I can’t believe it’s a year since the last Harrogate Film Festival!

And what a year for film it’s been. As an HR specialist working in media it’s been a bit of a busy one, what with the not-so-small matters of equal pay and harassment taking centre stage! It’s been a time for everyone to reflect, make changes, be accountable and find new ways of working. We’ve seen masses of people, male and female, drawn together for a common cause. And film is such a great way to explore causes, our society and cultural norms; to make people think and to encourage debate where there are multiple viewpoints. And when you need a break from the bad-news stories film can provide that much needed form of escapism. It can entertain, surprise and lift an audience.

I was very proud to sponsor the inaugural Harrogate Film Festival because of my love of film, and the creative geniuses that work in film. Having lived in London, where there is an abundance of creative events, I think the Film Festival is a great opportunity for Harrogate. As a contemporary, broad-reaching event it provides entertainment and education to local residents. At the same time, it gives us the opportunity to show visitors from far and wide what a beautiful town we live in!

The experiential screenings were particularly popular last year, both Night at the Museum at the Royal Pump Room Museum and Shaun of the Dead at Hales Bar were an absolute sell-out. The kids loved Night of the Museum so much last year it’s back again and so is the sequal.

Last year I really enjoyed watching the shortlisted entries for the different film categories at the Everyman Harrogate. I made a day of it with a couple of friends, fitting in drinks and lunch around the different screenings. There are so many independent bars and Harrogate to explore around Harrogate, I can thoroughly recommend it as a great day out.

As a sponsor of the Comedy Film Award I went along to the awards ceremony on the final night. I had the privilege of joining filmmaker Dave Gilbank at a table and saw him pick up 2 awards. His film Polterheist won the Audience Choice Award and seemed destined for great things so I caught up with him recently to ask him how things had progressed since the festival.

“Buoyed by the success of the short film Polterheist at Film Festivals around the world, including the accolades we received at the wonderful Harrogate Film Festival, we set about raising £100 000 to make a feature film version, and I’m happy to say, we did it!

We approached individual investors with a killer screenplay that certainly did the trick. We auditioned some brilliant actors and assembled a very talented cast to go with the excellent crew. We started filming in May 2017 and finished filming January 2018.

The feature explores the world briefly glimpsed in the short and expands it to reveal more humour, action and vivid, memorable characters.

Sally Bendtson, Limelight HR
Sally Bendtson, Limelight HR

The film is almost ready to go, and we intend to go to Cannes this year to try and sell it, or at the very least, garner some interest for it. Unfortunately we are restricted by the number of festivals we can enter in 2018 (you can only enter two) I fully intend to screen the feature at Harrogate FF in 2019 (if asked of course!). I vividly remember the excellent spirit and attitude at the Harrogate festival and fully support it and wish all the participants all the best and hope they embrace the independent vibe it promotes. It’s a great festival that I believe is destined to be one of the UK’s finest.”

I don’t think you can get a better recommendation for the Harrogate Film Festival than that. And how fantastic to know Polterheist was an entry at the very first festival and has gone on to achieve so much already.

I’ll be sponsoring the Comedy Award again this year. it was packed out last year so get your tickets before they sell out and I’ll see you there!