to do something different each year,” he laughs, “and when we approached DFDS to do this, they were really great about it and have continued to be so.”

As well as a welcome party and the aforementioned Secret Cinema, the ship trip will also include a screening of Richard Curtis’ The Boat That Rocked - including live music from a 60s beat band - and the neatly-named Whitley Bay Film Festival Comprestival, which will offer a one-stop concentrated version of all that has been great throughout this year’s event.

Kicking off on August 16 with a 40s-theme Moroccan gala featuring the 1942 classic Casablanca, the festival - which doesn’t let the fact its namesake doesn’t have a cinema deter it one jot - has lived up to its promise of being the biggest and best yet.

The Dome has once again been a central and iconic point of the action, sometimes showing up to five films at a time, meanwhile the Rendezvous Cafe, which made its debut as a venue last year will show the last on-land film, Amelie this evening.

When the big ship returns to North Shields on Thursday, there will have been 35 screenings in all, as well as a programme of music, art and food appreciation.

The innovative Arthouses programme will see 12 houses in the town’s Victoria Avenue (and a few others besides) transformed into public galleries between the hours of 6pm and 9pm today and tomorrow, offering another side to the festival, which makes no apologies for its populist screening programme.

Kes, Withnail and I, Terminator, Vertigo, The Dark Knight, SAW, Midnight Cowboy and Kick-Ass are among the crowd-pullers which have been enjoyed.

Simon says the team, who have all been “privileged” to stay on the Spanish City site for the duration of the Festival, were spurred to make this year’s festival the best yet by their Culture Award triumph in the spring. “We were late getting started,” he says, “but winning the Culture Award was so amazing, we thought ‘we have to get cracking and live up to it’.” Delighted to be of service.

For more information, visit www.whitleybayfilmfestival.co.uk

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