Despite currently having no cinema, St Albans has a rich film-making heritage. One of the pioneers of moving pictures Arthur Melbourne-Cooper was born in the city in 1874, while Stanley Kubrick lived and worked in Childwickbury Manor just outside St Albans. It is also close to historic film studios Leavesden, Pinewood and Elstree.
The inaugural St Albans Film Festival in March will be opened by the feature film Vinyl, a week ahead of its UK release, directed by Sara Sugarman, and starring Phil Daniels and Keith Allen. Closing the festival will be Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures, directed by Jan Harlan, Kubrick's brother-in-law and one of Kubrick's producers, who will also be giving a talk about filmmaking at the festival.
Film Festival Director Leoni Kibbey said: "It is fitting that our opening feature film is directed by a woman as it will be screened on March 8, International Woman's Day.”
The short film competition has attracted over 300 entries, made by filmmakers from 30 countries, and a shortlist will be screened over the weekend at venues across the cinema-less City.
The festival programme will feature events, talks and workshops, including stop-frame animation workshops. Four Weddings and a Funeral and Harry Potter and the Goblet of fire director Mike Newell, who was also born and brought up in St Albans, is hosting a screening in the nave of St Albans Cathedral of his new film Great Expectations on February 28 at which he will give details of the rest of the Festival's programme of events.
St Albans has been used as a backdrop to many films. St Albans Cathedral was a film location in Sean Connery's 1995 film First Knight, and in Johnny English starring Rowan Atkinson. The 2001 film Birthday Girl starring Nicole Kidman was also partly filmed in St Albans. More recently, several scenes from the film Incendiary, starring Michelle Williams, Ewan McGregor, and Matthew Macfadyen, were filmed in St Albans. Tom Cruise has recently filmed his new movie with Emily Blunt, All You Need is Kill, in the area.
St Albans Film Festival runs March 8-10. www.stalbansfilmfestival.com