Oct 25 2012 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
A CAPTIVATING story about a Romanian princess and a spoof about carers were joint winners at last year’s film festival in Queen’s Park, as the judges could not decide between the two.
This says less about their indecision rather than it does about the quality of films entered in the In Short: 5 Minutes at the Lexi competition, which is designed to encouraged film makers from the area to pick up their cameras or dig out old classics.
Jessica Wolpert, Helen Dunford and Marina Cantacuzino, all from the Queen’s Park area, set up No Voyeurs Production, which hosts the film festival that is in its third year, after taking place for the first time in one of the organiser’s living rooms.
Last year, the competition moved to the Lexi Cinema in Kensal Rise, where the interior was designed to look like a living room. The Lexi is hosting the festival again this year.
The organisers wanted people in Queen’s Park and the surrounding area to have an opportunity to see great films and be inspired to make them. None of them are involved in the film industry, but have always had a strong interest in the silver screen and they are now helped by Katharine Daish, an intern with In Short.
Jessica said: “We had a really good response last year.
“There were quite a few teenagers, some middle-aged people and some professional film makers and some who had never made films before.
“It came about after we were talking about how much local talent there was and people don’t have the opportunity to show them, so we thought, ‘why don’t we do it ourselves?’.”
More than 40 films were submitted last year, 15 of which made the shortlist, and they are hoping for the same enthusiastic response this year.
The two winning films were shown for a week each at the Lexi.
Jessica, 46, added: “We thought all the films were amazing, and the winner gets to be shown at the Lexi for a week.”
The winners last year were The Forgotten Carers by Matthew Wolpert and Simon Dobson, a comedy spoof about people caring for each other in the community, and Muna by Sue Rae, which tells the story of a Romanian princess who fled her home before the Second World War.
Sue said her film would have been left forgotten in a cupboard for another 30 years if she had not been encouraged to submit it.
The five-minute film was made 27 years ago, as part of an application to get into the National Film School. Sue unfortunately did not make the cut and went into property instead – until now she had not known what to do with the film.
The 57-year-old, who now lives in Birmingham, said: “It’s about a Romanian princess who was very much part of the aristocracy. She got married to a man who was an architect and painter and when World War Two started she decided to leave Romania because it was so dangerous and they had all their land confiscated.
“She left with her children, a son and a daughter, and came to England. Her husband was supposed to come and meet them here but he never arrived.”
Sue, who was born in Maida Vale, is friends with Marina Cantacuzino, granddaughter of the Romanian Princess Cantacuzino, who used to take her on visits to see her royal grandmother in Kent before she died.
She said: “It was a real shock to win. The film had never been seen in public before and I think it would have just been left in a cupboard if it hadn’t been chosen.”
Sue is not submitting a film this year, but said she is working on another one about a gay friend who has always wanted to be a woman.
The judges this year will be members of the film-making community and experts in their field, Sarah Golding, Alex Reuben, Tim Conrad, Rob Watson and Alix Wilton Regan.
Jessica said that not only does the festival give people in Brent, or people with connections to the area, an opportunity to show their films, but also to meet other filmmakers and receive valuable feedback on what they have made.
This year they held a workshop with some of the judges, who gave advice and direction to people curious about the process.
Jessica said: “I was surprised by the number of people it attracted.
“I now have an email list with more than 70 people on in the area who are interested, so there is definitely a lot of people out there.
“I think in any area there are people who want to be creative and don’t always have the opportunities to show it.”
The deadline for submission has been extended to November 15 and the only requirement is that the films are less than five minutes long. Visit to www.inshort.org.uk for details.
The screenings of all the films on the short list will be on Saturday, November 18, from 2pm to 5pm, at the Lexi in Chamberlayne Road, Kensal Rise.