A New London Film Festival Aims to Connect Artists + Viewers in a Truly Unique Way

Photo Source: Courtesy Four Seasons Film Festival

Coming next month to London’s historic Cadogan Hall is the first-ever iteration of the Four Seasons Film Festival. Yes, you read that correctly: a film festival that showcases new works that exemplify the overarching themes of each season. The man behind the idea? Cameron Hall, festival director and founder. A film-lover himself, Hall was inspired to start Four Seasons after attending film festivals like Sundance, and witnessing how film and other art forms can work to connect people in a vital way.

Hall chatted with Backstage about the upcoming festival, what the difference between a “spring film” and a “winter film” is, and the hallmark of a British film audience.

Tell us a little about the Four Seasons Film Festival.
Four Seasons Film Festival is a first-year festival taking place at the historic Cadogan Hall in London, Feb. 3–4, 2018. The festival will showcase nine ground-breaking feature films and over 60 inspiring short films that emulate the moods of the seasons, with films categorised into spring, summer, autumn, and winter sections. The festival also includes live music performances, and art and photography exhibitions. On Monday, Feb. 5, we have a special awards presentation for filmmakers and VIP ticket holders, with eight festival awards up for grabs.

Why was Four Seasons Film Festival started/founded?
I’m a huge film fan and several years ago began running film screenings in London for a ski film production company based in North America. From the first screening in 2014, my business, Holmlands, has gone on to run a national film tour throughout the UK and host several international screening events. Expanding into other genres was a natural progression, where I was heavily influenced by a visit to Sundance Film Festival in Utah in 2016. I feel by applying a narrative to our festival through presenting films that reflect the four seasons, we offer something different to other festival experiences. Our intention is to provide a platform for independent filmmakers to gain greater recognition for their work.

Why do you feel it’s important to promote the types of films you showcase during the festival?
I feel it’s important to provide all filmmakers with greater opportunities for people to see their content, but especially independent filmmakers. We live in a digital world where anyone can upload content to the internet but being able to cut through the noise and create an audience can still be difficult. With on-demand services continuing to favour big-budget productions, it’s more important than ever for independent creatives to have more opportunities for their work to be seen.

We have eight awards available and by categorising films into seasons, it creates greater opportunity within the festival for filmmakers to receive an award. Equally, the festival provides an opportunity to combine film with live music, art, and photography, connecting independent performers and artists with the film-loving community. We hope the combination of art forms helps everyone showcase their creative talents whilst providing the audience with a special, culturally enriching, festival going experience.

What’s one thing you wish people knew/that most people don’t know about film festivals?
That’s an interesting question and one that’s difficult to answer, as everyone who attends a festival will take away their own experiences in different ways. Some people will love certain films and others won’t. I think that’s the beauty of festivals and the film-going experience in general. As festival organiser, we have a blank canvas we fill through programming and like the films themselves, the result is all subjective. If I remove my festival organiser hat and take my experiences as a film festival attendee, the things I enjoy the most are having the opportunity to ask filmmakers questions in post-screening Q&A’s, and having the opportunity to mix with directors and actors who are quite often there to simply enjoy watching other people’s movies.

The festival experience allows you to get under the skin of film much more than a regular visit to the cinema or sitting at home watching movies on Netflix. As an attendee, you become part of the festival itself. There are films I’ve watched at festivals I haven’t enjoyed so much, but then having the opportunity to hear a post-screening Q&A and learn more about the production processes directly from a director makes you think very differently about the film, gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation. Attending festivals creates a deeper connection with the audience and film as a medium, which is quite special.

Any hallmarks of British film?
Personally, I believe the hallmark of any film should be good storytelling regardless of nationality. Of course, it’s great to see the British film succeed—we have a great pedigree and rich history in the industry as a nation and long may that continue. Four Seasons Film Festival will be showcasing some home-grown talent, but we’re very international, having received submissions from 40 different countries during our submission process. We have filmmakers flying in from around the world and feel that’s important, as creativity and good storytelling has no nationality.

What should an international creator know about the world of British film?
I can only speak from an event organiser perspective and from that side of things: the UK has a huge film-loving audience. Whether you have animation, documentary, LGBT, foreign language, feature or short film, the British audience will always be receptive to great content and especially so in London. Four Seasons Film Festival is proud to be premiering several international features and short films in February.

What advice would you give someone who is just starting out in the industry?
My advice to anyone in life is always to believe in what you do. If you have the belief to create something and the desire to see it through, others will buy into your ideas. It may sound corny, but one of my favourite movie quotes is from “Field of Dreams”: “If you build it they will come”. Whether you are a filmmaker, festival organiser or have an idea about anything in life, I believe this to be true. If you can see something in your mind’s eye, you can create it. There will always be barriers to entry, but if you believe in something enough, you’ll find a way to make it happen. Never give up on your dreams and never settle for second best.

What do you look for in festival submissions?
It always comes back to good storytelling. Whether fact or fiction, a viewer needs to feel connected with the film and if a story is told well, that’s ultimately what connects the audience with what’s happening on screen.

Four Seasons Film Festival aims to showcase the full spectrum of human emotions through good storytelling. Spring is a time of hope and new beginnings; summer is a joyous and vibrant season, celebratory of life; autumn is a transitional time, and winter can be cold and harsh.

In reviewing submissions, we looked at each film and thought how its narrative, tones, and mood would apply to each of the seasons. Some are very literal, some are more subtle, but all the films we are screening have been selected based on the merit of good storytelling first and foremost. We have been overwhelmed with submissions and are delighted with the line-up for our inaugural festival. We can’t wait to open our doors and welcome people to join us in London for a very special cultural weekend and celebration of film.

Four Seasons Film Festival is taking place on Saturday, Feb. 3–4, 2018 at Cadogan Hall in Sloane Square, London. For more details and to book tickets, visit www.fourseasonsfilmfestival.com.

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