In 1939 a group of French film buffs got together and organised an event in response to the blatant politicisation of the Venice Film Festival (at which the main award had been known as the Mussolini Cup and only film’s with a facist undertone had a chance of getting a decent review). The war meant their plans were shelved for a couple of years but in September 1946, the first Cannes Film Festival opened its doors to the early cinema community. It was a relatively modest event, but it grew quite substantially in the years that followed.
Next month Cottonmouth will be the highlight of the first Doncaster Little Film Festival ™, which still has a way to go before we see the A-Listers rolling in, but the film’s director Cal Johnson believes that the new event could help put the small South Yorkshire town on the cultural map. “I love my home-town, it’s history and it’s people,” he explains. “I get frustrated that the perception of Doncaster to the outside world is usually negative. The reality is very different. Doncaster has a wealth of creativity and talent.”
The film itself is a short feature telling the story of Andrew Grimes, a stand-up comedian who dies every night on stage and is forced to find employment in a morgue to pay his debts. Things look bleak until he meets Grace and rediscovers his touch behind the mic. Billed as darkly comic look at how success in the 21st century is taken for granted, the production values here are truly impressive, especially considering the ‘non-existent’ budget. Think 8 Mile, but with less guns and more Yorkshire accents..
Cottonmouth‘s producer Martin Bushby flew to Canada to promote the piece at the Toronto Film Festival last month, is hoping to get a spot at Cannes next spring and Bodyswerve Media – the team behind the short have submitted it to various other events around the UK. The team are planning to take it to London’s Raindance and Edinburgh Film Festival (among others) and Bushby was keen to point out that he actually did some work while living it up in Toronto..
“We hope to use this piece as a calling card to show what kind of films we can make and hopefully secure funding and collaborators for future projects, so with the who’s who of Hollywood and the cream of the UK film industry in town for the week, Toronto was the perfect arena for Cottonmouth,” he explained. “Hopefully it will help us secure some more funding for future projects..”
The Doncaster Little Film Festival ™ runs from Thursday 3rd – Saturday 5th November. See website for details