The New Hastings film festival aspires to be the Cannes of the future

It will take place from April 22-24 at St Mary in the Castle and Electric Palace, an ambitious project, says founder James Rowlins.

“The festival celebrates local film talent: dozens of local filmmakers and films shot in hastings – with a focus on the esoteric (ie horror films), for which St Mary is the perfect place.”

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Full details are at www.rocksfestivals.com/hriff

james rowlins

“Film festivals involve a certain kind of madness (logistics, etc.), but also magic: the magic of cinema. In short, I am a fan of independent cinema and I am crazy about film festivals!

“I discovered independent film while studying in Paris and later won a scholarship to study film at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Rather than seek out lectures, though, I tended to jump in to attend some of the thousands of film festivals held annually in Los Angeles, which was a great kind of education.

“As a lecturer I organized mini film festival competitions on campus, and these became local institutions. But he also aspired to make an impact in the real world or in the industry. I started up Brighton Rocks Film Festival five years ago. It started small but has gone from strength to strength.

“I chose Brighton because it is a mecca for free-spirited creatives from all walks of life. It’s incredibly rewarding to provide a platform for kids (filmmakers are often young or at least young at heart) and share in that excitement when they get together and the thrill of seeing their work on the big screen.

“The festival showcases a wide range of independent talent, but mostly films that deviate from the mainstream by offering some kind of alternative way of looking at the world, either in a different time/place or from a genre point of view. , sexuality, race. etc

“I moved to Hastings three years ago and quickly started creating a sister event. Unfortunately, the pandemic delayed this, but it also presented us with the opportunity to carefully develop the identity of the festival.

“We decided that Hastings Rocks should focus on esoteric films in keeping with the town’s history and heritage (the infamous witches and ghosts, the Jack the Ripper connection, Aleister Crowley, the faded Gothic architecture, etc.) as well as films made by local filmmakers. -makers and/or shooting in Hastings.

“Our venues (St Mary in the Castle and Electric Palace) have been very supportive in helping us launch the festival and in turn we look forward to helping them with their post-Covid restart.

“We want to encourage people to get out of their comfort zone and watch something different than what they usually watch on the weekends, whether it’s an LGBTQIA+ documentary or an experimental horror movie. Above all, we hope that local residents and visiting filmmakers will forge connections and be inspired by the films they see. We have filmmakers who come from Canada US and US to feature feature films (eg Camping Trip and Skagit on Friday 22nd April), so we hope you’ll get a warm welcome from Hastings moviegoers.

“We also hope that this will be the first of many annual festivals and that over time we will gain international recognition such as Cannes, Berlin and Sundance. One day people will talk about the winners of the Hastings Rocks Film Festival and this recognition will help independent filmmakers in a market where blockbusters unfortunately still reign supreme.”

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