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The Comedy of Errors

Nottingham International Film Festival 2021 to “Champion Young British Talent,” Says Director Neil Jeram-Croft

21 September 21 words: Aaron Roe

2021 sees the return of an in-person cinema experience for Nottingham International Film Festival. Aaron Roe sits down with festival director Neil Jeram-Croft to get the lowdown on the event...

What do you think are the key things we’ve been missing while cinemas have been closed?
Having that communal experience, and having people around you react to the film in the same way you are, or in different ways – just being part of that is what we’ve really missed. With our short films, it’s the first time any of them have seen their film in the cinema. They might think a certain bit in their film is really funny or really provocative, but in a cinema, people are suddenly laughing or gasping at a different bit. You get feedback from an audience which you can’t get sat in your lounge. 

What is special about this year’s NOTTIFF line-up, and why should people come to the festival?
I think one of the things we’ve really tried to focus on this year is championing young British talent – two of our feature-length films and over half of the shorts are from British directors. We’ve got a really strong line-up, and we should have some really good director Q&As. It’s just a chance to see something completely different, especially with the short films, where you get so many different stories and voices within an hour and a half. Seeing the British talent out there making independent films is fantastic, and whilst you’re watching it, you could be thinking about what to ask the director afterwards.

Are there any common themes between the films, or have you opted for as much diversity as possible?
There’s a couple of lockdown shorts that focus on the past year – we’ve all lived through it, so that was always going to come out. Generally, the line-up is pretty diverse with what we’re showing. With the shorts, there’s comedy, drama, horror, animation – basically everything is in there.

We can't welcome as many people as we would like, but we will make the most of it

How far will NOTTIFF showcase local talent?
We want to showcase local talent as much as possible, and it’s something we really want to do more of moving forward. I’ve taken more of a programming role as well as an operations role, so it's something we really want to push more and more – but I don’t know if there are any specific Nottinghamshire filmmakers this year.

How far have you preserved the festival as a communal space post-Covid?
We’re gonna have to see how that works. Normally, we have filmmakers who travel from all over the world. Unfortunately, this year, none of the international filmmakers will be attending. But we’ll make sure to go for a few drinks afterwards, and we have the Q&As with the British filmmakers to still keep that communal atmosphere. We can't welcome as many people as we would like, but we will make the most of it.

Other than Manchester and Nottingham, are there any other UK cities that you’ve looked at to host a festival?
I’ve previously been involved with festivals in Liverpool and Oxford, but now I'm just in charge of Manchester and Nottingham – so no, no other plans. I want to focus on making those two as fantastic as I can and growing them each year.

Nottingham International Film Festival is taking place between Friday 24 September - Sunday 26 September at the Savoy Cinema

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