Local volunteers make sure film festival will go ahead

Volunteers behind a film festival are making sure local film fans don’t miss out this September, despite the challenges of the coronavirus crisis.

Peckham and Nunhead Free Film Festival has brought free community cinema, open to everyone, to SE15 every September since 2010.

Its volunteer organisers, who all live in the area, are determined to continue the tradition even if Covid-19 restrictions mean the festival will look very different this year.

The volunteers have spent months working out the safest way to bring free movies and film-related content to the local community.

As they’re not able to stage events in their usual eclectic mix of indoor and outdoor venues the 2020 festival will be mainly online.

But the volunteers have said the festival programme will be as diverse as ever.

“It’s strange to think that just last year we were celebrating our 10th annual festival and attracting big crowds to screenings in places like the Old Waiting Room at Peckham Station and Nunhead Cemetery,” said joint co-ordinator Ann Lazim. “The world has become a very different place since then. We may not be able to bring people together at physical events this year, but we can still offer lots of wonderful shared experiences, with online screenings, workshops and special Q&A sessions.”

Festival co-founder Howard Francis said: “What’s great is that this year’s programme really reflects how the world has changed through lockdown with communities working together and the Black Lives Matter protests around the globe – including in Peckham.

“New entertainment concepts have developed and diverse film groups within and around SE15 are creating brilliant material.”

Usually event organisers meet up from February and programme the festival by matching films with venues around SE15.

Co-ordinator Neal Browne said: “We’re not usually an online screening festival so it’s been a steep learning curve figuring out what we’re able to do and how to shape this year’s event.

“Especially as, like everyone else, our volunteers have faced work and personal challenges over the last six months.”


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