Immersive Cinema: Maelstrom is a film festival taking place next week at St Mary’s Creative space. The festival has been organised by a group of 16-24 year old film fans who make up the Storyhouse division of the Young Film Programmers Network (YFPN). I met up with some members of the team to find out more about the “maelstrom” and what to expect at the events.
None of the group knew each other prior to joining the project as team member Tom Meadows explained : ” I saw an ad on facebook and I was quite familiar with Storyhouse from the moonlight flicks and the theatre in the park and the opportunity sounded right up my street. We all had interviews and its taken 2-3 months of meetings every Thursday to organise. We were given a rough theme of Maelstrom which can be interpreted in loads of different ways. We had to choose the films, the location, how we were going to dress the place. Everything we have done with the help of Storyhouse.”
The group have taken different definitions of the word “maelstrom” to inspire their film choices which include Hitchcock thrillers and cult classics from Terry Gilliam and Wes Anderson. “We are trying to make it as immersive as possible by having activities and dressing up and dressing the venue. You don’t need to dress up yourselves, and no one’s going to jump out at anyone!” said group member Evie Hauler-Davies.
The team were full of praise for Storyhouse who they say have created more engagement and opportunities for young people in Chester. Another of the film team Luke Bush who previously worked in the Storyhouse office is excited by the May launch of the theatre/cinema and library. In general the team are surprised by often expressed negative views about Chester and its cultural offering, which has developed massively over the last few years. Andrea Perez commented that :
“Chester is pretty safe ! In terms of activities theres a lot going on. I feel quite positive!”
Nicky Beaumont , the Storyhouse Film and Digital Programme manager said she was really impressed by the way the team had worked together to organise and promote the event. She hopes that the project will be repeated next year and held inside the Storyhouse. “We hope that some of this group will stay with us and form a youth forum so that young people have an input into the film programme.”
Immersive Cinema: Maelstrom has given these young people the opportunity to learn valuable new skills and learn from those working in the film industry as William Wyatt comments , “The first 4-5 sessions we had people from all around the surrounding North West , someone from Liverpool who did home cinema and someone from HOME in Manchester who gave us a talk. We had talks about marketing which made us more informed when we came to marketing and making the right decisions. “
Nick Bimson concluding said that ” It’s been a great opportunity to collaborate with a group of people of a similar age, curating a film festival that will be of interest to other young people in our local area. For someone interested in film the Young Film Programmers has been a great way to get involved with film in a practical way and has provided excellent opportunities for us to meet industry experts and attend industry events”.
Tickets for the films cost £3.50 or £5 for a double bill. For full programme details visit
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