Keswick Film Festival

Festival History

Whether you're new to the event or want to revel in remembrance of films past, former Keswick Film Club Chairman Rod Evans takes you on a journey through the past, beginning with the first ever Keswick Film Festival in 2000...

The First Keswick Film Festival 2000

Tony Martin
Tony Martin

It all started in a moment of typical enthusiasm from Keswick Film Club's founder, Tony Martin. Once we'd got the Club off the ground, and the spring 1999 season was progressing well, Tony, casting around for new challenges, said: 'well, that's looking good; perhaps we should try a festival next?' The idea was taken up enthusiastically - there were several film versions of Shakespeare plays either on release or in the offing that year , so it was a natural choice to include a strand of these, add a dash of Kieslowski (Three Colours Trilogy) and some 'Best of the Fests' and we were away...

The programming was the easy part, but a need for fund-raising was soon apparent. Beginners' luck was on our side (or perhaps more accurately, discerning funders were willing to encourage a new initiative) and those in the know were surprised and impressed to see £1000 coming our way from the BFI. With more handsome sums coming in from Awards for All (Lottery), Northern Arts (we were Newcastle-oriented in those days) and the Foundation for Sport and the Arts (as well as Allerdale, Keswick and some sponsorship) it was all as encouraging as one could have hoped.

All that was needed after that was a lot of hard work on the part of Ian Picken (Festival Co-ordinator), Chairman Tony and Secretary Rod. Spring half-term 2000 was chosen because we thought that Keswick's B & Bs needed filling at a slack time of the year (what idealism!) and the Theatre 'goes dark' through that period, so film projection can take place when the stage is undergoing maintenance.

All went well, the films were much enjoyed (by smallish audiences) and, unsurprisingly, we ended up with a healthy surplus to carry forward to 2001, thanks to the funders' generosity and the whole enterprise (apart from film projection) benefiting from volunteer labour.

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Supported by Film Hub North, led by Showroom Workstation. Proud to be part of the BFI Film Audience Network

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