The secret's out – students put on Sshhh! Film Festival at Phoenix


Movies exploring secrecy and suspense will hit the big screen this weekend as part of the Sshhh! Film Festival at Phoenix, Leicester’s independent cinema and art centre.

Now in its seventh year, the week-long festival (14-22 March) is curated and delivered by second-year Film Studies students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) who choose the Film Festivals module.

Sshhh! Film Fest (3)

This year’s line-up of films delves into the way in which we keep secrets or they are kept from us, including screenings of Francis Ford Coppola’s classic; ‘The Conversation’ and David Lynch’s hypnotic mystery picture, ‘Mullholland Drive’.

“This year’s theme is all about secrets and surveillance in society,” said Laraine Porter, senior lecturer in Film, Cinema and TV History at DMU. “The students’ choice of films interprets the theme in lots of different ways.”

Alongside the programme of movies, students have also organised a series of events for festival-goers to indulge in – including a virtual reality experience, an arts and crafts day for kids and a quiz night.

Laraine said: “The students have worked with the Phoenix to construct a virtual reality world using the cinema’s VR headsets, giving cult director fans a chance to experience David Lynch’s Mullholland Drive.”

Sshhh! Film Fest (1)

Liberty Woodward, one of the students involved with organising the festival, said she was inspired to take the Film Festivals module after going on a DMU Global trip to Cannes in her first year.

“Going to Cannes Film Festival definitely sparked my interest. I like the fact that this module is practical without having to be behind a camera – it’s something different,” she said.

“It’s been amazing to work so closely with the Phoenix, they have really allowed us to use our creativity and we have learnt so much about every aspect of putting on a film festival.”

DMU is the only university in the UK that offers a dedicated Film Festival module, providing students with the hands-on experience of delivering a week-long event for the public.

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Student Paloma Sanisidro added: “We’ve worked in teams across the project, each taking on a different aspect of the festival – from marketing and social media, to organising guest speakers and sourcing competition prizes.

“It’s been great to work with other students who are just as interested in film as I am.”

Laraine said: “The film festival industry is burgeoning – there is at least one film festival going on every single day around the world – so there are a lot of employment opportunities out there. That’s why we decided to incorporate this module into the course.

“We have a very good, close working relationship with the Phoenix, it’s a match made in heaven – our students get fantastic experience and in turn, they bring a new, creative energy to the cinema, as well as a younger demographic.”

Education Assistant at Phoenix, Cassie Brummitt, said the Sshhh! Film Festival was a great way to bring in a new demographic to the cinema. “Having the students put this event together means we draw in a younger audience and for the Phoenix, that is really important because we always want to get young people through our doors.

“This year’s event gives us the opportunity to bring older, classic films back to the big screen and thanks to the events the students have organised, audiences can enjoy a unique experience that they simply wouldn’t get from watching these movies at home.”

Laraine added: “Working with the Phoenix gives the students a foothold and the networking opportunities are brilliant too – they get to meet people working in the industry and other festival organisers too. We are very grateful for their support and our partnership.”

Check out the full programme for the Sshhh! Film Festival, which runs from Saturday 14 to Sunday 22 March:

Sat 14 Mar: The Conversation @ 6pm. This Coppola classic is introduced by DMU film lecturer Ian Hunter – and audiences get a fact file to take home.

Mon 16 Mar: Mulholland Drive @ 8.15pm. Lynch’s ultimate mystery. Prior to the event there will be a themed exhibition and Hollywood cocktails.

Wed 18 Mar: Film Quiz @ 8.30pm. Prizes are up for grabs, with a special secrets-themed quiz. £1 entry each, max six players per team.

Fri 20 Mar: Mystery Film @ 8.15pm. The ultimate enigma. What’s planned for Friday night? Only one way to find out…

Sat 21 Mar: Atlantis: The Lost Empire @ 11am. One for the kids. There’ll be crafts, face-painting and activities from 10am and after the film!

Sat 21 Mar: Double bill: Clue & Knives Out @ 6.30pm / 8.30pm. Two hilarious whodunnit parodies – and a chance to sample a tasty murder mystery cocktail!

Sun 22 Mar: The Death of Stalin @ 12pm. Part of the Phoenix’s Lazy Sunday offer (breakfast & film for £13.95 / £12.40 conc.) – bookings required for breakfast. 

Posted on Thursday 12th March 2020

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