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Ambleside film festival set to be annual event

Zeffirellis cinema

Plans are under way for the second Ambleside film festival which the organisers now aim to make an annual event.

The Inward Eye film festival was staged last autumn at Zeffirellis, showing 64 award-winning films in a packed three-day programme.

The 2020 festival will bring together emerging and experienced filmmakers and enthusiasts from the surrounding local areas, as well as the wider UK and international arenas.

Organised by Zeffirellis in association with Hopscotch films, and Wordsworth’s home at Rydal Mount, the Inward Eye was first suggested by the actor Brian Cox on a visit to Ambleside for a personal appearance a few years ago. Charlotte Wontner of Hopscotch films, who helped set up the festival last year, is a descendant of William Wordsworth, and first introduced Brian Cox to Rydal Mount.

He’s now the patron of the IEFF, though last year he was filming in the USA during the event; the celebrity talk was given by the actor Tom Conti.

Tom Conti

The festival’s name, ‘inward eye’, is reference to the line in final verse of Wordsworth’s most famous poem Daffodils. “They flash upon that inward eye which is the bliss of solitude”. “This line expresses the power of memory, imagination, dreams and vision,” said Dorothy Smith, MD of Zeffirellis. “It feels fitting that a festival focusing on the power of creativity in storytelling should use this wording and the image it conjures in the mind.”

The Wordsworth family, who still own Rydal Mount, will host another three-day script writing workshop alongside the film festival. This will be run by script editor Vicki Jung (BFI, BBC Films, Film Council) to bring expert advice to emerging writers with exciting new projects.

Dorothy Smith

The festival’s aim, says Dorothy Smith, is to reach out to the local community and form new bonds with an audience who may not have connected yet to cinema. “Last year we targeted the 16-30 audience, who were able to enjoy films across the thriller, music, horror and documentary genres during the festival,” said Dorothy.

“We also selected many outstanding films that were later nominated or won BAFTAs and Academy Awards in 2020, including Bait, For Sama, Honeyland and The biggest little farm. We intend to build on that legacy and impact this year.”

Inward Eye 2020 will have thematic strands for each day of the programme, including Love and War, Youth and Fear, Time and Landscape. There will also be a ‘Flashback’ focus, screening films from previous decades with a literary twist, and a retrospective look at the filmmakers behind them.

The festival venue, Zeffirellis, is now in its 40th year and has been owned by the same family all that time. Its restaurants, Zeffs and Fellinis, have just won an “outstanding” award and also listed in the top twenty vegetarian/vegan restaurants in the country.

INWARD EYE FILM FESTIVAL – November 5-7, 2020 — Zeffirellis Cinema, Ambleside